Rain, rain, go away.
It was raining whenever I woke up during the night, it was raining all morning, raining all afternoon and then it rained all evening for good measure.
I knocked out a quick 6 miles to get to Skyland, another hotel and cabin complex just off trail with a fancy restaurant and gift shop but also a cafe where they don’t (seem to) mind hikers messing the place up. I was only in there for 40 minutes but while drying out and having a coffee and family approached me and asked me about my hike and I told the kids about the wildlife I had seen and things like that. I even let Dad try on my pack. As I was leaving the Mum called after me, “You’re awesome!” which shows how perceptive she is.
And here is a video of one of the best views of the Blue Ridge mountains: YouTube
Around lunchtime I realised that my target mileage put me around the place that the one hostel accessible in SNP does pickup. It seemed masochistic to deliberately avoid a dry and warm evening and night so I called Alison at Open Arms in Luray and she agreed to pick me up later in the afternoon. Now I had something to look forward to the afternoon hiking passed easier as every piece of mud on me was not going to survive much longer.
I found two college kids from Massachusetts, Alex and Tommy, also waiting and shivering. They are hiking 60 miles out-and-back for 12 days to prepare for a thru-hike attempt next year. Once we got picked up and taken to what is effectively Alison’s private home, we got cleaned up and laundry done. I was hungry already so microwaved a pizza and took a bite only to find it much crunchier than expected, which soon became apparent was due to my tooth being chipped – a chunk size actually. Change of plans for tomorrow then as Alison will find me an emergency dentist.
We then got taken to a Chinese restaurant for dinner and hung out until bed.