Sunday, July 24, 2011

Avon & Rodanthe

MST - Day 60 – 4-23-11 – Cape Hatteras Motel to ORV 27 – 14.3 Miles

I felt a little more tired today when I got up, lots to do, including packing up to leave our little cozy spot and setting up our shuttle.  Our first four miles of the day were on the beach.  I was a little apprehensive because of how it ended yesterday, soft sand and swearing to myself, but walking was tolerable.  Danny and I agreed early on in our Outer Banks hiking that if the sand was difficult then the road was an acceptable alternative.  I was glad to get off after four miles, though, and change the scenery.

No vehicles sign + tire tracks = irony

In the town of Avon we stopped at a gas station for a break and it began to rain lightly; however, in the time it took us to don rain gear the rain passed over and the sun came out.  We got wet by putting our packs back down on the ground to put the rain gear away.  The homes in Avon were upscale and very colorful, a favorite vacation destination.  Highway 12 took us past restaurants and supermarkets.

Outside Uglie Mugs Coffee Shop we asked a man to take a photo.  He complied and then offered to buy us a cup of coffee.  We had a very nice visit with him and his wife, explaining the MST and chatting about the Outer Banks – a highlight of the day.

But of course we had miles to go before…well, you know.  We walked on out of Avon and back onto the beach at ORV #34.
The beach walk was not so nice this time, alternating erratically between hard-packed and soft sand, flat terrain and steep slopes.  We passed a few fishing parties.  One fellow cheered, “Go Hokies!” when he saw my hat.  (Virginia Tech attire is a great attention-getter – I always wear Hokie shirts in airports and make new friends.)  We took a nice break on a big log, the only time we’ve actually sat and chilled on the beach during this entire trek.
The outgoing tide leaves patterns on the sand
Finally at ORV #30 we decided to call it quits and head for the road.  Our last 2.4 miles was on nice, hard pavement.  I was very glad to see my car.   Again we enacted the arduous process of retrieving our first car and driving on to our next motel in Rodanthe, a town we had eagerly anticipated that turned out not to be as upscale as Avon.  There were attractive rental houses but few other facilities, no good grocery store, etc.  Our efficiency was one room (we were spoiled at the last place) but I grew to appreciate the quiet and the wireless internet.  The owners were very friendly and even helped us with our shuttle on our second day.  All in all, I give the Sea Sound Motel a thumbs-up.

An upcoming challenge was hiking through Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, a long stretch with few access points.  Danny and I drove along Highway 12 trying to get a  feel for this section.  How difficult would it be to get off the beach if there is lightning?  Are there any landmarks to see?  How will we know our progress?  Scot's book covers this 12-mile section in about 6 lines, meaning "there ain't much to tell ya."
At one parking area along the drive we met two fish and wildlife refuge officers and we asked their opinion about another challenge we were concerned about:  walking across the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge at the northern end of Pea Island.  The bridge is nearly 3 miles long, two lanes, no walking or biking lanes, and windy all the time.  Other MST hikers have told us how treacherous this bridge feels.  The officers advised us not to walk across (one said he was a cyclist and he would not bike across it).  Good enough for me – we hereby declare ourselves too sane to walk across that bridge.
Over dinner Danny talked about an upcoming first-time camping trip with her granddaughter and asked me how to make ‘smores, something she had never done that I’ve done dozens of times with my kids and with Girl Scouts.  What an interesting conversation, trying to describe that process step by step.  First you take a graham cracker…

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