I decided to get a little more ambitious with the second Triangle Bike Camping trip with an overnight ride in the Virginia mountains. The Virginia Creeper Trail is a ~35 mile gravel trail with approximately 2,000 feet of elevation from the bottom to the top. I was able to find a lovely camp host on Hipcamp on a mostly flower farm in Abingdon, VA. The drive up was uneventful enough, lasting about four hours.
Our camp host, Daisy, gave us a tour after we got settled in, plucking off plants for us to sample and insisting we take some lettuce for our dinner. The rest of the night was spent chatting around the campfire, eating our dinner, and (at least for me) imbibing in a small box of wine. Shoutout to Courtney for once again making some delicious chili.
Once the sun came up and the birds started chirping, I got out of bed to make coffee and start packing things up. But not before enjoying a quiet moment relaxing in the hammock.
Once we got everything on our bikes, we started our journey up the mountain. There were some slow downs and stops for gates, as the trail crosses private property, but they weren't too much of a hassle. The ride itself wasn't terribly difficult... for the first 25 miles, anyway.
The last five miles or so were pretty rough. I had forgotten my knee brace back at the first camp, and it was acting up the worst that last leg of the journey. Oh, and all the cyclists who were coming down the mountain from Whitetop to Damascus were pretty... not used to sharing the trail. A little kid nearly ran straight into me, and we watched another woman almost fall off the side of the trail in a spot where it would have been a steep drop. She did not seem concerned.
We made it to our second camp, I immediately took a shower, then we walked up to the campsite... which had no suitable trees for hanging a hammock. Thankfully, another camper was gracious enough to let me bunk up with him in his spacious tent. (Note to self: call ahead and make sure there are trees before booking a spot.)
Once we had things set up, we headed down to the camp shop for a few beers and our firewood before returning to our site for dinner. I wouldn't say sleeping on the ground is great, but I did manage to sleep enough that I woke up feeling like I could push out the ~30 miles downhill on Sunday.
The last couple miles of our ride back were at a slight incline, making my knee act up again, but it wasn't nearly as bad as Saturday going up. I made sure to snap a few photos of the farm before we left, and then we headed back to Raleigh (with a quick pit-stop at Taco Bell, of course).