So I left Wood's Hole finally and hauled to meet my dad near Troutdale to hike Grayson Highlands together. This included my 2nd biggest day: 27 miles. Sight unseen I picked a spot for him to meet me. It just so happened that out of the 540 miles in VA, this was by far the prettiest. Some of the highlights:
-Feral Ponies! In order to maintain the bald mountains here, ponies were introduced to graze and trample down. They're very small, but fat and happy. Quite tenacious, too. As much as it would have been a cool story to have been attacked by wild ponies, I decided not to try and ride one. Maybe some day...
-Snow. That's right, it snowed and sleeted on us on Tuesday. Yesterday however, was a quintessential fall day: it started cold and windy and slowly warmed up to mid-70s golden sunlight and long shadows in a wood ever more diverse in color. Fall is in full swing, folks. I sent my hammock home and replaced it's weight with a warm fleece, long johns, gloves and a stove. This week I cooked for the first time in 1,300 miles. I'm definitely glad for hot food again. The weather should be warmer again through the weekend, but It's still chilly at night. Never before have I noticed the vast differences in the changing of the seasons.
The best part was definitely getting to hike and spend some uninterrupted time with my dad. (As one hiker pointed out, Paps is meeting his Pops to hike). I've had a chance to see my mom and brother briefly further North, so now that rounds out my family visits. We had a great time hiking over the big balds of the highlands through some gorgeous scenery. It was cold, but we had a warm fire both nights, drank some J.D. (what can I say, my dad knows how to pack for a 3 day trip), and played cribbage. I've been practicing. When we got to town we had burgers and beer before I had to say good bye. It was hard- 3 days flew by and I wish there had been more time. It just means we'll have to plan more trips like this in the future. Truth be told, much of our time talking was spent discussing what would make good trips in the future.
Right now I'm in Damascus, VA (supposedly the friendliest town on the trail) drinking coffee at Mojoe's, which happens to serve my favorite coffee from Leopard Forest in T.R. South Carolina. Time to move on down the trail. My nightly stops are a lot more specific now as I have to stay in shelters exclusively. So...here we go!
P.S. I'll finally be out of Virginia today!