Day 70 -May 16 2017 – 18.8 miles – John Springs Shelter to Daleville VA
The Tramily woke up early and we were on the trail by 4:45 AM. We were on a mission to see the sunrise from McAfees Knob. It was still dark out so we had to hike by the light of our headlamps.
I enjoyed night hiking. Besides checking off night hiking on the Thru Hiker must do list, it was nice to be on the trail before the world was awake. The mostly nocturnal Whippoorwills were still out and we could hear them calling to each other.
We passed the Catawba Shelter. The area was so crowded that some people had even pitched their tent right on the trail. We felt lucky that we camped at the John Springs shelter. Besides the Tramily there was only one other person there.
After 2.7 miles and an 1100 foot climb we reached the top of the mountain. We could hear voices off a short side trail and assumed that the view was that way.
After one hundred feet or so we came to the McAfee Knob area. McAfee Knob is the most photographed area on the AT. It’s only a few miles from a road so its easily accessible to anyone. Scarecrow was already there and had his camera set up to take a time lapse of the sunrise. By this time Scarecrow was part of our group. He did his own thing but when he was around he was Tramily. I guess he was the cool uncle of the group. He wasn’t always hiking with us, but when was, he was he was Tramily.
There were more than a few day hikers as well.
It was a beautiful sunrise and we took a lot of pictures.
As the sun was rising everyone was quiet. After the sun had been up a minute or two everyone began talking again. The special moment had passed and the day had begun.
Here’s one thing that no one talks about when they talk about McAfee Knob. When standing on the cliff edge, if you look right, you can see right into Daleville. In fact you would be looking directly down the runway of the local airport. Somehow that doesn’t make it into the photos.
We hung out there a little while longer. As we were getting ready to leave a lady came up to Scarecrow, Stoat and I. She was very nice but boy-o-boy did she like to talk. The three of us were delayed by at least fifteen minutes while Flashfire and Zeus were already underway.
From McAfee Knob the trail went down about 1000 feet and ran along the spine of a lower ridge for six miles. After that we climbed back up 1000 feet to Tinker Cliffs.
Tinker Cliffs was a beautiful area. I think I liked it even better than McAfee Knob. There was hardly anyone there and the views were great. The trail followed the cliff for half a mile with plenty of locations to relax and enjoy the view. It would have been a great place to watch a sunrise or sunset.
We hung out at the cliffs for a while. After a little bit we wondered where Flashfire was. We had just seen her before the climb up Tinker cliffs but now she was nowhere to be seen. We didn’t worry too much though. We had made plans to meet up for lunch at the upcoming shelter. If she wasn’t there when we got to the shelter then we would begin to worry.
When we got to the shelter Flashfire was lounging there. We asked her where she had been and she sheepishly replied that she got lost. Before starting the climb up to Tinker cliffs she put her earbuds in and went into her hiking machine mode. She put her head down and started hiking fast. Unfortunately she missed a turn and wound up on a different trail. She got turned around a few times and then came across the shelter. She had missed Tinker Cliffs completely.
After lunch we began to hike the remaining 9.4 miles to Daleville. The weather had begun to get hot and the terrain had begun to look more arid looking. The soil was very sandy and the trees were a lot smaller.
The sand was getting in my shoes though the large holes in my shoes and my feet were killing me. Stoat was dealing with problems of his own. His leg was still bothering him from when he bumped it on a log a few days ago.
By the time we got to the final descent into Daleville we were ready to be done for the day. We were hot and tired. We could hear the traffic from the main road in Daleville but if felt like it took forever to get there.
Once we reached the road we made a right hand turn and walked a few hundred feet to Howard Johnsons. We got a room and made our way quickly to it. When we got to the room we heard a familiar voice. It was Wolfie! We hadn’t seen him since we were entering the Grayson Highlands. We caught up with him and made plans to get dinner at a local BBQ place.
After taking showers and changing into our “clean” clothes the five of us made our way over to the BBQ place. The food was great but I had to bail out early to go to the outfitter before they closed.
The name of the outfitter was Outdoor Trails and the guy running the place was outstanding. He had me try on at least a dozen pairs of shoes, some multiple times, before I decided on a pair. I also bought a new belt. The one I had was incorporated into my pants and the clasp no longer worked.
When we got back to the hotel we hung out outside for a while. The place was crawling with thru hikers. Some we had seen before and some we hadn’t. Some of the hikers we knew included: The entire Tramily including Scarecrow, Wolfie, Avalanche, Stargazer,Candles, and Hobo Joe and Kim.