Friday, April 17, 2015
After several days of exploring Shenandoah National Park, our adventure led us further South. Spending hours of hiking, camping, and exploring new parts of the park, we desperately needed a long, hot shower. The closest college town on the map was Harrisonburg, Virginia, which would provide us not only with a cheap room, but also with a variety of locally brewed beers to sample. Yes, it was spontaneous; although, exactly what we needed. A short hour after leaving the park, I felt the hot water washing the campfire smoke off my skin and pine needles from my hair. The feeling I experienced during my shower was indescribable and beyond any words.
Fresh as a cucumber, we searched for some of Harrisonburg’s downtown hidden gems. At 3 Brothers Brewery we enjoyed our first beers back in civilization, followed by an out of this world, extremely hot, lip plumping, yet delicious burger at Jack Brown’s Beer and Burger Joint. Mmm, mmm, good.
Saturday, April 18, 2015
After a good night sleep at a Motel 6, we spent most of the day with errands before we hit the road towards McAfee Knob near Roanoke, Virginia. Due to our late start and our many accomplishments of the day, we decided to make just a quick pit stop for that evening’s dinner. Our indecisiveness about our nourishment source, was quickly resolved by giving in the stomach grumbles as soon as we saw the signage for Burger King. I am pretty sure I had never been that excited about a fast food chain than on that day. Introduced to a completely new menu, I picked the biggest burger I could possibly order. Of course, with extra pickles.
Energized by our enormous meals and happy to be back on the trail, we followed the 4.4 miles up the Appalachian Trail to the top of McAfee Knob, where an astonishing 270 degree panorama awaited us. Unfortunately, we quickly noticed that we were not the only ones, who enjoyed the crisp, mountain air. As we approached the top, millions of hungry mosquitoes descended upon us. With our sanity in mind, we kept our visit short and proceeded towards the shelter on the far side of the mountain.
Due to a large group of boy scouts settled at the shelter, we pitched our tent a little further up the trail among other fellow campers. Our neighbor for the night was Jeff, an amateur mushroom hunter from North Carolina, with whom we sat around the campfire as the lights of Roanoke, Virginia began to twinkle in the distance.
Sunday, April 19, 2015 – Monday, April 20, 2015
The mountain was covered in a thick fog as we woke and the weather report called for rain later in the day. We decided to skip breakfast and hurry down the mountain ahead of the looming forecast. We barely reached the car as the clouds broke and the rain began. To escape the showers, our solution was to find a room in Blacksburg, VA to wait it out.
After a quick search, we booked two, cheap nights via Airbnb at a private home near downtown Blacksburg. We spent most of our first day huddled in a Starbucks to avoid getting soaked and spent the following day exploring the Virginia Tech campus. I have to admit, Virginia Tech was a beautiful, with its huge grassy field in the middle of the campus surrounded by old, stone buildings. I really enjoyed strolling around the town and feel the warmth of the sun on my face before we had to hide from the rain clouds again later in the afternoon.
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Feeling the sugar in our veins from delicious donuts and coffee from Carol Lee Donut Shop, we tackled the beautiful Cascade Falls and Barney’s Wall hike outside Blacksburg. The trail followed the Little Stoney Creek over moss covered, stone stairs, walkways, and bridges through a narrow gorge leading to a massive 66 foot waterfall. The surge of the waterfall produced a gusting mist that cooled us as we climbed out of the valley floor. Past the cascades we circled out and around the valley for a few more miles until we reached a stunning overlook at Barney’s Wall. I almost suffered from a panic attack as James peered over the edge of the sheer cliff while lying on his stomach. We enjoyed the view of the valley and the birds flying far below before heading back the way we came to wrap up the day’s hike.