Today was Mary from Maine's birthday! We celebrated with a fairly uninspiring breakfast at the Econolodge. By the time we got down there at 8 AM the biscuits for the biscuit and gravy were gone. At least Mary got her tea! We headed back up to look like we were packing afterwards, as the parents actually did. They headed out around 9 to catch their greyhound. Our checkout wasn't until noon so we did some cleaning, some resting, some showering and we were heading out to finally resupply.
We had a lot of blog catching up still to do and Emily took charge. We set up office in the McDonald's down the street and Tyler headed out to grab medical supplies from Walgreens and groceries from Ingles. He unwrapped all the groceries in the same McDonald's, as he tried to at least be as discrete as possible while Emily finished up the blog. Afterwards, we stuffed our faces at Subway.
Last up, we had to actually figure out how to get back to the trail. Dickey Gap wasn't the most convenient spot to get to Marion from so we weren't super sure what we were going to do. We called the shuttle, but discovered they only operate during thde week. The local taxi service said they would charge 59 dollars, so we decided we would practice our hitch hiking again. We currently weren't near the way out of the city so we walked over to the route 16 south that led out of marion, made a sign out of a breakfast essentials box that probably no one could read. And put out our thumbs. Then it started to rain. As soon as Mary and Bruce left, it was supposed to rain the following five days, but it had looked like a beautiful day until that very second. Luckily, it was a fairly soft rain, and maybe it would make us look more pathetic. Whether that worked or not, we don't know, but one very excited guy pointed down the road a bit and gave us a very enthusiastic thumbs up. Robert and Rebecca (Becky) said they would take us as far as Sugar Grove (more than half way) where they were headed to dinner at Roberts Moms house. Robert also gave us a tour of the AT visitor center, near the Partnership shelter. He was full of energy and asked us all about the hike and where we were from. It sounds like he's lived in quite a few places as well. They dropped us off at a gas station 8 miles or so from our destination and told us to be wary as we were close to the meth capital of Virginia. Uh oh! Spoiler, no problems with meth upcoming. We hung out at the gas station for fifteen minutes or so to let the heavy rain pass. A local guy told us about the abysmal weather forecast and told us about using nail polish, peppermint oil, or lemon oil to get ticks out. He said he also had used credit cards. After he left (sadly heading north) we headed back to the road. We had heard that ones best chance of hitching usually involved looking cute or pathetic and asking people politely around the parking lot.
We had a lot more trouble getting a ride this time, and it wasn't for lack of cars. We even got some faces from drivers like we disgusted them. But we were freshly showered! After about forty minutes, and the rain stopping, a red truck pulled up. We had seen the truck at the gas station, and the little boy in the passenger seat had gone in to get ice cream. The little boy was the one to ask us if we wanted a ride. We said we would love one! He asked us where we were going and we said Dickey Gap and away we went, riding in the back. After a short while, the actual driver pulled over and shut off the car, which made us a little worried. He just said he was just going down 16 and he has no idea where Dickey Gap was. Tyler said it was just before Troutdale (the final destination of the driver). The driver looked a little confused, presumably because, as we later found out, no one calls it Dickey gap but rather call it Hurricane Campground. Anyway, all was good and we made it the rest of the way no problem. A brief digression before finishing the day. The driver of the truck, who's name we sadly never got, had some veteran stickers on the back of his truck. Maybe he wasn't a veteran himself, but veterans have been incredibly helpful throughout this journey. Not to mention, many of the best people we've met on the trail have been veterans. As a way to say thanks we plan to we do something when we are back in society to give back. Ok, so, we made it back to Dickey Gap, the rain had essentially stopped, but by this point it was already 5:30 so getting 10 miles in was probably a bit silly. Instead, we just headed 4 miles to Trimbi Shelter, a beautiful little stone shelter with a fireplace. The shelter was pretty full so we set up the tent in one of the many spots below and ate some leftover cheesy gordita crunches for dinner. True debauchery! We were feeling good about the upcoming days and getting some big miles done (and hoping Bambi's slack packing would work out well so she could catch up to us ).