Well, about seven miles into what was supposed to be a twenty-six mile hike we decided that the saying about “If you wanna get to Maine, you gotta walk in the rain” did not apply today. The weather conditions were miserable (at least as bad as yesterday) and we just weren’t having that much fun.
So at the Catawba Mountain parking lot on Route 311 I called Homer Witcher who is listed in the guidebook as a 2002 AT thru-hiker who shuttles hikers and helps maintain the trail as a member of the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club. Homer said that he was available to come get us and would be there to pick us up in twenty minutes. We were really relieved and happy!
While we waited under the roof of a trail information kiosk we noticed a nice display of local students’ art work. As it turns out the art work was done by students of Chip Donahue who is a teacher in Roanoke, Virginia and is following my blog. So to Chip and his students…Thanks so much for lifting our spirits! – from Walker, Whiskers and Rocket. One bit of advice that we learned from your art is to always take a Clif bar on a hike. That’s a good one and we’ll do our best to comply.
Homer pulled into the parking lot right on time and we loaded our gear into his trunk, hopped in the car and immediately fogged up his windows so that he had to turn the defroster on full blast. We were pretty chilled and didn’t mind at all. Homer is an interesting guy. He and his wife and two children, who were eleven and eight at the time, thru-hiked the entire AT in 2002. We talked to him a lot about that because none of us can imagine taking two young children on such a long and arduous hike. It’s an amazing story! The children carried their own packs which weighed about twenty percent of their body weight. That’s a lot – my pack weighs about fourteen percent of my body weight.
Homer shuttled us back to my car in Daleville and we thanked him profusely for helping us out. We started driving back to Lexington, made a brief stop in Buena Vista to pick up a mail drop that Whiskers and Rocket had sent to the Blue Dog Art Cafe, stopped in at Uncorked to talk to the owner, who coordinates support services for AT thru-hikers, then drove to my house. We had a big lunch, did laundry and caught up on e-mail and other things we needed to do. In a little while Whiskers and Rocket are going to tour downtown Lexington and have dinner at The Bistro on Main and I am going to the Suwanee vs. Washington and Lee lacrosse game.
Tomorrow we’ll finish the hike from the Catawba Mountain parking lot to Daleville and if we’re lucky the weather will be nicer and there will be a good opportunity for photos at McAfee Knob.
Here’s a photo of Rocket and me with our new friend Homer…