One of the most bizzare days on the trail yet. Left from Mountaineer Falls (one of the coolest shelters yet). Ended up running into Code Red, who was slackpacking with her boy friend in the wrong direction lol. Also got to meet Duct tape and Mr Bean, both super awesome and chill guys. Hiked with Duct for a while, until he pushed past. There was also a random bench in the middle of the woods about 8 miles from a road..
Oh random fact, Woods Ear (the mushroom pictured below) is perfectly edible… Though I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s pretty… Leathery and tasteless. Don’t ask how I know. Soaking did very little to improve the texture.
I did find an old ass cabin on the side of the trail, which would have been a neat spot for a shelter (though I’m sure Bob Peoples wouldn’t have appreciated it considering it was right next to his hostel)
After catching up to the hostel intersection, I decided I would push on to see Laurel Falls and get McDonald’s before sunset. Allegedly, Kincora was unfortunately going down hill from what I heard up the trail, and that Bob wasn’t shuttling hikers to McDonald’s because it was Easter. That was enough reason for me to keep walking!
So on I went,through old train trails and valleys in the quest for these legendary falls.
Getting to the interaction to go to the falls, I had a choice right then: shelter or falls? I looked over the edge of what appeared to be a “trail” dropping straight off to where I imagined the base of the Falls would be. It was already starting to get later in the afternoon, and I knew that I would spend some time soaking in the view, so I said screw it and left the shelter behind to begin the perilous decent down the trail.
Many day trippers were climbing up the rock face. I had a hard enough time maneuvering the drop with my pack, and everyone regardless of atheletic shape, age, or direction of travel chosen seemed to curse the rocky wall.
Finally getting to the bottom, I ran into Ryan who was having a conversation with a middle aged local man with a cow boy hat. I spoke briefly with the two, but couldn’t hold my attention long with the roaring cascade just 100 yards behind them. I roughly broke conversation, while they were saying something about getting a ride into town, and dropped my pack and clambered the last few lengths to the waters edge. The sound itself was completely overwhelming, let alone the intense massive view.
After sitting there over half an hour, the Sun was well out of view by this point. I half consciously remember the conversation about a free ride to McDonald’s, which made me put some spunk in my step to catch them. I knew they wouldn’t be going fast so I didn’t worry too much, there was still about 2 miles to the road. Coming around a corner though I did encounter one of the most bizarre terrains yet. The trail turned from a trail to the side of a large boulder, jutting out towards the water with just enough room to squeeze over to the other piece of land on the other side.
After finally catching up to Ryan and the other folks, I managed to talk them into letting me catch a ride with them to McDs (thanks for the lift :). They brought us over in our full hiker smell of glory, where I proceeded to order enough food to shame Man vs Food. 5 McDoubles, a 20pc Chicken mc nugget, and a large fry (I will confess I handed out a few mcnuggets). Also, Zombie came rolling up into the gas station out of nowhere and joined us (though his dinner had a lot less volume, had he eaten earlier? Good God I was still hungry after all that).
After filling my stomach to the point of looking like a pregnant woman (the compression shirts just make over eating look 100x more obvious), our ride asked if we wanted to stay the night in Johnson City with them! Zombie and Ryan jumped on board immediately, but I declined thinking that a family member of mine was going to stop in Hampton the next day. So they were nice enough to give me a ride to the hostel in town, (which took it’s own effort just to find) and drop me off. It wad late, around 930 or so, but Mr Brown didn’t seem too irritated thankfully. He promptly led me up to the bunk area, where I had the entire upper floor of an old train station to myself. I proceeded to explode my pack all over the room, and shortly there after passed out.