We left Trail Days refreshed and in high spirits. We met so many of the right people and Damascus was warm and welcoming despite the police hummers and k9 sniffers. Darren from Paramount Fit Foods graciously offered to drive us. 120 miles back to Four Pines Hostel.
From there we climbed up to McAfee Knob in the sweltering jungle steam. It was finally a hot and sunny day. Just before the final climb up to the knob we were greeted by Dakota Dan in the trail head parking lot. He thru hiked last year and was down to dole out some much needed trail magic. Mr. Dallas needed lunches and Dakota Dan provided the pasta sides fruit snacks and ramen. Muffins needed a cold mellow yellow and Busch light and he received such items from the mercy of Dakota Dan. Still Dont scarved down some blue berry poptarts and a soda. Dumpstermouth tilted the remaining contents of Dakota Dan's cooler, packaging and all, into his receptacle. He burped and smacked his lips against his mustache and we trodded up to the knob. At the top we had nothing to do but explore hidden caves and soak up the view. There was plenty of sun left in the day and a campsite was only .7 of a mile away. Shirts came off and black flies from Hades came out to midge us. Shirts went right back on once the breeze of protection died down with the setting sun. Muffins and Rickshaw went down to set up camp, but forgot to grab the tent stakes on the way down. At one point or another we all satyred through the caves and boulder fields overgrown with dwarfish trees. Something that lived in those rocks with big green eyes silently followed Still Dont down to camp after dark. He managed to make it down the switchbacks without being eaten.
When we woke up the next morning it was warm and sunny. Spiders of every imaginable species invaded every open crevice inside our tents under the cover of darkness. Muffins gave a quick reality check to a brown hairy giant spider sewing an egg sack into his pack cover. One flick from those Polish potato fingers is all it takes to dispatch most Appalachian nuisances. It was a beautiful ridge run up to Tinker Cliffs. Rickshaw informed Mr. Dallas that the pot and pan fixers and makers hid out on the cliffs during the Revolutionary War. There was some doubt in the air as to the places true namesake. The vista was filling with clouds billowing and growing darker.
We had lunch in Lambert's meadow and a few sprinkles fell out if the sky. It looked like it might be a mad dash to Daleville but it is seldom possible to outrun the rain. Muffins made it down the mountain first. Along the rocky ridge he could get a clear view of the sky and the storm blowing in from across the valley miles away. When the mountains disappear beneath the clouds on the horizon you know a monsoon aproacheth.
Muffins made it to the campsite and had a tarp and fire going before the sky broke loose in a cold rain. Mr. Dallas decided he would rather be wet than steaming hot in a rain suit so he just got wet. Still Dont realized he no longer had a rain jacket and was showered in the cold as well. Dumpstermouth rolled into camp last sopping and all smiles. When we left Daleville the next day it was cooler but still warm enough to brew up some scary looking clouds. We made it up to Wilson Creek shelter before the real violence unleashed. The rain came down like a torrent and had a percussive roar of its own smashing through the trees. All huddled inside the shelter, we watched it like a spectacle.
A brilliant pink zap exploded from behind the shelter. The strike was so close our ears were ringing. Embers fell out from the sky and drifted down in front of us before quickly vanishing into the rain beaten mud. That was a close one.
The storm blew by quick and we ate beef tacos with rice green peppers onions and parmesan cheese. We went to sleep with dreams of sausage and Polish hand grenade halupkis dancing about in our knarled hiker trash brains. Polish Sausage and stuffed Cabbage halupkis hand made by Jeff and Denise Douglas. This suacey goodness put us straight into a food coma, and then supercharged us for the rest of the day. Awesome trail magic. Thank you so much for driving out on the Blue Ridge Parkway to deliver us some home made super foods!