Wednesday, 4 July
|Destination: Boots Off Hostel – Shook Branch Road||Today’s Miles: 14.8|
|Start Location: Moreland Gap Shelter||Trip Miles: 429.2|
I wanted to get an early start since today was going to be the warmest day so far. I was out about 6:45. Only Wet Dog was up. The morning was already warm.
About ten, I got to Laurel Fork stream. I had a little trouble following the trail across the road and parking lot and asked a guy who was camping nearby with his family for directions. He offered me a cold Dr. Pepper and gave me some cookies. His family was cooking breakfast and the offered me an omelet. I did not want to take advantage of his hospitality so I passed.
After about two miles the trail came to Laurel Falls, the nicest falls so far. I did not see where the trail went. Since there was a “High Water Bypass”, I thought I might have to cross the stream. I asked several folks if they knew where it went with no luck. One of the couples I had spoken to was heading back and saw the turn. He hollered to me and motioned the correct direction. That got me back on track. The trail followed the stream for a while with many nice campsites and places that tempted me to take dip. It was getting warm.
I started a 1,700 foot climb and descent around noon. Temperatures were high, probably mid eighties. I took it slow and drank lots of water.
About 2:30, I got to Boots Off Hostel. They told me they had a shrimp, sausage and corn boil for lunch and there was plenty left, before I even checked in. I checked in and before my shower had some delicious lunch. While I was eating, they put two pork tenderloins on the grill for dinner. All the hikers were invited to their Independence Day celebration for no additional cost. Dinner was bratwurst, pork tenderloin, deviled eggs, potato salad and beans, all you could eat. Hiker heaven! Dessert was watermelon, chocolate chip cookies and strawberry shortcake. Much better than ramen and tuna.
It is a little noisy with fireworks but the bunk house is air conditioned and the accommodations are nice so I think it is worth it. Last night in a hostel going out with a bang.