A Shenandoah snow flurry that slipped by the forecasters -- many of them do -- added to the pleasure I get from driving down Interstate 81 with all of the 18-wheelers and half-rational drivers. Given the unexpected precipitation, gusty winds, and forecast 20 °F morning temperature, I stopped off in Raphine to buy a cozy hotel room to keep me warm for the night.
The Devils Backbone Brewery is one of a number of "must" stops for hikers who care more about enjoying the Trail than finishing it, so I drove over to eat dinner there. Bit of a surprise! Instead of the usual brew hall and bar benches I was expecting, there was a large courtyard with a fire pit, filled with patios and tables, and surrounded by restaurant-like facilities -- all empty, possibly because it was Thursday evening and the thermometer had followed the sun going down.
The beer was well made (a dark pilsner, new to me), and the fresh pretzel was crusty and acceptable even if priced at $8, but the chicken bacon avocado salad was -- well -- late, uninspired, and would have tasted better without the rubbery chicken and the stale bacon chunks. Would I have taken the brewery's free shuttle down from the nearest shelter on the AT, considering quality, cost, and the impact on my sleep when I was returned shivering uphill to bundle into my tent until dawn? Pros and cons, I guess. It is good beer.
View from the Blue Ridge Parkway, looking down the valley I plan to descend into on Sunday, finishing this 20 mile nibble off the 1800+ miles yet to come. Those hills are getting pointier as I walk farther away from northern Virginia.