We left the Greenbrier Hotel at o’dark thirty for the 1 hour and 45 minute ride back to the trailhead. I’m not sure of the exact time, but it was early. My sister was wanting to get back to the motel in time for a 9:00 am seminar, but I’m pretty sure that she didn’t make it back in time. We arrived at the trailhead at the same time another hiker arrived. While I was unloading my gear, the hiker came over and asked if he could possibly get a ride to Marion or Atkins. My sister offered him a ride to Bland, which he accepted. So we said our goodbyes, and my sister took of to become an official Trail Angel, as if the trail magic that she had provided to me didn’t already give her complete credentials. I found out later that the hiker was from Madrid, Spain, and that he planned to walk back to his car.
From the trailhead, the A.T. follows VA 606 to cross over I-77. After crossing the interstate, the trail direction is a little confusing. You would expect the trail to go uphill (since the A.T. always goes uphill), but instead it follows the road downhill to the parking area at Kimberling Creek. Someone had placed rock cairns along the route, but if you aren’t careful it would be easy to go the wrong way.
Soon you are back in the woods and walking along an easy trail. My goal today was to walk 18.4 miles to Trent’s Grocery, and the trail really cooperated. It was a good thing, too. Since I picked up my Pearisburg resupply in Bland, I was carrying a week’s worth of food that I wouldn’t need for three days. Luckily, I also switched out my winter gear for my summer gear, and the three pound weight savings help to offset the food load a little.
The trail today was a hikers dream. For the most part, the trail was smooth and rock free, with very little elevation gain or loss. The weather was perfect, as I passed through forests and meadows, and the wildflowers and azaleas were putting on a dazzling show. Along the way, I passed the 600 mile mark without any fanfare or sign. I guess that after the first 500 miles, those milestone markers become a little less significant. As the day progressed, the miles just rolled by and, before I knew it, I arrived at my destination.
Prior to reaching VA 606, you get to cross Kimberling Creek again. This time, however, you cross it using a very unique and substantial suspension bridge. After crossing this engineering marvel, it was a half mile road walk to Trent’s Grocery, but the wildflowers along the way kept the road walk from being mundane.
Trent’s Grocery is possibly the most unique little country convenience store that I have ever seen. Not only do the have all the normal items you would find at a convenience store, but they also stock everything from ammo and fishing tackle to seeds and laminated flooring. Furthermore, they also feature a grill with a variety of sandwiches, burgers, and pizzas. And to top it off, they also have a campground with laundry facilities, showers, and real toilets. What more could a hiker as for? After confirming when the grill closed, I paid for my campsite, grabbed a beer (Keystone. I’ve had to really lower my standards out here), and headed to the campgrounds to get set up.
At the campgrounds, I met Train Wreck, a thru-hiker from Mobile, AL. He is retired from the railroad and started on the trail two weeks after I did. We chatted for a bit until I set up my tent, stowed my gear, and returned to the store for some food. After paying homage to a double cheeseburger and fries, I bought some ice cream and returned to camp. There is a creek near where I am camping, and the sound of the rapids will make it easy to fall asleep after this long day.