Friday, July 24, 2015

Day 55: And into Daleville...

May 1: It rained heavily overnight and weather forecasts predicted it to continue throughout the day today but fortunately for everyone on the trail, the rain had largely stopped by morning. Some fat fog got everything damp and tree snot would fall from the trees whenever a gust of wind struck, but the rain had stopped. For now, at least!

I had a short 9.4-mile hike into the busy town of Daleville where I intended to take a zero day and maybe two of them depending on how much work I got gone. I checked into the Howard Johnson located conveniently mere steps from the trail. Just as I arrived, spits of rain started to hit me--I arrived not a moment too soon!

Knowing I had planned to stay at this hotel, I had my laptop shipped ahead directly to the hotel so I wouldn't have to suffer the nearly 1-mile walk to the post office with its limited hours. The laptop would already be waiting for me at my arrival-- at any time of day or night I happened to arrive on any day of the week. I was no longer at the mercy of the USPS office hours!!

The number of hikers I saw at the hotel were astounding. I saw several in the lobby when I arrived, and more roaming around outside. During the short walk to my room, I passed several other rooms that clearly hosted additional hikers as well--I could see their gear through the windows and their shoes resting just outside of the doors.

Just in the time it took me to check in, the rain started coming down in torrents. I would have normally pulled out my umbrella for such a heavy downpour, but it was a short jog through the rain to the building with my room and I was going to strip out of my clothes and take a shower anyhow. Between my trekking pole and the mail drops I carried awkwardly, the umbrella didn't seem so important.

First thing I did was use the toilet because hey! Running water! Then I striped off my nasty clothes, leaving them in a disgusting heap on the floor, turned on the shower and stepped in.

I didn't have clean clothes to put on afterwards, but I put on my camp clothes which were considerably better than the hiking clothes. Less dirt, less smell and I could perhaps pass myself off as somewhat presentable in public.

Then I got online and started catching up with emails and other messages which occupied me for the rest of the afternoon. For dinner, I looked out the window and saw that the rain had stopped--briefly, at least, and I dashed across the street to Pizza Hut. If it had been raining hard, I had been thinking about ordering food delivered. (I could imagine, "Yeah, do you deliver pizza across the street? You don't even need a car!" The restaurant was, quite literally, across the street from the hotel.)

By the time I finished dinner, however, the rain had started up again. Fortunately, I had planned on this contingency and brought my umbrella. The most difficult part of the return journey, however, was crossing Highway 220 during rush hour. I must have stood on the side of the road for five minutes before there was a break in traffic large enough that I felt safe to dash halfway across the street to the center divider, then a couple of more minutes before I could safely dash the rest of the way across the street.

The leftover pizza I put in the mini-fridge for later, and the rest of the night was spent on my laptop catching up on work.

Somewhere near sunset, someone knocked loudly on my door. Who could that be? I wasn't expecting anyone. Before opening the door, I looked through the peephole to see who had arrived. I was wearing my long underwear (it was cleaner than my other clothes which I hadn't gotten around to washing...yet) but not much else. And what did I see? A giant, wet Blueberry!

I opened the door. "Blueberry!" I thought he was still a day or so behind me, but he had done a huge mile day to make it into Daleville that evening. What a miserable day for walking. I asked if he had a place to crash yet, offering up the second bed in my room if he wanted it. He took it and we chatted for a bit, but he was starving for food and soon headed out again to resupply his food for the trail and get some McDonalds for dinner. I went back to work.

He knocked again a couple of hours later with a harrowing story of getting lost on his way to the McDonalds, or maybe it was coming back from there, and roads with no shoulders or sidewalks to walk on. It sounded pretty crazy to me. =)

I didn't get much work done after that. We chatted until we got tired and eventually went to sleep. I don't remember everything that we talked about, but one thing I do remember was doing an Internet search about how to build a raft. Blueberry wanted to "aqua blaze" the Shenandoahs. There was a route that one could raft a river around the Shenandoah Mountains rather than hike through them. It wasn't very common during my 2003 thru-hike, but it sounds like a lot more people take that option now-a-days. It kind of appealed to me as well. I've already thru-hiked the AT once. Anything to make it more interesting and different from my first hike was a welcome addition, but for Walking 4 Fun, I figured I really needed to stick to the official trail. I'd rather be aqua-blazing, but I wouldn't.

Anyhow, Blueberry did want to aqua blaze and he could aqua blaze, but he thought it would be fun to build his own raft for the journey. Which intrigued me to no end. That would be so cool! So I did some Internet searches on my computer to find plans about how to build a raft, how large it would need to be and so forth. I'd love to be a fly on the wall while he was building a raft, and I'd laugh if it actually sank (a very real possibility, I thought!), but it gave us a lot to discuss until then. =)

Then off to sleep we went, dreaming about building our own rafts. Although I didn't intend to aqua blaze the trail, the idea of building my own raft really appealed to me. Maybe when I was back in Seattle. I could take it to Alki and launch it into Puget Sound, rowing it to downtown or something. It might be fun! =)

The AT really likes to take people to the very edge of these cliffs! =)

And... civilization! Highway 220 to be exact.

The Howard Johnson was all of about a 1-minute walk from the last photo where I got off the trail. =)

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