Day One Hundred Twenty-three, Date Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Time in Saddle: 6:10
Distance for the Day: 52.12 miles From BRP SC#7 To BRP SC#8-Roanoke
Accumulated Trip Distance: 5899.89 miles
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 3188’/1541’, Highest: 3353’ Accumulated: 4012’
Speeds: Avg: 8.4 mph, Max: 41.3 mph
Weather: 60° brief morning shower, then partly cloudy the rest of the day
This morning, I got a rather rude awakening: rain. I was up and putting stuff away quick like a bunny at 5:30am, but fortunately, it was only a very short, light shower, and it stayed dry thereafter. Otherwise, it was windy and cool, which was okay with me. It was a beautiful sunrise, and I spent a little while taking pictures and just appreciating the quite and the colors. There weren’t any fireflies at this site – perhaps because it was too high an altitude, too cool, and/or too windy. I had a bit of breakfast (trailmix and grapefruit juice), put my jacket and rain jacket on, knowing I’d be taking them off again, shortly, once I warmed up, and took off at 6:36am. I stopped almost immediately at 6:50am to take a few pictures of the scenic Rakes Millpond, and continued on. At 11:43am I met another cyclist whose bike had two motors on it: one gas-powered, and the other, electric, which enabled him to do short bits of the BRP (or wherever) quicker and easier. It was a neat setup, and I could fully understand why he’d want them, especially for the BRP, which I’ve come to believe stands not just for “Blue Ridge Parkway,” but also for “Bicycle Rider Pain.” I left the BRP at about 2:30pm to go into Roanoke to stock up on more Gatorade and trailmix at the closest store I could find, which happened to be a Wal-Mart ($7). I also went to the closest fast food restaurant, which happened to be a Taco Bell ($5), which also happened to have wi-fi. I only wanted to visit the closest resources, because the road from the BRP to Roanoke was pretty steeply downhill, and going further into Roanoke would mean a longer, tougher ride to get back to the BRP, which wasn’t happening. I finished doing email, wrote more blog material, and posted another shorty note for the blog site. I ran out of time, and left Taco Bell at 7:30pm to return to the BRP and look for the evening’s stealth campsite. I went a few more miles further north, still close to Roanoke (it’s a pretty big town), and it was just starting to get close to sunset, when I found a mostly suitable stealth camp location down in some trees off of the Gum Spring Overlook. There was a short, steep dirt entry path to a walking trail that paralleled the road just inside the forest (N37 13.167’ W79 56.843’). This location was very interesting because there were teenagers in cars parked at the overlook, so I waited for them to leave, reading my book, and watching *tons* of fireflies. They were amazing, hanging close to a bank of low groundcover plants on the opposite side of the street, up and down as far as could be seen. They were flashing on and off rapidly, reminding me of cameras flashing as you sometimes see in a packed coliseum at some big event. Fantastic! When it got dark, the kids were still there, so I decided to ignore ‘em, and led my trike down to the hidden trail. I had already scoped out two trees to hang my hammock, so I was able to do it in the almost complete dark. Meanwhile, the kids finally left, and I got into bed around 10pm. It was very windy, and I was wondering if this was a gust front, and if so, was it going to rain any minute. I got up and pulled out my tarp so it would be within easy reach if I needed it. Then, at about 10:30pm, the kids came back and started lighting off fireworks. I never mind fireworks, and enjoyed a free show, seen through the canopy of tall trees all around me. It wasn’t anything fancy – mostly just bottle rockets, but there was one good one, similar to those seen at pro fireworks shows, but smaller – an emerald green burst. Cool! The kids left, again, shortly after their impromptu show. The wind by this time was howling, tossing the tops of the trees and making an awful racket. I put in my earplugs, and was able to get to sleep by about 11pm, anyways.