What started off as a bad week ended up becoming one of my favorite on the trail.  It began with Spriglet having to get off the trail due to a leg injury and some family stuff.  This was a big blow to our team.  We miss him a lot.  That same day, I got dehydrated and nearly passed out/threw up several miles up the mountain.

Now flash forward to Thursday.  After a long, hot slow day of hiking I met several ladies in a women’s hiking club.  We talked for a bit then they gave me some candy and suggested that I spend the night on top of Spy Rock.  I didn’t know what it was, but that gave me the little push I needed.  They also mentioned that they would be doing Trail Magic at a road crossing Saturday morning.

I got to Spy Rock just before sunset and all my friends were already there.  We rock climbed all of our stuff up to the top where there was a perfect 360º view and watched the sunset with Candy and Poptarts.  Afterwards, Excalibur and Jokes and I cowboy camped under the stars.  I can’t imagine a more perfect night!

In the morning we were determined.  There was a big day ahead of us.  By 9:00am we had hiked four miles to “The Priest’ shelter to confess our sins.  The Priest is a famous shelter on the AT where thru hikers confess rules they have broken and write them in a log book.  It was hilarious to read everyone’s entries.  I confessed that I had yellow blazed 14 miles from Pearisburg to The Captain’s Party and deeply regretted it.  We hung out there for a while and then were off.

We hiked four more miles up a mountain and then down about 4000 feet.  At the bottom we got a hitch to a nearby campground where the owner gave us a bunch of free snacks.  It was awesome!  I ate ice cream, chips, soda, sour patch kids, two chocolate bars and drank a Coke.  Then after all that the owner gave us a free hitch back to the trail  It turns out that he is a past thru hiker and just likes to help us out.

It was already 2:30 by the time we got back to the trail and we didn’t really think that it would be possible to reach our goal destination before sundown, so we decided to take a quick swim in a nearby swimming hole.  It was fun, but after about an hour, we heard thunder and knew we had to get moving fast.  We got soaked, but it didn’t really matter, because we knew we still had to do a huge climb straight up the mountain.  It was exhausting and morale was low, but after many hours we got to the top.  It was just before 7:00.

Without much consideration, we made the snap judgement to make the final push to the Devil’s Backbone Brewery.   The only problem was that there was only about an hour and a half of sunlight left and we had almost six miles to walk.  Most people hike at a rate of about 2.5 miles per hour, so we knew we had to cruise.  We also didn’t know if the brewery closed at 9:00 or 10:00, but we were determined.  I’ve never hiked so hard in my life.  We ran, fell and tripped a lot, but somehow made it to the road crossing by 8:20.  After a few minutes we got a hitch and made it there before 9:00.  The best part was they didn’t close until 10:00!

We got hamburgers, nachos and plenty of beer and just had a wonderful time.  If you are ever in the area, you need to go to Devil’s Backbone Brewery.  It’s some of the best beer I’ve ever tasted, great food, and really nice staff.  I’d for sure give it a 10 out of 10!  After they closed we set up camp on their property (they allow free tenting too!) and fell asleep.

Now I’m sitting here writing this in the beautiful Virginia mountains and am about to get a full hiker breakfast from the brewery (did I mention that this place is awesome?), then it’s back to the trail where I belong.  Oh, and the road crossing we are at just happens to be where the ladies are doing Trail Magic this morning.  They said it’s mimosas and donuts.  I can live with this!



I am dedicating this hike to the orphaned children at Heart for Africa in Swaziland.  For more information, I hope you visit my fundraising page at:  gofundme.com/st984k



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