We woke up early and had earl gray tea and bagels with cream cheese, then packed up to make it the eight miles in to the shelter by the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area Visitors Center. The shelter has free showers for hikers, and a 50 cent public transit ride into the town of Marion, VA for resupply. Uncle Avery hung out in his hammock with a book; Orion curled up underneath him; and we, the smelly hikers, took a shower and caught the bus to Marion for lunch and grocery shopping.
We returned well fed and ready to head on. The afternoon was warm (overly so). The sun made us all a little lethargic and the kids expressed their skepticism of pushing on despite the heat. Cartwheel caught an inadvertent trekking pole to the mouth, and RobinHood inspected the damage (Mama Bear offered sympathy and All In reached for the camera). As the sun sank lower in the sky we were treated to a cool afternoon breeze and an ice-cold spring gurgling out of the mountain side.
The setting sun found us in beautiful farm country, with the dogwoods in full bloom, and the apple trees starting to flower as well. A settler’s museum with an old schoolhouse left treats for hikers inside and a friendly note inviting them in on the door. We hiked into the cool evening hours and set up camp a short distance from the middle fork of the Holston river: Avery and Maddy in the hammocks and the rest of us in the tent.