Saturday, October 26, 2013

Day 115, 10-11

--> TN 91, 11.3 miles

We killed the other mouse, but there was a third one we didn't get. All of our food stayed uneaten, however. Pivot Dude and I packed up and said bye to Biner, then headed out. We made good time to the Double Springs Shelter, where we had lunch. We walked through a field that included ~1 mile of handicap-accessible trail. We got to TN 91, and on the other side of the read was a sign saying the area was closed to camping because of bears. We talked, and decided that this would be a good rule not to break. We called Kincora to try and get picked up, but they couldn't. Using his charm, Pivot Dude yogied a ride from the first car that went by. She was willing to take us all the way to the hostel, ~40 minutes. When we got to Kincora we found that the legendary Bob Peoples was not in town. Seiko, the caretaker, gave us a ride into town to buy some food. The ride down was scary, the Seiko roller coaster. Lots of tight switchbacks taken at high speed in a Jeep. Back up the mountain I made myself some tacos for dinner, then lounged around reading all evening.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Day 114, 10-10

--> Abingdon Gap Shelter, 10.4 miles

It was a bit chilly this morning when I woke up. Smiles got up early and got out. Pivot Dude and I went to Dairy King for breakfast. It was a good little diner. We then sat around waiting for the library to open at 11. We went there to go online, then wet to Hey Joe for some burritos. Thus fed we headed uphill. A few miles in we crossed into Tennessee. Goodbye Virginia, I'll miss you. It was a nice trail to the shelter. Biner is here and we spent the evening talking about all sorts of things. There are two mice here, and we've killed one and we're sitting up waiting for the other one to come back so we can get it. We are determined to have a mouse-free night.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Day 113, 10-9

--> The Place, Damascus, VA,  15.6 miles

It was another chilly morning. Pivot Dude and I got out and moving to warm up. We got to Damascus in 4.5 hours, and only one break. It was drawing us in like a magnet. We stopped at Subway for lunch, then talked to Crazy Larry for a minute. We then got to The Place, a hostel run by the Methodist Church. We resupplied at the Dollar General, then took showers and went to happy hour at the Blue Blaze Cafe. Killer and Smiles got there a bit later. Worldwide and Yogi (of the PCT guidebook) were there and I talked about hiking with them. Pivot Dude and I ordered burgers for dinner, but they made a mistake putting in the order and we each got 2 burgers. We left at 8 to go get some laundry done, then played a few rounds of Rummikube. I won two out of three. Its now quite late, and time for bed.

Day 112, 10-8

--> Lost Mountain Shelter, 17.3 miles

It was COLD this morning when I woke up. I stayed in the bag as long as possible, but eventually I had to get out. I warmed up once I started moving. Pivot Dude caught up to me after about 30 minutes and we hiked the rest of the day together. The Grayson Highlands were beautiful. Absolutely gorgeous. Probably the prettiest part of the trail so far. I didn't see any ponies, but it was still great. As we were walking we could see Mt. Rogers, and decided not to go up because there would've been no view. We ate lunch on Whitetop Mountain, which had another large open area. From Buzzard Rock we could see into NC/TN and VA. The scenery was different enough it was easy to tell which was which. After taking a bunch of pictures we reluctantly headed back into the trees. From there it was as easy downhill to the shelter. We tried to get a fire going, but wet rhododendron does not burn well. Tomorrow we're heading to Damascus for showers, laundry, and some tasty food. Tonight looks like it will be chilly, but we're 1000 feet lower so it might not be as bad.
P.S.: Smiles and Killer showed up around dark, and most of The Lorax is written on the walls of the privy.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Day 111, 10-7

--> Wise Shelter, 10.9 miles

It was quite windy last night as I was going to bed, then it started to rain around 1:30. As I was eating breakfast the rain started to taper off, so I waited for it to stop before leaving. It was a quick hike to the next shelter, then up. When I got to the Scales, it as still cloudy. The Scales was the place where the ranchers and farmers would gather and weigh their cattle before bringing them down the hill to the market. It was like walking out west, with the grasses and not very many trees. There were some cattle sitting near the trail, including a few bulls. Right when I got to the shelter the sun came out. I had a pleasant but cool afternoon here. Two section hikers, Pivot Dude, and another section hiker also showed up. I haven't been with this many people in a shelter for a long time. Everyone is nice enough. Tomorrow is supposed to be good weather, and that's where the ponies are. There should be some views, and I'll probably go up to Mt. Rogers, the high point of Virginia. Damascus the day after.

Day 110, 10-6

--> Hurricane Mountain Shelter, 19.7 miles

Trashcan got up and left around 3:30 this morning. I got up at the more reasonable hour of 6:45. Despite a full pack today as not a hard day. As I was eating lunch Pivot Dude caught up and we walked down to the road together. He's going to a hostel tonight, and we'll meet up at the Wise Shelter tomorrow. Tomorrow I enter the Grayson Highlands, which has wild ponies. I bought an extra apple for them. Hopefully the rain will hold off so there will be some good views. It will be a short day. Only 48 miles left in Virginia.

Day 109, 10-5

--> Partnership Shelter, 7.1 miles

Today was a short and easy hike. There was a climb in the morning, then a few smaller peaks. I got to the road, and the visitors center was closed because of the government shutdown. I eventually got a hitch into town, and went to the library. The computers there forced you to use an old version of Internet Explorer, and wouldn't let me log onto Blogger. I wouldn't recommend the library to anyone. I went to a Japanese place for lunch, which was very mediocre. I walked to the grocery store and resupplied. I sat outside and charged stuff while eating some ice cream then calling home. As I was walking back to the road to hitch back a truck pulled over and offered me a ride. I then spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing here. I got pizza for dinner. Pivot Dude caught up, and it was fun to catch up with him. Another SOBO, Trashcan, also got here. He has been doing some big days, he started July 31.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Hot Springs, NC

I'm at the library in Hot Springs. Fewer than 300 miles left. Over 1900 miles walked. That's a long way to walk.

Some more thoughts:
-You might be a thru-hiker if you are looking forward to clean socks more than a shower.
-You can tell what kind of privy it is from a distance away, through the woods.
-You have a sixth sense as to where the privy is, if there's no sign.
-Walking around town in nothing but rain pants and a rain coat seems normal.
-A pint of Ben & Jerry's is a normal serving of ice cream.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Day 108, 10-4

--> Chatfield Shelter, 18.4 miles

Today was warm, warmer than it should be in October. At the first read crossing this morning there was some trail magic. The first since Vermont. I walked through a lot of fields today, which was a nice change from the forest but not so nice in the sun. I passed the 75% mark, then had lunch at what looked like an old shelter. There was a picnic table, privy, and a set of old steps. I got to I-81 and crossed it for the fourth and final time. As I was crossing the road on the other side a guy in a pickup asked if I saw the coolers a few miles back. It turns out he was the person who put them there. I thanked him, finished crossing the road, then went to the gas station to get a soda and snack. I sat there for a while then headed out. I was going to stop at the Settlers Museum, but it was closed, and the note said something about government funding. Does this mean the government has actually shut down? This shelter is right by a stream, and I was able to soak my feet for a while. Its been a long time since I've been able to do that. Tomorrow is a short day to the Partnership Shelter and Marion, for resupply and takeout pizza.

Day 107, 10-3

--> Knot Maul Branch Shelter, 19.1 miles

I didn't see any bears last night despite all the sign warning of bear activity. This morning started with a 1600' climb up to a view-less ridge. I walked along to Chestnut Knob, which had a few views and a shelter on top. The shelters on top of mountains always seem to be nice. There was an open field on the ridge on the way down. It was quite nice. There were then a few more smaller mountains to go over before the shelter here. The water wasn't too far away which was nice. Tomorrow doesn't look like it will be too bad, and my pack will be lighter with less food, so it should be good. I'll also go by the 75% mark.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Day 106, 10-2

--> Jenkins Shelter, 23.8 miles

Today was long but not hard. It was relatively warm when I woke up, which made packing a bit more pleasant. This morning was on a bumpy ridge. I ran into Dad (the section hiker) partway through. I met him at the Peru Peak Shelter in Vermont. He was doing a section from TN to Pearisburg. I didn't expect to see him ever again and it was a nice surprise. At the bottom of the hill someone had left some bottles of water, where I filled up and had lunch. I then Crossed I-77 on a road walk. Haven't had one of those in a while. The afternoon was on another ridge, which had a few views.

There are a number of signs up warning of bear encounters near this shelter. Hopefully they'll stay away this evening, along with the mice and other annoying animals. Also, the end of Virginia is in sight, only another 100 miles. And less than 600 miles to Springer!

Day 105, 10-1

--> Jenny Knob Shelter, 21.4 miles

Today was a good day. I felt a lot better this morning than the day before. There was a tasty creme brulee French Toast dish for breakfast. I packed up and paid, then walked back to the trail. There was a pleasant ridge walk this morning with some great views. I then descended to the valley where there were some flat miles. I took a side trail to Dismal Falls, which were very underwhelming. I crossed a road, went up, over, and down a ridge then got to the shelter. I was able to find some water closer than I thought it would be. The NOBOs I passed said it was far away. It doesn't look like there is a lot of water tomorrow, hopefully I can get by with 2 liters at a time. There won't be a lot of vertical, so I'm hopeful.

Day 104, 9-30

@ Woods Hole Hostel, 0 miles

Its always nice to sleep on a real mattress. I got up at 7:15, and went in at 8 for breakfast. It was just as good as dinner last night, and their zucchini bread was awesome. I helped with the dishes afterwards, then sat around on the porch reading and relaxing. After a while I went down to help move some cows from one pasture to another. We then went to take care of some goats, then had lunch. After lunch I helped repair an electric fence. I knew my degree would come in use somewhere. There was then some downtime before dinner, then a great Mexican lasagna. Now its dark and time for bed. I feel much more rested, physically and mentally, and ready to hit the trail again tomorrow.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Day 103, 9-29

--> Sugar Run Gap, 9.7 miles

My campsite wasn't as flat as it looked, but I had a good nights sleep anyway. After packing up I climbed up to Angel's Landing and enjoyed the view. The trail then goes along the ridge, and through tunnels of rhododendron. It would be beautiful to see when they're in bloom. It took me a long time to do the miles today, I was pretty tired. Eventually I got to the read and walked down to Woods Hole. This is a nice place. The bunkhouse looks like it was a barn at one point, and it has outdoor showers and an outhouse. It was nice to sit around for a few hours. I got dinner here, and it was delicious Mexican, family style. There are three cats, and one seems to enjoy sitting in my lap. Very relaxing.

Day 102, 9-28

--> Stealth Campsite, 20 miles

I woke up and got going this morning. I climbed up to the ridge and walked along the border for most oft he morning. The section on the ridge really needed some maintenance, mostly with a weed-whacker. I stopped at the Rice Field shelter for lunch. There is a nice view from the field in front of it. I then dropped down to the New River. One spot was so badly marked I couldn't find the trail for at least 30 minutes. The Outdoor Club of Virginia Tech really needs to come out more. I finally made it to Pearisburg where I had an early dinner at a mexican restaurant, did a resupply, and had a pint of Ben & Jerry's. I got back ot the trail and walked until I found a campsite, then stopped and set up. Tomorrow I'm going to the Woods Hole Hostel, and I'll very likely take a zero there.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Day 101, 9-27

--> Pine Swamp Branch Shelter, 18.5 miles

Last night there was some unearthly howling for a while. It sounded like a high-pitched dog. The hike today was uneventful. I didn't see anyone else on the trail, which surprised me since it is Friday. Looks like I'll get he shelter to myself again. Tomorrow I'll walk along the VA/WV border for a while, then drop into Pearisburg to resupply. Hopefully I'll find somewhere near town to stay, because I don't want to walk all the way to the next shelter after town. That would be a 30 miler.

Day 100, 9-26

--> Laurel Creek Shelter, 21.2 miles

One hundred days. Wow. Time flies when you're having fun. We woke up at 6:15 then got breakfast. Shortly after we headed back to the read crossing where I finished yesterday, and said goodbye. I started the day with a long climb. By the time I got down the other side of the mountain the fog had burned off. I climbed up the next ridge, and walked along it for a while. At the bottom is the largest Oak on the AT in the South. The one in NY is bigger. I walked through some fields and over a million fence stiles, then made it to the shelter. Just below are large stands of Rhododendron. It would be nice in the spring. Over the past 100 days my average miles per day is 15.2. Tomorrow I'll pass the 70% mark.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Day 99, 9-25

--> VA 620, 13.9 miles

We woke up and got breakfast at the hotel. We drove to the Dragon's Tooth parking area then got shuttled back to the other parking lot. It was nice hiking without a pack. We walked along a ridge, then through some fields, which was a new experience for my parents. We made it up to the Dragons Tooth around lunchtime. After lunch my parents went straight down to the car and I continued another 5.5 miles to the road where they picked me up. It sprinkled a little but I didn't get too wet. Back at the hotel I took a shower. We went out for dinner then watched TV the rest of the evening. Tomorrow will be a slightly earlier start so they can get back to the airport in time.

Day 98, 9-24

--> VA 311, 10.4 miles

 I woke up and killed as much time as I could bear to. I didn't leave until around 8. I quickly got up to Tinker Cliffs and hung out there for a while. When I got cold I moved on. I stopped at a viewpoint on the ridge and was able to look back at what I walked yesterday. At the Campbell shelter I found a new log book, and had the privilege of writing the first entry. A highlight of the day. I got to McAfee Knob and waited for my parents in a swarm of gnats. We eventually found each other, and took a lot of pictures. It was a quick walk down to the car, then into Roanoke for the Hotel and dinner. We resupplied afterwards then set up a shuttle for tomorrow. We're going to hike up to the Devil's Seat and the Dragons Tooth. With names like those they must be good.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Day 97, 9-23

--> Lamberts Meadow Shelter, 14.4 miles

For whatever reason, today I was dragging. It was another cool morning and I took a while to warm up since the trail was downhill the first three miles. At the bottom I crossed I-81 again then went to the outfitter in Daleville. I got more denatured alcohol, and exchanged my worn-out socks for a brand new pair. Darn Tough is great. I then climbed back up onto the ridge for the rest of the day.

At the viewpoint where I had lunch I watched more hawks flying around. A few times they flew pretty close. At a different overlook there was a Black Vulture on the edge. I got some great pictures of it. I also saw a small bear this morning, and another fearless deer.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Day 96, 9-22

--> Fullhardt Knob Shelter, 16.6 miles

We woke up then went down to the diner for breakfast. On the way back to the trail we stopped at an old suspension bridge that was built during the civil war so troops could get across the James River. By the time we got back to the trailhead the fog had burned off. Today was a beautiful day. It was not hazy at any of the BRP overlooks. At one of them there were a bunch of people watching raptors, particularly migrating hawks. At the next overlook I stopped for lunch and watched a hawk soaring around very close to the ground.  I'm hoping to see an osprey before Georgia. After Blackhorse Gap I was back in the trees so I sped up to my normal pace. This shelter is on top of the knob, and it will probably be chilly tonight. Tomorrow I'll go through Daleville and cross I-81 again.

Day 95, 9-21

--> Bearwallow Gap, 10.4 miles

The mice were rather active last night, but they didn't chew through anything of mine. It was overcast as I left and there weren't many views. Up around 2500' I entered the cloud and stayed in it. It is sometimes neat to walk on a ridge like that, but I prefer the views. I got to the road a few minutes before 11 and waited for my aunt and uncle to arrive. Around 11:20 they drove by. It turns out that they were waiting in a parking lot close by that wasn't in my guide. If it hadn't been so foggy we would have been able to see each other. We drove down to Buchannon and got a room at the Wattstull Inn and I took a shower. We drove into Roanoke to a Thai place for lunch, then went to the Taubman Art Museum. They had Yoko Ono's Imagine Peace exhibit, and an excellent one on Civil Rights photography. We went to Indian for dinner then returned to the hotel.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Day 94, 9-20

--> Bryant Ridge Shelter, 24.8 miles

I had breakfast and packed up, then hitched back to the trail. Te guy who gave me a ride was a talker. The hike today was like an inverted "V". The James River is at 860', Apple Orchard Mountain at 4200', and the shelter at 1300'. The climb up was uneventful, but the top was all in the clouds. No views today. The last descent was long because it wasn't steep. I'm not convinced that having switchbacks makes the trail any easier on the knees; mine were still tired when I got here. A section hiker is here and he was interesting to talk to. He was amazed I did 25 miles today, but it doesn't feel like it was that hard. I guess my perspective is a bit warped now that I have trail legs. Tomorrow the trail to the road doesn't look too bad, and hopefully the rain will hold off until the afternoon.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Day 93, 9-19

--> Glasgow, VA

 Last night it didn't get to cold and was pleasant. As I was eating breakfast it started to rain, but stopped a few minutes later. It was overcast all morning. I stopped at a cliff with a view for a break until it started sprinkling. It never really rained. I got to the Johns Hollow Shelter around 10:30, and to the road by 11. It took about 15 minutes to get a hitch into town. Glasgow is a small little town, but pretty nice.

I went to the library and updated the blog and charged my stuff, then resupplied. I spent the afternoon at the hiker shelter in town. I got pizza for dinner. I'm gong to meet my aunt and uncle in 2 days in Buchannon.  I haven't seen them for a while, so it should be fun. Hopefully it doesn't rain too much.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Damascus, VA

I got into Damascus yesterday at lunchtime. Only a few more miles of Virginia left. Tonight I'll be sleeping in Tennessee.