I left the next day carrying my full pack and weighed down with several days of food. Like normal, I felt good leaving town, well rested and strong. The trail wound it's way through forests and hills and by midday I stopped at a place called Buzzard's Rock. It was an out cropping of jagged rocks on top of a tall mountain. So, I did what any other man would do, I climbed to the tallest ledge and peed off of it. Minutes later "Boot Strap" strode up as I was eating my lunch and we sat there for a long time giggling about nonsense. After what seemed like an absurd amount of time we left Buzzard Rock, which incidentally we were told is named that because buzzards frequent it. We were headed into the Virginia highlands which has horse trails crisscrossing the AT, but they are not allowed to ride directly on the trail. By dusk we reached Thomas Knob shelter and a large group of hikers prepared to turn in for the night, but not before some unexpected visitors payed us an awesome visit.
The next morning I left the shelter and headed into Grayson Highlands State Park. This was an amazing place, landscape ripped directly out of a J.R.R. Tolkien novel. I expected to see the Horselords of Rohan riding through the grassy plains or Ring Wraiths perched on the rocky spires dotting the ridges. My imagination ran wild as I made my way through the windswept fields. I was bought back to my senses though when I ran into even more wild ponies. One I even named Fabio.
After it let up I departed and pushed on another couple miles to Hurricane Mountain shelter. There I spent the night as the fog rolled in and the skies opened up. When morning came it was cold and still raining so I laid in my cozy sleeping bag until I caught grief from everyone else leaving the shelter. The lore on the trail spoke of a shelter twenty miles down the trail that offered the ability to order pizza directly to it. With that as motivation I set off. All during the day the temperature steadily dropped, but i trudged along thinking that I would have warm cheesy deliciousness before nightfall.
When I finally dragged myself the twenty miles to the shelter the weather was only getting worse. I met up with "Boot Strap" and two other hiker and we decided to head into town and spend the night in a hotel instead of the freezing to death. We stood on the side of a road with our thumbs out for only about ten minutes when a nice older couple stopped. At first they were reluctant to let four of us squeeze into the back seat, but we convinced them that we did not mind at all and preferred it to standing in the cold. They dropped us off at the Royal Inn where we purchased a room for the night. We then ordered the pizza we had all been using as motivation, turned on the TV and watched nature programs until one by one sleep and full bellies claimed us.
The next morning we all got breakfast and then the others resupplied there food bags from the local grocery store. I tagged along, but had enough food to last me another two days where I would be meeting my father again for resupply. When I finally hit the trail again this is what greeted me.
My destination was only seven miles in, where the group I had been hiking with planned on staying at a shelter and reuniting with another four hikers. There we cooked up couscous and vegetable curry and drank spiced rum until dark.
The next morning I walked five miles to the truck stop my father was patiently waiting for me at. I am really glad that I experienced some snow out here, but I think that I forgot how cold it needs to get in order to have that experience.