Back to civilization

Because you are in the “Green Tunnel” for miles and miles each day then it’s exciting to have any view happen. As a result I felt compelled to take this picture. Afterwards I felt it was a nice composition with the flowers and trees in the foreground and the valley and rain clouds behind.
Small Slice told me the night before about the Catawba Grocery being only about 0.5 miles off trail which is unique since most stores are miles off trail. In addition I was tapering in preparation to flying home and was only hiking 8.5 miles. So why not stop for some treats!
What treats you ask? Well two 16 oz. Cokes (yup, the biggest ones) and a pint of cherry ice cream at 8 AM. I call it a special trail breakfast.
I thought the trail drop off. looked especially steep but now looking at it in this picture it look about average yet it did go down and down and down.
The night before we had a downpour about 10 PM. The wind blew rain into my tent. Lightning struck nearby which was frightening. However in about an hour it was over. In the morning I packed up my wet and damp things and hiked on. When I was done hiking (I was tapering and did 9.4 miles) I hung up my things to dry. This included my tent and sleeping bag among other things. In less than an hour all we’re dry.
My left shoe now has a large gaping hole after the tape fell off. Luckily not much trail debris has been getting in and bothering me. Kathy is sending me new shoes and inserts to my Daleville hotel.
One of the “famous” spots on the AT is McAfee Knob. I got there early in the morning and had no one to take my picture standing or sitting on the edge so a selfie has to do. Actually I’m afraid of heights and wouldn’t be caught anywhere near the edge so a selfie is just fine.
A panoramic image from McAfee Knob.
Water from a culvert – yum! The pipe is especially helpful because has less sediment and grunge coming out of it. I’m drinking 4-5 liters a day so planning and getting water is a necessary daily ritual.
The next sight after a descent and ascent from McAfee Knob is Tinker Cliffs. Although we have many needless ups and downs I felt these two were worth it.
Just another scenic picture from up high of green valleys mottled in sunlight.
Today’s hike, the last of my taper hikes, went by these massive granite boulders at the top of a mini-climb. The sunlight, lichens and mosses make interesting patterns on them.
At 8 AM I took a snack break on the rocks behind the tree with the white blaze on it. I took off my pack, sat on the rocks, mixed orange flavoring in my water, ate a Chocolate Brownie Clif Bar, and drank my yummy water. I only had 9.3 miles and soon I was back in civilization with traffic, shopping centers, and the busyness we call daily life.

Chewed up feet

A few days ago leaving Pearisburg early in the morning I had to cross a highway bridge just as the sun appeared. I was lugging 6 1/2 days of food, my heaviest
This is my sad attempt at repairing the hole in my left shoe. It didn’t work and the tape is now lost somewhere on trail. Since then I’m hiking with a big hole there and accepting the debris I collect.
Getting ready for bed. I wear a fleece hat. My pillow is my cold gear stuff sack with a handmade pillow case on it. My hat is behind me and hold all my pick stuff including my phone, glasses, etc. That’s a nasal strip to help me breathe at night – I got small nostrils. And I sleep in my hiking clothes – yup I wear the 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Simple trail magic. The cooler had more fruit, sodas, Gatorade, beer, and candy. They even provided a garbage can. Unfortunately I didn’t have anything but should have.
The trail becomes rock. I’m not very stable, that is, I have terrible balance. I use hiking poles to help me – I call them hiking canes. Do you see the white blaze on the rock? I’ve got to get up and go that way. And do it very carefully!
TRAIL MAGIC EXTRAORDINAIRE: tents, chairs, gas stove, sodas, pizza, donuts, and on and on and on. Hosted by Briar Patch and his friend John. It brightened the spirits of all hikers and put a bounce in my step as I left smiling and full.
My trail buddy Lex, heading out separately. I’m heading home for Hamilton and he is heading on. We’ve shared part of this journey together. He’s a good man and hiker. Safe Journey my friend.
This is Scribe. He is a trail maintainer. Today among other things he was painting WHITE BLAZES! Thank you Scribe.

Hamilton

Even before I started hiking the Appalachian Trail Kathy and I knew about Broadway Across America’s performance of Hamilton on May 31st. So as part of my hike plan I said I would return to Austin to attend this special musical.

I started the trail on April 14th and found that it was much harder than expected. On average I was doing 16 miles per day unlike my 20 mpd on the PCT. So on May 1st I had enough experience and I calculated that I need to do 16 mpd EACH AND EVERYDAY UNTIL I LEFT FOR AUSTIN! OMG! No zero days! So that’s what I did. I needed to grind out those miles.

I’m now seven days from leaving. And it looks like I’m going to make it. I’ve reserved a room at the Roanoke airport for May 29th and a flight on May 30th. Kathy is sending me travel clothes to the hotel. All is set.

Then I return on June 1st and right back into it, because I’ll be meeting Art and his family on June 21-23 at Greenbrier State Park in Maryland. Again this is going to be all I can do to get there on June 21st. But that’s what I want to do. No zeroes. I need to grind out those miles again.

In Pearisburg VA

Down, down, down I hiked into the outskirts of the town of Pearisburg VA. Then a 0.7 mile hike on Cross Avenue to the Plaza Motel where I got my laundry done and a shower. Across the street I resupplied at the Food Lion. I got 6 1/2 days of food. OMG it is so heavy. And tomorrow I have to lug it back up into the mountains.

In the early morning before descending. Somewhere down thereto the left is Pearisburg VA. The descent was rocky, steep and treacherous.
This is what 600 miles of hiking does to Brooks Cascadia trail running shoes. Note: holes in toe box that let in dust, dirt and small stones; oh, and sticks can get stuck in the holes. P.S. you can’t appreciate the shocking aroma that they produce.
Another mature hiker, Wilson – as in the volleyball, who I have been camping and talking with for the past few days.

Heading into Pearisburg VA

Almost to Pearisburg VA for my next resupply. I am camping 16 miles away to be there after finishing tomorrow’s hike. Then Lex and I will share a room, get showers, have our laundry done, do our resupply, and leave the following morning – Me to begin my staging for home in seven days, and Lex to continue hiking north solo.

Neat wooden and cable suspension bridge. This is Wilson just before he splits off to Trent’s Grocery and the Mountain Dew that he is going to get there. He loves Mountain Dew.
Selfie after 600 miles of thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail

600 miles

The morning after the deluge. See previous post to see the before picture.
I like being above the clouds. Heading towards Bland VA.
Hiking through a burned out section. No shade, but could see into the valley.
Almost to Bland VA and the Brushy Mountain Outpost for on-trail resupply
Yippee! Passed 600 miles today.

Gluttony

All I do is eat all day long. I have to feed my hiking engine. Breakfast at 6 AM, Clif bar snack at 8 AM, Granola bar snack at 10 AM, Lunch at Noon, Candy snack at 2 PM, and Dinner about 5 PM.

Sometime I take a picture of the view and completely forget why I took it. This is the case for this picture.
Sometimes the trail crosses train tracks. Look both ways. Listen both ways. Then cross
This morning I got a cell signal at the lookout. The view was nice and I sent a message to my middle son telling him he is in my thoughts and wishes today
Climbing the pastures in the morning is like walking through a stream. Each blade of grass has dew on it and soon your pants, shoes and socks are sopping wet.
Yet another obstacle to surmount. Between farmer’s field you need to carefully climb up, get your pols over, turn around, and climb down. With 30 lb. pack this can be awkward
I just thought this look neat. The twisted ruins of a fallen tree and the blooms of the rhododendrons. By the way it was easy to cross.
Tonight I’m staying at Chestnut Knob Shelter at 4400’ elevation and a nice view
The Chestnut Knob Shelter is a building with a door unlike most shelters with just three sides

And there he goes again into the mountains

In Damascus the streets are paved with AT as it runs through town (not really it’s just the sidewalks)
The AT has many bridges to cross streams versus the PCT where you had to wade across
Sine the start in Georgia I’ve been passing thousands of rhododendrons and finally they are starting to bloom. More signs Spring is here
More on the obstacle course… if you think the trail fairies and elves make the trail flat and manicures, sorry, it is rocks and other things constantly
For example riots, I’ve got to watch not to twist an ankle
And then there are the dreaded steps, both up and down, hikers hate them and try to hike on the edges to make a ramp
The Greyson Highland has ponies and they come right up to you. You are not supposed to feed or pet them but you can tell by their nuzzles that they have been
Same view ithout the pony in it – ha!
Yet another minor obstacle, crossing small streams by leaping from rock to rock. Because I’m unsteady I carefully step. Which rocks would you use?
My roomie in Marion VA at mile 534, Lex, a very nice guy

Made it to Virginia

Two days of rain means wet feet all day, splashing in trail puddles, oozing mucky trail, and at the end of the day taking off those gawd awful filthy shoes, wet gaiters and sopping socks
The AT is one of the worlds longest obstacle courses. For hours on end you encounter things to go over, go around or go under. In this case I chose to go over as did the hiker in front of me. There are tens if not hundreds of things like this to negotiate each day. It keeps you mentally busy and in the moment. The muck added a bit extra zest.
Today I am Damascus VA at mile 472. It was a tough hike because of the rain and a kink in my back. So instead of resupplying and going on I’m staying at the Woodchuck hostel where I got a shower, washed my clothes, resupplied, and met a few other hikers in a multi bed dormitory.

Heading to and leaving Hampton TN

Somewhere outside of Hampton TN I just thought the view was pretty
Going into Hampton TN you walk by the Laurel River. The sounds of river water is so calming and nice
Down many many uneven stone steps and you see Laurel Falls
Everyday you need liters of water. Here is a typical source. Can you see the leaf that makes a spout to fill your bottle easily. After that you filter it and chugalug. Yum!
After leaving Hampton TN you need to climb over this mountain where you get to see this lake far below.
And then three miles later and one and one half hours of hiking you are walking beside this same lake
The lake is the result of an earthen Dam which the trail goes across
The view from behind our shelter. We’re back up high again with the lake in the distance. There is a hundred foot drop off, but these youthful hikers are just relaxing and enjoying the sights