Leaving Bastian, Nigel drove us from his Dojo to the local Dairy Queen where we ate breakfast. He was unable to give us a ride back to the trail from there because he had other plans. 5 of us were lucky enough to get a hitch up the road to the trail after about an hour. Luckily a guy came along with a large enough truck for everyone. I saw my first bear in the middle of the afternoon that day, right in the middle of the trail. They scare easily and was running off before I could even say anything. I saw another a few days later on a ridgeline on top of several rocks about 10 miles before the Captains Place.
After Bastian the next stop was Woods Hole Hostel, where I finally caught the Erwin Plague. I had a tougher time than usual hiking what should have been an easy day, and soon found out why when I was throwing up all day long. Most believe it is the Norovirus, just a stomach bug and it has been going around the hikers for at least the last month. After two zero days I was finally able to leave. It was a very nice place and would have been much better without the sickness.
From Woods Hole, it was an easy 10 mi to Pearisburg for a quick resupply and dinner at Hardee's. I just passed through as quick as I could, hoping to catch back up to my friends who only stayed one night at the hostel. I finally caught them a couple days later at the Captain's. He is a local who lives right off the trail. There is a "zip-line" to his place, but it is more like a seat hung from a cable with ropes to pull yourself across a creek. I missed his big hiker feed the day before, but still got some leftover hotdogs and sodas.
The next resupply point was Catawba, where I stayed at the Four Pines Hostel. This is a free hostel owned by Joe who lets hikers stay in a very large garage he has. It was a cool place, and everyone had a good time. It was just a two day resupply basically consisting of new snacks and junk food. There was a great All You Can Eat restaurant called the Homeplace. It is a family-style place with fried chicken, roast beef, and luckily on Thursdays, pulled pork, with several types of sides.
Two days later came Daleville/Troutville, two towns right next to each other along I-81. Stayed at the Howard Johnson for a zero to enjoy the pool and watch Netflix movies on my cellphone. Split a room with Coozie and Darwin. On the trail between Catawba and Daleville were three of the more popular spots of the trail, McAfee Knob, the Dragon's Tooth, and Tinker Cliffs. All were kinda amazing.[gallery link="file" columns="4" orderby="post_date"]