Archive for May, 2011

Days 64 & 65: Pearisburg

64: Wood’s Hole hostel to Pearisburg, VA. 10 miles.

65: Zero in Pearisburg.

After a pretty gentle 7.5 miles, we started the steep descent into Pearisburg. There were some great views from the top.

Looking down on Pearisburg’s valley.

A nice couple gave us a ride up the hill to the motel here. We didn’t even ask, they just offered as they were getting in their car by the thrift shop near the trail. Southern hospitality wins again. Good thing for us too, we knew the motel (and restaurants, supermarket, etc) were a mile off the trail, no big deal, but the hill was a surprise. The town maps in the guide don’t show elevations, just distances!

Tomorrow will be a not quite as steep but still big ascent out (after the downhill road walk back to the trail). We’re only planning 8 miles. There wasn’t a lot of choice if we want to camp near water. The next water after 8 miles is 17 miles out, and last time we planned a day like that it did not work out well. So 8 miles it is.

Today I picked up my warm weather sleeping bag from the PO here in Pearisburg. I’ll send my cold weather bag home in the morning. Probably just in time for another cold front! But I’ll still have my puffy jacket just in case. I’ll be fine, but there might be a few cold nights. I think the two pound weight savings is worth it. Ask me again in a week if I still think so!

My pack feels lighter than it ever has even though I’ve got what seems like a LOT of food for this next leg. I’ve been doing 5-6 day legs all along, and so have the rest of my gang, so this leg isn’t all that different for us, but it is for some people. There really isn’t any good resupply option for the next 6 days. If you’re used to hitting all the minor resupply points in between the big ones, this would be a tough leg. I think from my pre-trip research that this is the second longest stretch on the whole trail without “civilization”, the longest being the “100-mile wilderness” right at the end in Maine. Even here though, there are still road crossings every day, we’re never really all that far from help should an emergency arise, we’re just far from convenient services.

Location:N Main St,Pearisburg,United States

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011 Uncategorized 1 Comment

Day 63: The Lost Post

Wapiti Shelter to Woods Hole hostel. 7 miles.

I wrote a post for this day, but I lost it somehow. So this is the filler for that lost post. Just imagine there was something terribly witty and clever here.

Woods Hole hostel was really nice, but it’s not close to anything at all, so we all decided to just spend the night then hike on to Pearisburg.

The important thing is I had a Smoothie there.

And a nice fluffy robe to wear while laundry got done.

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011 Uncategorized 1 Comment

Day 62: Foodbridges

Jenny Knob shelter to Wapiti Shelter. 14.2 miles.

Today went as planned, no repeat of yesterday. We stopped for a nice lunch at Trent’s Grocery, and picked up sandwiches for dinner and some extra snacks. Little Debby fruit pies are really good, in case you were wondering. Flute Walker started that trend.

The guide listed one section near the end of today as having several “foodbridges”, a typo obviously. But I joked about wanting to taste one earlier. Then I almost slipped and fell on one that was sloped and extra slippery. I told Shadow and Country Mouse, “You know what? That was a foodbridge. And I almost ate it.”

It’s raining again tonight, but it didn’t start until well after our tents were set up and we were sitting by the shelter eating and talking, so I didn’t really get wet. More good timing!

Tomorrow is a short day to Wood’s Hole hostel. There’s still some discussion about what to do from there. We think there’s one really nice Inn in Pearisburg for the next day, but it’s far from the trail. All the ones closer to the trail are probably crappy. We’ll sit down and figure it out from the hostel tomorrow when we have power and better Internet (I THINK I can get this posted from here but it’s iffy).

Even out here in the woods I did get enough signal to see pictures of my brand new niece. Even ten years ago that wouldn’t have happened. It still amazes me when I stop to think about it.

Monday, May 16th, 2011 Uncategorized 2 Comments

The Numbers

There is a Day 62 post written, but I can’t post it yet due to boring technical reasons. It’ll get posted tomorrow I think. In the meantime, here’s something I was about to post as a reply on Star Trekking. It’s worth a whole post.

The gang and I have been running the numbers lately, and to finish by mid-September, hiking 6 days a week rather than 7, we need to hike about 15 miles a day. Most days that’s pretty reasonable now, but weather and terrain can have a big impact, and the miles do start to wear you down even on the “easy” days. We’re going to take a zero in Pearisburg even though we haven’t quite “earned” it.

I’m not really that worried about it, we’re going a lot faster than we were a month ago, and our speed will probably keep increasing. It’s just that right now the pace we HAVE to keep is just about the same as the fastest pace we’re able to keep. But a month ago we weren’t even keeping the pace we needed to, so that’s still a big improvement! I think that a month from now we’ll be regularly exceeding what we need to do. Which doesn’t really mean we’ll finish sooner, just that we’ll get extra rest days.

Location:Riverbend Dr,Pearisburg,United States

Sunday, May 15th, 2011 Uncategorized 3 Comments

Day 61: Star Trekking

Laurel Creek to Jenny’s Knob shelter, 19.2 miles!

That’s a new record distance, but it wasn’t supposed to be. The plan was to stop at a stream 16.4 miles from our start this morning, the only listed water source anywhere near our 15-mile-per-day goal, and the prior water source was far far back. Unfortunately that stream was dry, so we really had no choice but to press on to the shelter at 19.2 miles, as it was the next available source.

We were racing a storm the last few miles in too, hearing thunder getting closer and closer and watching the skies getting darker and darker. As we got to the side trail to the shelter, another couple hiking south, Chipmunk and Wildcat, showed up and asked where the shelter was. We pointed at the sign and all had a laugh. We all raced into the shelter, and literally 30 seconds after we got inside, the rain came in a huge downpour! Best timing ever. As I write this an hour and a half later, the rain has stopped. But I’ll spend the night in the shelter anyway.

Along the way, I learned a new term. Star Trekking: To boldly go where no California has gone before. In other words set a new record. 19.2 miles definitely qualifies. And it makes tomorrow or the day after that much shorter. Trent’s Grocery for lunch tomorrow, then Wood’s Hole hostel to stay on Sunday. Somewhere in there, we’re doing 2.8 miles less than we planned.

Location:New Castle,United States

Friday, May 13th, 2011 Uncategorized 2 Comments

Days 59 & 60

59: Crawfish Trail (I think I wrote Gap in the last post, that was wrong!) to a pond just short of Chestnut Knob. 14.6 miles

60: Pond to Laurel Creek, 16.4 miles.

Two really big days. Yesterday had a huge climb at the end. Today had lots of ups and downs and rocks, and at 16.4 miles is one of my longest days. Tomorrow probably will be too, options for places to stop with water are very limited. I proposed an alternate plan, there’s the town of Bland 2.5 miles off the trail. We could do a nearo and stay there tomorrow night. That probably won’t happen unless it’s even hotter (another reason these days have been so tough, unseasonably warm weather) or raining or something.

After tomorrow though things look nicer. There’s a grocery/deli near the trail where we can get lunch day after tomorrow. Then the day after that what looks like a nice hostel (the guide lists smoothies among its virtues. I am obsessed with getting a smoothie there). Then Pearisburg the day after that, where we’ll probably all be ready for a zero. If the motels are nicer than the Relax Inn anyway. I’d probably be ready for one even if they’re not, but not everyone’s on board with that. I think the Dairy Queen and the AYCE Chinese will bring them around regardless.

Friday, May 13th, 2011 Uncategorized No Comments

Day 58: 25%

Rural Retreat to Crawfish Flats. 7 miles.

We left around 11AM, and got here around 3PM. A nice easy day out of town. Somewhere a mile or two back, we passed the one quarter mark, 25% of the trail hiked. Halfway to halfway!

I’m glad everyone’s on the short miles out of town plan, but tomorrow and the next few days will all be full days I hope, 15 miles or more.

It started raining about an hour after we got here. I’d just finished eating my dinner, no cook variety, really what I think of as lunch when I’m planning meals, but I switch ’em often. I got my food bag hung and was climbing in my tent just as the real downpour started. That only lasted a few minutes, but it’s still raining softly now, 20 minutes later. Although it’s only 4:30, I may already be stuck in my tent for the night! The good news is this isn’t a major storm system, just scattered showers predicted for the next few days. Probably what I can expect for most of the summer, really. It’s nice and warm.

Green Stone, Thimbleberry, and Flame showed up at the motel this morning, needing a resupply, so I just gave them my whole extra box of food thanks to yesterday’s events. Unbeknownst to me, they made Country Mouse take some money to give to me later when I couldn’t refuse to take it. Nice of them for sure, but totally unnecessary! I just hope they like the food. Everyone has their own favorites out here, I think it would be really weird packing up someone else’s supply drop and heading out. But fun too.

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011 Uncategorized 2 Comments

Day 57: Double Trouble

USFS 86 campsite to Rural Retreat’s Relax Inn. An easy 7 miles.

Shadow, Country Mouse and Flute Walker showed up today too, hopefully we can all stick together for a while this time for real.

I had sent myself a resupply box to the motel from Damascus, 6 days ago. At the PO in Damascus, they told me it would take a day to get here. Well, it wasn’t here. So after the two supposedly hiker friendly convenience stores turned out to be pretty much cleaned out of hiker supplies due to a large mass of hikers hiking south for trail days, I joined the rest of the gang for a shuttle to Marion for the closest real supermarket. I got some good new things, like individual powdered Gatorade packets, and gravy packets to go with my staple mashed potatoes (thanks to Flute Walker for that idea. Or curses to her if it turns out gross!)

Then when we got back to the motel, my box was here. Argh. So now I have like 15 days of food for a 5-6 day section. I’d put extra in the box just because I could, whatever I didn’t take would’ve gone in the hiker box at the motel for someone else to take.

I guess that’s still my plan. Trying to get it shipped forward again from this dinky place is more trouble than it’s worth. I’ll just leave this motel with the best stocked hiker box ever.

Anyway, at least I’m not short on food or trying to make do on slim pickings from the convenience stores. Either would be worse. Just annoyed that my time saving drop box didn’t save any time at all. Which is why I said I wasn’t doing drop boxes in the first place. I should listen to myself.

There’s computer stuff broken at home too. Lnorigb and I had a good long video chat about it with her being my eyes and hands, but one Mac Mini in the house needs a lot more attention than I can give it from here. I’ll probably take some time off at the end of Virginia and come home to do that and other things. If I’m still hiking with “the gang”, that’ll work out pretty well, they’ve got a week long family reunion to go to around the same time, and it’s also about the half way point of the trip.

Location:County Road 683,Atkins,United States

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011 Uncategorized 3 Comments

Day 56: Pizza on the Trail

Campsite 4 miles past Trimpi to USFS 86. 11 miles.

I’m currently sitting at the Mt Rogers visitors’ center, which sits right on the trail, waiting for a pizza to be delivered. There’s a shelter right here too, and it’s a trail tradition of sorts to get a pizza at that shelter. I’ll be hiking on more today after I eat my pizza, not staying at the shelter, but it’s a nice break and a good lunch.

It got here!

There’s a shower at the shelter too, but I don’t know how I’d get dry! My little pack towel wouldn’t really cut it. The sun isn’t even reliable today.

I’ll have a real motel room tomorrow anyway. It’s only 7 miles from where I’m camped to Rural Retreat, VA, where I already reserved a room in the motel right by the trail. There’s not much in Rural Retreat otherwise though, just the motel, a couple of convenience stores and one and a half restaurants (one of them is inside the gas station). It’s more an interstate offramp (I-81 crosses the AT right there) than a real place. But there is Atkins about 4 miles down the road. Atkins has a motel, one convenience store, three restaurants, a laundromat, and a post office. It’s a veritable metropolis!

The guide says my motel has laundry though, I shouldn’t have to go into the big city to get stuff clean.

Monday, May 9th, 2011 Uncategorized 4 Comments

Day 55: 18

Old Orchard shelter to a campsite 4 miles past Trimpi shelter. 18 miles, a new record!

My new pack finally felt “right” today, which I’m sure helped with this 18 miles. It had been a few days of constant fiddling with all the adjustments. There’s always adjustments going on throughout the day even once you’re used to a pack, to shift weight away from wherever it starts bothering you, but until today it was excessive with this one. It helps that it’s a few pounds lighter on food too of course.

I reached Trimpi shelter around 4:30, had a quick dinner, and decided I still felt up for another four for a record day. It may rain tonight, but I’ll stay dry in my tent, and as long as it’s not still raining in the morning it really doesn’t make much difference if I’m next to a shelter or not. It is supposed to be nice tomorrow according to the most reliable source available: other hikers. I don’t have any cell signal here nor back at the shelter so I can’t check myself. By the time you read this it’ll already have rained on me or not.

Sunday, May 8th, 2011 Uncategorized 1 Comment