Mile 532.2. Elevation 3,235 feet.
I hiked 9.8 miles today. I got an early start to this shelter but took my time. My left foot was causing me problems. That's the same foot on which I sprained my ankle in April as I approached the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. It was not the ankle tendons causing problems this time. It seemed to be the ligaments on top of my foot. I was walking with a limp.
A goal I set at the beginning of the hike was to get close to Roanoke, VA so I could catch a plane home from there. Unfortunately, it turned out to be an unrealistic goal, so I had been looking for an opportunity over the last couple of days. I have to be home by the end of the month. The opportunity came today at the Partnership Shelter, which is just outside Marion, VA.
When I reached the shelter, I was talking to some SOBO thru-hikers. They're the ones who pointed out that my face looks like I had a run-in with a bear (see previous post). They told me I could get a bus in Marion, and so I started my way home.
I didn't think I should post a picture, but then I got together with some guys at the Partnership Shelter and we had a good laugh about my face. So in that vein, laugh! Remember. I'm fine - I think.
The forestry service has a visitor center near the shelter and they put me in touch with Jim Sparks. Jim is a retired coal mine electrician whose son thru-hiked the AT in 2012. Jim likes to help hikers, so he drove me to a motel for the night and then picked me up in the morning to take me to the bus station. Since I had extra time in the morning, he took me to a state park on a lake to show me around. It was beautiful. If you like to fish, this is the place. The lake is stocked with trout, bass, catfish, muskie and pike - WOW! They also rent cabins, and there are other recreational facilities within the park including a trail around the lake, which is about seven miles long.
Jim, eventually dropped me off at the Greyhound Bus stop, and I waited for the bus, which took me to Bristol, TN and then a cab down to a hotel by the Tri-cities Airport in Kingsport, TN. That is where I am tonight, 10/20/2016.
I hate to leave the AT a week short of my target length of time, but this is probably my best opportunity to get home. Plus, considering the face dive into the rock and the problem with my foot, it's probably the best time to stop.
My plane flies out Friday morning and I should be home just after noon.