Bearly enough water

Friday, June 10
Dalesville, VA (727.5, 52.5)

Realized last night I had been interpreting the information about bear activity incorrectly. There's a temporary campsite 5 miles from the next big shelter, where bears have been active, but I thought it was before the shelter not after. It is in fact after and so I am setting my sights on that campsite about 14 miles away. This would allow on Saturday morning a relatively quick 4 mile hike in the Dalesville Virginia for resupply and a night or two in a hiker hotel.

At 4:40 AM, some British hikers that I had met the previous evening appeared to be packing up to leave. That made me curious, why so early? Then I realized since we are close to McAfee Knob, one of the most famous locations on the Trail, they were probably heading up to catch the sunrise. Realizing I didn't want to miss that I quickly packed up and was on the trail at 5:20 AM.

It's 1.7 miles to the top, with mild elevations, I make it in less than an hour. At that point the sun was already well up, and as is the tradition, hikers were getting pictures taken on the Knob. I asked a couple young ladies if they would also take my picture and they readily assented. They got an amazing shot.

This is a recreational area, heavily trafficked by day hikers, so the trails are really well-maintained. The descent was comfortable, the path was clear and continued that way for several miles, a nice change of pace. I was making good time and drinking a lot of water in response to my activity as well as increasing warmth.

I've gone back to using Paul Bunion and the twenty-somethings that I've been hiking near now recognize me. We were stopping in similar places on the way north including at Lambert's Meadow Shelter, which is the shelter that was having bear problems. I should have picked up more water here, but was hearing from other hikers that the bear was still hovering nearby, so decided not to. Would regret this later.

As I got up to the area where the temporary campground was, I realized that I was down below 1 L of water. If I stayed there overnight then I would need to make that amount of water last for hydration, cooking, as well as getting down the mountain the following day. I decided it was less risky to continue, hike the four miles to Daleville, and get a room for the night. Called the Holiday Inn Express and made a reservation.

The day at this point had gotten quite hot and the trailhead changed from a path to a more traditional rocky mess. Every time I got to a turn where I thought perhaps the trail would start to descend into Daleville, it would head up.  About .7 miles out of Daleville, inexplicably, I ran into a fairly wide stream, but decided to keep moving.

The Holiday Inn Express turns out to be very close to where the Trail comes out, but I stop at a gas station first to get some Gatorade. It takes me about 15 minutes to gather the strength to wander over to the Holiday Inn and begin my night. They have a $50 hikers special, and there are probably 15 hikers here including the two young ladies took my picture earlier today.


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