June 17th 2018
Four pines hostel / VA route 624 – Lamberts Meadow Shelter (mile 719.8)
16.3 miles + 0.5 from the hostel
Total miles: 736.7


Well. I didn’t go to sleep until about 11:30pm. And then the cockerel, coupled with Pi and Salty having a very loud conversation, meant I was awake at 5:45am. That is definitely not enough sleep. Everything was also covered in a heavy dew. Not really that surprising considering we were camped on grass and it was a really clear night. 

I didn’t have the fly on my tent so my sleeping bag was covered in a wet layer and the side of my tent were all wet with condensation. The cockerel was not giving up so going back to sleep was not an option. I slowly packed up and got all my stuff together. I was kind of reluctant to leave and had I not been under time pressure I would have probably zeroed today. It was Sunday and Father’s Day so although I was looking forward to McAfee Knob, I knew it was going to be crowded. 

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I ended up setting off around 8am with Salty and Pi right behind me. I was glad when they overtook because it meant they could clear the cobwebs instead of me! There was a bit of a climb and I swear it got hotter with each step. It was one of the hottest days already. After a few ups and downs I walked through some meadows and pastures and they were roasting. All those meadow flowers, although pretty, seem to really capture the heat. I was very glad to get back in the trees where it was a few degrees cooler. 

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After a few miles I crossed a road where the main parking area for McAfee Knob is. There were so many cars there! The trail went uphill pretty much all the way but it was very nicely maintained with steps and wooden supports. It was also very wide which was a good thing because day hikers don’t like to give way! So we were able to pass without too much interaction. There were so many people I definitely didn’t want to stop and chat to all of them. 

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I was trying to maintain a decent pace as I knew the others would be up there waiting for me, because we made a pact. Sure enough when I got there Salty and Pi were there and so was Short Shorts. He never passed me so I assumed he had taken the road, and it turned out they all had! 

Anyway. We spent a while up there messing about and taking pictures. There were so many other people up there, mostly day trippers, but everyone was really respectful and the photo area was always left clear when people weren’t taking their photos so everyone had the chance to get their shot. I had arrived at 12:30pm, and with only 7 miles left to our chosen campsite we could afford to lounge around a bit. It felt so nice to be able to just stop and relax on the trail for a bit. That’s something I’m really missing. I feel like I have to keep moving all the time if I am going to make it to Maine on time. 

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So we stayed up there until 2pm. Short Shorts moved on as he wanted to get to town today, that was 16 more miles and I definitely didn’t want to hike that far. Just after he went some day trippers gave us a whole bag of snacks and I got my fill of Welches fruit snacks and rice crispy bars. 

Eventually the need for water was too great and I needed to move on to get the the water which was a half mile down the trail. It was downhill which was nice, and the water was off trail a bit but it was a welcome relief. I guzzled three quarters of a litre next to the stream and then filled my bottle and carried on down the trail. It was a little bit down and a little bit up and a little bit of a rock scramble. I took my time as there wasn’t far to go, so I slowed my pace and I really felt like I was out for a stroll rather than a hike. From the Knob you can see the ridge lines you follow as you go down, then when you get to Tinker Cliffs you can look back over to McAfee Knob and see the ridge you’ve just come along. There were some nice views over the valley and you can see the layers of ridges in the distance. 

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I hung around Tinker Cliffs for a while then I pressed on the last little bit to the campsite. As I got there I couldn’t see anyone and for a moment I thought they had carried on. Well, if they had I was just going to camp there anyway. But a shout of Puff Puff came through the forest and they were closer to the shelter than I thought they were going to be. 

Salty was already in full fire building mode, partly to try and get rid of the bugs. There were so many bugs about today, nearly everyone has commented on them. They are in your eyes and ears and I had a load of fresh bites from today which are itching up a storm. 

I got my tent up and lay my sleeping bag out in the hope it will dry out a bit and then I sat with my bug head net on to just try to get a moments peace. It was too hot for a fire really and I felt like I was melting! But Pi had packed out marshmallows because this is her last night on trail and we wanted to toast marshmallows on a fire. 

I made my ramen and I had to really force it down. I’m going to have to try and find something different to eat. I’m thinking about some couscous. A guy called Bad Weather came to join us around the fire and we toast marshmallows and I eat way too many. A couple of mine also end up in the fire after some much too aggressive shaking when it set alight. 

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I was really pleased to have a bit of downtime tonight. I had arrived at camp at 5:30pm and today just felt like a bit of a treat to have an easier day. I was contemplating whether I had the need to pass wind of the need to poo and I couldn’t decide what it was going to be so I trekked up to the privy and I definitely made the right decision. Then I spent the rest of the evening farting. Big on volume not on smell. 

Someone had seen a bear cub near the privy earlier so we all stored our food in the bear locker at the shelter I got in my tent just after 9 which is really early compared to most nights, and it’s now 9:30pm as I’m about to finish up writing. That’s definitely the earliest I’ve been able to get to close my eyes for a while. 

Tomorrow we plan to get up early so we can make it into town, where Short Shorts is, use the shower at his motel and then go for a farewell meal at Taco Bell (somewhere I’ve never been). They’ve described this Mountain Dew style drink they have there and I’m pretty excited about it. For the past couple of nights I’ve had an unquenchable thirst. 


Watch the video!

For this trip I made a daily video diary which you can watch here: DAY 40

 

 


 

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