On the way to the Benton MacKaye Trail
Sunday, April 14, 2019 10:09 pm

Trains are the way long-distance travel ought to work. Show up about half an hour before departure, get on the train, and off it goes, right on time. And as long as there isn’t anything weird, you wind up at your destination, also right on time, and with no bumpy turbulence or traffic to deal with.

My friends Andrew and Monica arrived right on time to pick us up, and after a brief detour to their house to drop off some extra perishable food CareFree and I didn’t finish, they drove us into DC and dropped us off at Union Station.

About 20 minutes later, we were on our train. Unlike last time, there were no other hikers present. (Or, perhaps, exactly like last time, there was me and one other hiker — CareFree.)

Unfortunately, the only available seats for two people getting off at Gainesville, GA, were at the front of a car, with no window and an empty bulkhead in front of us, with no tray table. However, the attendant told us that they’d be able to move us to another seat a bit further down the line, once some spaces opened up.

With some of the extra food we had at home, CareFree made us each two tiny little bagel sandwiches and a bag of vegetables and cheese to snack on. We dug into the sandwiches shortly after the train pulled out of Union Station. They were tasty, but not filling, and we found ourselves suddenly starving, so went back to the train’s food car to get something somewhat substantial.

I got an angus beef cheeseburger, which, though somewhat rubbery, was still edible. The burger came with a soda and a bag of chips; all together, it was still fewer calories than one box of macaroni and cheese that forms a portion of my dinner while on the trail.

We lamented missing tonight’s premiere of the final season of Game of Thrones, but alas, some sacrifices are necessary on long-distance hikes. We’ll just have to catch up once we get back home in a few weeks. (Motivation to hike faster, maybe?)

As expected, we moved to new seats directly behind where we were sitting as the train reached Charlottesville and the two people that had been there got off the train. Now that we’re not going anywhere for the rest of the evening, we started to get ready for “bed”. I’d already gotten my fleece out of my pack since it was starting to get cooler on the train. CareFree got her sleeping bag out and used it as a blanket, spreading it over the two of us. It was a brilliant idea; I wish I’d had thought of that for my train ride on the AT, when it was actually somewhat cold on the train. Somehow, in spite of the rain outside, it is incredibly dry in the train; they must have the AC turned up fairly high.

As we travel through whatever towns and suburbs are just south of Charlottesville, the train’s horn sounds almost continuously, alerting everyone outside that the train is passing some at-grade crossing. It’s somewhat annoying inside the train; I can only imagine how disturbing it must be to people who live nearby and have to hear the horn blare every night.

Only about three and a half hours into our twelve-and-a-half hour ride, we’re somewhere near Lynchburg, VA, and it’s time to get some shut-eye. I want to be well-rested for a great day of hiking tomorrow.

Georgia, here we come!

Off To The Trail!
Off To The Trail!CareFree and Longstride