We shuttled back to where we left the trail on Friday afternoon, expecting a tough day – we planned 32km, and were going to have a big climb (we thought) to the iconic McAfee Knob (the most photographed point on the AT), on a day where the temperature was predicted to be very high (heatwave conditions).
The first surprise was that the climb was really moderate. This area is apparently called the roller coaster – always up and down but not the long and steep ups and downs we had in Georgia and North Carolina (though we still had a 1200m ascend for the day). We arrived at McAfee Knob all ready to get the photo every AT hiker want to have, of him/herself on the overhanging rock.
With it being a Sunday on a long weekend the section up to McAfee was very busy – full of day/weekend hikers. Trevor took out his phone and this is where the first problem arrived. It said IPHONE DISABLED TRY AGAIN IN 15MINS. He had a new screen fitted yesterday and this was exactly 24hrs later, we suspected it had something to do with the new screen. Iso waiting 15mins he immediately tried (a few times) to get back in. No luck. We Googled (on my phone) but found no solution. We were both concerned, Trevor HAS to have his phone (those of you who know Trevor know he cannot live without his phone, it’s an extension of his hand, and further justifyable motivation is that our mapping app is on his phone) and this took our focus off being at this beautiful lookout. So iso having photos of ourselves on the rock we only have a photo of strangers on the rock 😀
We walked on, both of us going through options in our mind of how to solve this problem. At some point, maybe 30mins later, he pulled the phone out and everything was normal. Problem solved itself! Apple must be checking phones and take it offline to update libraries when they find new components – only explanation we can think of.
Luckily this happened before we got to Tinkler Cliffs, so we were focusing on the right things at the cliffs. Few of the McAfee visitors walk on to Tinkler, it’s probably best explained by comparing climbing up Table Mountain from Kirstenbosch iso from cable car station: the former quiet and peaceful, the latter overcrowded. There are multiple rock outcrops so the few groups up here could each have their own outcrop. We found a spot and had lunch here (and got our alternative photos):
While we were having lunch a woman (my age) and a younger guy walked up to us and asked if we were thru-hikers (they knew we were because they could see our red tags). The woman introduced herself (Jaywalker) and her son (Zorrow). He is thru-hiking and she is just joining him for the day. But….. She thru-hiked 30 years ago…! We asked her how tough it was in those years. She said not much tougher, they only had to cope without shuttles and hikers hostels, and she had to carry 9-10 days of food, but other than that it was the same. 9-10 days food!!!! Her bag weighed 52pounds, she said. Unbelievable – Trevor’s didn’t even weigh that much at the start (before he dumped all his not-really-essentials). She must have been a tough young girl. She met Zorrow’s dad on that thru-hike, proving there is Romance on the Trail 😀. You could see how this day walk with her son was bringing back the memories!
Other than gentler ups than we expected, the temperatures (though certainly high) was lower than the prediction – maybe the mountain temps are a bit lower than the towns in the valley. And – the more compact backpacks with lighter sleeping bags are wonderful: making a big difference. This was one of those EASIER THAN EXPECTED days. So far….
Logistically it made sense for us to stay in Daleville again tonight. 32km (which we are now trying to do per day to get to Harpers Ferry in time for Brandy Carlile concert) would bring us exactly into Daleville (remember we jumped to get here and then had to go back and walk here iso drive here 😀) and walking on to the next official camp site would be another 8km, too far for us. So we extended our booking to stay at the motel tonight too (but we didn’t slack pack:,Trevor decided we will walk every mile of this trail WITH our backpacks 😀). It is a bit of an indulgence: 3 bed nights in a row – but I think we deserve it….
The sun sets late – it’s almost 9h now and it is not yet dark. Because we were not going to be camping tonight we could have walked into town any time before 9h. We didn’t have the normal pressure of finding a camp site, pitching tent, cooking 2min noodles….
We just had to walk in, have a bath and get a pizza (Pizza Hut is adjacent to motel). There was no rush.
With 8km to go, as we got to a part of the trail which was very rocky and exposed to the direct sunlight (normally the green tunnel gives one protection from the harsh sun), Trevor started moving real fast. I was killing myself to not fall behind but I was, my feet were getting hot and my toes tender, by the time we got to 6km to go my sense of humour (and at my best I don’t have a great sense of humour) left me and for the first time on this holiday (it is after all a holiday) I got really mad with him. Not maturely annoyed, childishly mad. I stuffed all my skittles (which was supposed to last for another 6km) into my mouth in one go, allowing the chewy sourness to fuel on my irritation. When we got to 4km water break I said to him I will meet him at the motel as he is killing me with his pace. He is turning what was an easy-ish day into a really tough one by storming forward as if we need to do the last few kilometers in Caster Semenya speed when arriving 30mins earlier or later would make no difference to our evening, but is making a difference to my physical condition!!!
Instead of getting mad with me he said sorry (he did!!! 😀) if he was pushing too hard, he just wanted to get that stretch over with.
All is well now, we had our bath, our pizza (never had pizza hut but was better than we expected) and a real bed. We plan to leave here no later than 6h30 tomorrow.