Day 9: Rural Retreat, VA ➡️ Troutdale, VA (Rest Day)

Today’s Mileage: 22.4

Total Mileage: 454.4

Last night, we slept behind a Dollar General, so we had so many food and drink options at our fingertips! And a bathroom! 🤓 We decided to take a rest day today, so we didn’t set any alarms and slept in until we woke up from our tents getting hot from the sun. It was awesome to be able to mosey into the Dollar Store and pick out what we wanted to eat for breakfast.

Even though it was a rest day, we decided to ride about 22 miles down the road to a hostel for Appalachian Trail (AT) hikers as well as bike tourists. The ride to the hostel was basically over a mountain….and let me tell you, the Dollar Store must have some type of magic leg-healing powers because my legs felt rejuvenated…they felt better than they have since we started. Maybe I just needed a few extra hours of sleep.

Well, you guessed it…we rode through the Virginia countryside today. It was basically the most beautiful day that has ever existed in the history of days. There were no clouds in sight, and the air was cool with no humidity. The tailwind gods blessed us for a little bit this morning, but then they turned into crosswinds, and before we knew it, we had a full on headwind for most of the day. But, as frustrating as headwinds can be, my legs still felt great.

We saw a man on a tractor in the distance, and it just looked like a really pretty picture. As we were taking pictures, a truck pulled up. A good ol’ Virginia farm boy rolled down his window and said, “Have y’all never seen a tractor before?” We laughed.

Oh, and I saw more horses!

As we left the countryside and started climbing over the mountain to get to the town we were staying in, the road started going up and up, but my legs felt great. I think they felt great due to the fact that it was a long steady climb instead of a short and steep climb. Even though we were in the mountains, we still saw some tractors…kind of an odd combination.

When we arrived to the hostel, we had to push our bikes up this extremely steep gravel driveway.

We were pleasantly surprised to see how nice the hostel was. There were bunks where you can put your sleeping pad and sleeping bag. There were plenty of outlets, some chairs, a microwave, and even some popcorn. There was a water source and clotheslines to hang clothes on….oh, and a picnic table!

But, there was no phone service. In fact, we had no phone service all day long. I was worrying about people being worried about me. I talk to Craig and my parents quite a bit throughout the day, but not today. 😢

After I claimed my bunk, I decided to walk back down the steep gravel driveway to find someone who might have a house phone. Thankfully, an elder lady was working out in her yard. I asked her to use her house phone. She hesitated a bit, so I told her I needed to let my parents know I was ok because I knew they would be worrying. She went inside and brought her phone out to me. 😊

When I got back to our shelter, I looked at the hiker/biker log book…and guess who was just here yesterday?! Matthew and Manson!

I thought about them today. We had a terrible headwind, and I knew they had a fantastic tailwind.

Soon, other people began to arrive. The first man was an 87 year old backpacker. He wasn’t hiking the AT, but travels around and does a lot of backpacking. He was really nice and even helped me fix my pocket rocket stove, as one of the arms on it had gotten bent.

During mid conversation, two more backpackers poked their heads in. They were staying next door, and came over to talk. Let me tell you, they were super interesting; the type of people you could talk to about anything. For what it sounds like, they get lots of practice talking about anything, as they are AT through hikers and have been hiking the AT south to north since the beginning of April. Everyone, meet “Squeeks” (Naomi) and “Freakzoid” (Cody).

If you are unfamiliar with the Appalachian Trail nickname concept, everyone who hikes the AT gets assigned a nickname by fellow hikers pretty quickly…usually during the first week. AT hikers give each other unusual nicknames because they are easier to remember than peoples real names. The hikers often pass each other or meet up at shelters at night, so they really get to know each other. “Squeeks” and “Freakazoid” met on the AT and have been hiking together for a while. “Squeeks” is from Anchorage, Alaska and gets her trail name from her laugh, while “Feeakazoid”, from Port Angeles, Washington, gets his trail name because he is super smart and knows basically everything and can even do difficult math computations in his head. He had several degrees by the time he was 18!

After some chit chat, they invited Mash and I to play some Rummy. So, we played rummy whilst talking about gear, hygiene, and contemplating the benefit and drawbacks of artificial intelligence. 😂

Then, “Hoodlum” arrived. Hoodlum is also hiking the AT from south to north. He got his name because his last name is Hood and apparently someone heard him rapping to himself while hiking to keep himself entertained. 😂 He was super nice as well. We talked about gear, bikes, and he even helped me fix the zipper on my sleeping bag.

I think it goes without saying that it was a fun and interesting day. It was really nice to be able to sit around and not have anything to be doing or any place to be. It was nice to hang out with people of the same tribe: vagabonds who are traveling around and enjoying nature and just being free. It’s strange and kind of sad to have such great conversations with people who you likely won’t ever see again. Sometimes it’s hard to meet people who are on the same wavelength as you.

I cooked some pasta to carb up for tomorrow and headed to bed.

Aspen🌲🌲🌲

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