We woke up early and well-rested from sleeping in the Jeep. I wouldn’t say it was the most comfortable night sleep we’ve every had, but it worked. We ate breakfast, packed up and the boys were on their way by 8:30. The hike from Dripping Rock to Tye River was 15.5 miles and a little bit harder than yesterday. Buddy is really into all the switchbacks they have in Virginia so far. He likes to hike a little bit behind Dion so he can be on the other part of the switchback and watch him hike. I was able to hike up to Chimney Rock, about 5 miles in an meet them for lunch. We stopped at the view and had turkey sandwiches and yogurt covered raisins, it’s nice to break up the monotony of snickers and powerbars every once in a while. We finished up around 5, and after looking at the book to see what tomorrow held for them, Dion made the executive decision to drive to the next road crossing, USFS 246, camp there and go over Priest mountain heading north, so they had a 3000 foot decent instead of climb. So, we took that absolutely beautiful hour drive together. The back roads of Virginia where you don’t see another car all day are so incredibly beautiful in Autumn.
We parked right next to the trail and set up our tent up right next to the Jeep. I knew there was a chance of rain, but I would sacrifice putting away a wet tent in the rain for the extra space rather than sleeping in the Jeep again. Unfortunately, it didn’t just rain on us that night, it poured! All night long, nonstop, it rained and the wind howled. I only knew this because unfortunately for the fourth time this trip, I am having sleeping pad issues, and I woke up to blow my pad up several times. I was amazed when I finally woke up for the last time around 6:30 to see that our sleeping pads were only an inch higher than the water inside our tent. The walls were only slightly dripping, but because we unknowingly put our tent on gravel again. We were sleeping in a huge puddle. I made moves on turning the jeep on, getting Buddy inside and then moved everything in the trunk out of the way, and just piled all of our soaking wet gear inside. Thank god for the jeep, in so many ways. While water was pouring out of the tent as I packed it away, Dion and I decided it would probably be a good idea to take the day off. We really didn’t want to because we’ve only just gotten back on the trail, the chances that it will stop raining were pretty good, and we were all in a good mood despite being soaked. But, mostly because Buddy’s sleeping bag was wet, the tent was completely soaked and all our iPods were dead, we decided it was a good idea to zero. We went down to Lexington to do our laundry and spent most of the day at the library. Buddy loves to read and was really excited he got to read Green Eggs and Ham to a friend he made while playing trains. He is so incredibly smart, it amazing how much he has learned since we began this trip. We stopped by Glen Maury Park campground to take showers, then headed back to the same spot we got soaked the night before. After carefully checking the weather, we decided we would be safe to tent there again, knowing this time it definitely was not going to rain.
We had a pretty leisurely morning today, waking up pretty late, it was a little cold though so they boys got ready inside the Jeep with the heat on. I think they might be getting a little spoiled! We all got ready, and they headed north to conquer Priest mountain. I went back to the parking area on USFS 246 and headed South until I ran into them near the top of Mt Priest on their 16.5 mile day. We didn’t get back to the car until 6:30, but decided to drive back to the same spot we’ve been staying at the past few nights to head south out there in the morning. Buddy thought the hike was pretty easy and was excited to see several other south-bounders during the day. It makes us really happy to know there are still others out here with us!
We got the extremely unfortunate news that poor “Cub” is going to need surgery on her broken arm and so the Florida Flip Floppers will return home for a little bit. They are hoping to get the surgery done as soon as possible and get back on the trail right after. We send them all our love and are thinking about them as they face this hard part of their journey! Things on the trail always seem to happen for a reason, so we can not wait to see the happy ending in this!