Since last writing we've entered into North Carolina, and met the coldest weather of our trip so far! Who knew that was possible?
After leaving Roanoke, we headed southwest to Christiansburg, VA on route 11. We stayed with Warm Showers hosts Colin and Becca, and arrived just before it started to rain! Colin is a fellow UVM grad! Thanks guys!
On Colin's recommendation, we decided to hit the New River Trail - a Rail to Trail path - that follows the river for just over 50 miles. Despite the chill in the air, it was extremely scenic, winding past green pastures and through technicolor leaves. It was a great low, and therefore warmer, alternative to the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Our first night, we camped right off of the trail in Foster Falls, an old village with cool old buildings. For more shelter, we set our tent up in the stage area of an amphitheater! Presenting...Emily and Margaret!
The next day we finished the trail extremely chilled in Galax, VA. We warmed up for a while in a BBQ Smokehouse, the only business open in the downtown on a Sunday. It was there that we found out frost was predicted that night! We decided to continue on the Blue Ridge, as we had initially planned, since weather would likely be more extreme there. Luckily, some friendly people at the Galax Methodist Church helped us out and put us up for the night.
The next morning there was frost everywhere, so we were lucky to have been inside! What's more, the sun had returned after being absent for three or so days. Wahoo! That made a huge difference. We got back on the Blue Ridge, and had a beautiful clear and warm day. It was so nice to be in just a jersey and shorts again, after so many days of layering up and down! The previous days had been a constant struggle with layers to find a balance between being hot and sweaty from activity and chilled from the wind and cold. When we stopped for lunch at a crest, a woman in her car asked us, "Where y'all from?" When we replied Vermont, she said, "VERMONT?!" and proceeded to take our pictures because, "anyone who does that deserves a photo to be taken."
We spent Monday night on the Blue Ridge in a nice spot off the road. It was cold when we went to bed, but we were still surprised to wake up this morning to frost again! We hung out in our sleeping bags while we waited for the day to heat up. And heat up it did! We even managed to get a little sunburned! We were forced to detour off the ridge towards Boone due to a rock slide. When we stopped at a small gas station and mini mart to fill up water bottles, we were the talk of the town in no time. Some old timers who looked like fixtures on the outside benches were fascinated by our travels, asking us questions and offering up their own stories. One gentleman showed us pictures of his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren in the local rodeo.
We spent the night in Boone with some fellows from the warm showers gig. We had a lovely night of annies mac, boggle, and meeting bicycle enthusiast friends, as well as a jem of a dog named Praise Break. Even though we only spent an afternoon and evening in Boone, we were both pleasantly surprised and taken with the town. We could easiy immagine ourselves there.
Thanks Winklers Creek guys!
We struck out from Boone Wednesday morning and got back on the Blue Ridge. It was a super sunny, spectacular and hot day! The views were even more astounding then before. We wanted to make sure we got close to 50 miles in since we were hoping to make it to Asheville, (which is about 100 miles from Boone)the following night, so after 47 miles when we found a flat spot to pitch our tent off the side of the road, we were ready for it and psyched. Right after we had pitched our tent a pickup pulled over and the driver came out to tell us that it is illegal to guerilla camp in that area, and that a ranger would probaly be by to give us the boot. However, he did offer his yard up as a free spot to throw a tent...and we took him up on it! He and his wife also clued us into the fact that Mount Mitchel, the highest peak east of the Mississippi, stood between us and Asheville. Awww man! We lack maps that show elevation- a major flaw in our plans. Wanting to make it to Ashville by Thursday night, we decided to cheat a little and catch a ride with a pickup a ways up the mountain the next day.
The lengths we go to, to stay warm...
Luckily, we met Karen and Charlie, a nice retired couple from Georgia, with a pickup. They helped us up the mountain, so we were free to coast down the other side. Again, the day was sunny and clear, so the views and ride down were truely breathtaking. We were so inspired that we wrote a Haiku:
Feet clipped in real tight
The miles pass like minutes
This must be cloud nine
View from atop Mount Mitchel
Bonus Photo with Mustaches!!!
We're super excited about getting to check out Asheville!