I was so excited to be at home that I hopped out of bed at 5:00 a.m., fixed some coffee and toast and sat down at the breakfast table with my laptop – my old routine. Later in the day I would drive back down to Sinking Creek (where the Princess picked me up the day before) and pick up Whiskers and Rocket to bring them back to our house so that we could all slack pack together for the next three days. As I mentioned in a previous post, slack packing allows you to sleep in a bed, get good meals and hike with a very light pack carrying only water, snacks for the day, rain gear, and a small first aid kit.
I made a big shopping trip to the grocery store in the morning, got a great massage (what a luxury), then went downtown with the Princess to have lunch at Blue Sky Bakery and stop in a few shops. At Blue Sky I had a whole pimento cheese sandwich – normally I can only eat a half. It was great, they really pile on the pimento cheese and it is so tasty!
After lunch I did some planning to figure out the route to do the shuttle for the first day of slack packing. We wanted to hike just under 27 miles to get from Sinking Creek to the parking lot near Dragon’s Tooth. I had done the last part of this hike within the past year with our local hiking club, Rockbridge Area Hikers, so I had an idea of where we needed to leave my truck at the end of the hike.
About 2:30 I got a text from Whiskers saying they would arrive at Sinking Creek at about 4:15. It was raining hard so I got in the car and started driving, hoping to get to the trail head in time to meet them. It’s about an hour and a half driving time from Lexington to Sinking Creek. The mileage is not that great – Sinking Creek is north of Blacksburg and east of Roanoke on VA Route 42 – but it is isolated between two long mountain ranges so the only way to get there is on back country roads. It’s a beautiful drive through rural Virginia but it’s not a fast way to get from point A to point B.
Anyway, I got to Sinking Creek at 4:00 and there was a hiker walking down the road in the driving rain, so I stopped and picked her up to take her to the Huffman House B&B, about a half mile away, where her friend was going to pick her up. When we got to the Huffman House, Whiskers and Rocket were waiting on the porch. The had really picked up their pace from the time he texted me and arrived over a half hour earlier than planned. They had gotten soaked and cold and Rocket had already changed into dry clothes. We were happy to see each other and got their gear into the car and started the drive back home. We had a lot to talk about on the drive so it didn’t seem so long this time.
When we walked into our house the smell of the Princess’ cooking was delightful. She had prepared a delicious vegetarian dinner of sweet potato and black bean veggie burgers, Thai pasta salad, a cabbage salad, and a dessert of rhubarb pie and ice cream. Whiskers, Rocket and I ate a lot! Rocket really liked the burgers (she’s a vegetarian) and asked the Princess for the recipe. I was particularly pleased to enjoy the rhubarb pie. A couple of years ago Mr. Joe Grist from Lexington had given me some rhubarb plants from his garden and I planted them in my little vegetable garden. The plants have done extremely well but with rhubarb you’re not supposed to harvest the stalks for the first two years, so this was the first time we had eaten any of the rhubarb. Thanks Mr. Grist!
After dinner, we did laundry and got prepped for our first day of slacking. I made a call to our local hiking guru, Buddy (Foxfire) Johnson, who has hiked all of the AT, to make sure I had good driving directions to the Dragon’s Tooth parking lot. Whiskers and Rocket went to bed early but I stayed up as late as I could with the Princess. My normal bedtime now is 8:00 p.m. so it was a challenge to stay awake until almost 10:00. I barely made it…