Sunday, July 8, 2012

Stage 6 - Friday, July 6 (39 miles)

Eric's birthday bouquet with next day's lunch

I've often heard Eric express his gratitude for the chance to spend the day on the mountain, moving through space under his own power, up and over mountains, across streams, around obstacles, in any manner of weather.  He's certainly fulfilling that freedom on this Tour.  Today (Friday, July 6) he celebrates his 44th birthday.  What a way to celebrate.  After today's trek, cumulative mileage for the Tour is 247.

Stage 6 route began at the AT crossing at VA 601 and ended at VA 311 in Catawba for a total of 39 miles

I arrived at the McAfee Knob parking lot at VA 311 at 6:30 pm with our two year old daughter, Loren Rose.  Eric had gotten a ride back to Four Pines Hostel with the owner, Joe Mitchell.  Troy had just finished for the day and opted to catch a ride back to the hostel with me, while Adam waited for Anne and Rob to arrive.  Back at the hostel, Eric was freshening up with a shower before his birthday dinner of hot dogs with chili and boiled salted potatoes.  James tells me the potatoes are an old tradition of salt miners.  They were quite tasty.   With today's extreme temperatures, the salty meal was a perfect fit for the runners.  

Anne at the supply trailer - time to prep for the next day
Ouch!  Rob's legs took a beating today.
Once Anne and Rob returned to the hostel, we were grateful another stage of the Tour was officially completed. I sensed a foreboding in the air though as Rob seemed pretty distant, not just your typical end-of-the-day fatigued kind of distant.  He had had a pretty rough day, made even worse by the realization that he had another six or so miles to go after he saw a sign to the hostel where we were staying.  Apparently, the hostel is pretty close to the AT, but today's stage ended at the top of another long climb several miles beyond the hostel.  Eric had contacted James during the day to tell him to go out to that section of the AT and put up a sign telling our runners to keep going.  Nothing like having your hopes dashed that you might be nearing the end of a long, hot day, only to realize you have many more miles to go.  I also heard some grumblings about Dragon's Tooth which was scaled towards the end of this day's stage.

Time for the evening check-in
What Rob really needed at this point was some food and time off his feet.  As Rob began his meal, our new thru-hiker friend whose name I didn't catch (I'm sure James and Adam know it) was still working on his dinner.  He had already finished off a gallon of whole milk and four or five venison burgers which he ate on his homemade plate fashioned from a cardboard box.  Several other thru-hikers arrived that evening and I began to wonder if any of our guys would get any sleep if they chose to stay in the garage.  I imagined the thru-hikers weren't as concerned about going to sleep at a reasonable hour as I doubted they had plans to start hiking by 6 am the next morning.  I asked Rob if he needed help setting up his tent, but he indicated he planned on sleeping in the garage.  I learned the next morning that Rob had bailed on the garage arrangements some time during the night to seek other sleeping arrangements.  A sound night's sleep wasn't in the cards, but then again, I wonder if anyone has gotten a decent night's sleep during this Tour.  A few snapshots from our time at Four Pines:

Don't touch my Nutella!  Nighttime preparations for tomorrow's lunch.
Eric's regular lunch on the Tour includes
two almond butter and Nutella sandwiches and an apple.

Ahhh  , the stick!

Anne's blistered feet.  Man she's tough!

Pack is prepped for the next day.  Thanks, Rebekah, for making
laminated mileage charts for everyone for every stage of the Tour!
Adam reading the hikers' guest book at Four Pines Hostel


  1. I didn't expect that there will be injuries but it is obvious because they ran for all those palces and it is a huge distance.

  2. I didn't expect that there will be injuries but it is obvious because they ran for all those palces and it is a huge distance.