Rain is the worst part of tenting. I was hoping the 40% chance of "scattered thunderstorms" would pass us by, but alas, they did not. Around midnight or 1 am, a thunderstorm with long, rolling thunder passed by, and in the morning, it just rained.
I had intended to leave camp at 7, but wound up not even getting out of my tent until more like 7:15, after the rain finally stopped, and didn't leave until almost 8:30. Packing up the tent is still not a quick activity for me, and the rain only complicated the process. The rain fly and ground tarp were soaking wet, and needed to be packed into the same bag as the tent body, which was wet on the bottom, but still dry on the inside. Ideally, this would happen without making anything wetter than it already was, especially since I expected to use the tent again tonight.
Leaving late made it harder to get to the intended goal, Trent's Grocery, almost 26 miles away from where I started, before they closed, but I started the day off giving it my best shot, with an average of 3.4 mph the first two hours of the day, when I stopped for trail magic.
Shortly before the I-77 overpass, in front of a church (because they were across the street yesterday and got sunburned) were AT thru-hike veterans, Eric "Danno" (2013), and Richard "Comfortably Numb" (four times; first in 1989, most recently in 2014), and Eric's wife Sarah. When I was there, they were offering soda (coke and a peach soda), Powerade, bananas, hard-boiled eggs, and shuttles into Bland, VA.
I was half-tempted to take the shuttle into town for Subway and/or Dairy Queen, but with a schedule I wanted to keep, I passed on the offer. (My waistline does not approve.) I tried a peach soda. It … tasted like peaches.
About six miles later, just as I was sitting down for a snack, I got a message from Beast, who had taken a shuttle into Bland. I'm unclear exactly why; I'll get the full story when we meet up in Pearisburg on Friday. He's also trying to coordinate some sort of slackpacking with his sister and her boyfriend, who will be in town this weekend.
While I was eating my snack, Beast also did me the favor of calling the Woods Hole hostel to check out a rumor I had heard, that they'd be closed during Trail Days (this weekend, in Damascus). Turns out they're not (but might not be serving meals on Saturday since the owner is attending Trail Days). He also took the liberty of reserving a room for me, since they appeared to be going quickly. So, that's definitely my destination for tomorrow, now.
After reentering the woods after the interstate, the next 11 miles or so of the trail were relatively featureless, and there was very little in the way of anything at all. Views, road crossings, and water were all pretty rare this afternoon.
I made it to the Jenny Knob Shelter, 18.8 miles ahead of where I started, around 3:30. After stopping for a snack and water, it was closer to 4. This made making it the rest of the way to Trent's (another 7.5 miles or so) with enough time while they were still open unlikely, and not wanting to tent again in the rain, elected to stay here.
Fortunately, there was enough sun through the tree cover that I could dry out my tent, which was a lot easier with very few people here, since I could take up a lot of space.
Until 7 pm or so, there were only three of us here (me, and a married couple of section-hikers), when more people slowly started trickling in. Everyone else is tenting though. It wasn't until shortly before 9 pm when someone else showed up to use the shelter (so, I only have half a shelter to myself; it's still more than enough).
It started to rain about ten minutes ago (and now, it's pouring). I'm so glad I'm in the shelter, rather than tenting. I may just get out of here early tomorrow.
Tomorrow: 22.2 miles to Woods Hole hostel. Have to make it there, because there's nothing else between the next shelter and there.