Saturday, July 28, 2012
VA 607 Fox Creek – Troutdale, VA (8.5
AT Miles hiked) Mile 516.1
I' m back on the AT! I drove to Bland VA from Louisville
KY last night. This morning I got shuttled to VA 603 where I left off in 2010. The air is clean and the temperature is in
The climb out of 603 was gradual but a good reminder of the challenges that lay ahead. Once on the ridge top
the hiking was a dream.... mostly flat and smooth. I wanted to get back into this gradually so I limited myself to only about
8.5 miles today. I only ran into a few hikers today. The mass of thru hikers are much further north at this point. It looks
like I'll be hiking solo for most of this trip.
In just a few short hours I am at the road crossing that leads to Troutdale.
I turn right towards town and stick out my thumb. Soon a kayaker in a SUV picks me up and drives me to "town". The first thing
I notice is that Jerry's grocery/restaurant is closed. I walk on into the hiker hostel at Troutdale Baptist Church and set
up. The next thing you notice about Troutdale is that there in nothing here except the Hostel. That said the church has gone
to great lengths to provide a quality stop for hikers. There is a top notch bunkhouse, showers, clothesline, water spigot
and a port-a-potty.
I cooked a nice meal I brought of chicken, stuffing and gravy.
My feet look good and I am looking
forward tomorrow’s hike. I listen to an Adam Carolla podcast and drifted off.
Sunday, July 29th 2012
Troutdale, VA – Partnership Shelter
(14.5 AT Miles hiked) Mile 530.6
Today started with a 2 - 1/2 mile road walk from Troutdale Baptist Church to
the trailhead. For the most part the trail was a flat walk in the woods. As I was approaching Trimpi shelter I ran into a
very nice couple of school teachers from Wyoming named Jan and Steve Martin. I told him I would never forget his name. They
had just made a common error, one that every AT hiker eventually makes. They turned the wrong way out of the shelter. When
I found out their destination today was the same as mine, Partnership Shelter, I got them turned in the right direction. They
had been on the trail from Springer since early June. I found out they had used the same shuttle service I used in Georgia...
Joyce and Sally.
I marched into the shelter and it was beautiful! It had a propane shower, sink around the back, clothesline
and a vault toilet. A hundred yards away was the Mt. Rogers visitor’s center. Inside was a Pepsi machine, candy, and
a restroom. Outside was a free phone that can be used for free local calls. I grabbed a couple of drinks and made my way back
to the shelter for a nice warm shower.
I rinsed out my clothes and hung them on the line. About that time Jan and Steve
came in. We got things settled in and Steve and I made our way to the visitor’s center. Once there we called Pizza Hut
for a delivery to the visitor’s center. I ordered pie and a salad. When we got back to the shelter 2 more hikers ventured
in... Freedom Train a nice 19 year old young man from Minnesota and a guy named
Dave from New Mexico. Freedom train had the look and smell of a thru hiker. He had started the trail with a group and never
went back home with them. He may try to do a flip at Harpers Ferry and make the deadline at Katahdyn. Dave was very proud
of his cook system. He wasn't too impressed with my 6 oz kitchen (Heineken can, Esbit titanium tripod and tablets).
a honk of the horn It was Pizza time! We each pitched in a slice for Freedom Train who was pinched for cash. I also had too
much salad and I offered part of it up with the only taker being Jan.
I set up my Hammock by attaching it to the posts
of the shelter overhang. It is dark and I make a selection of country music on the iPod to go to sleep to. Overall this has
been a pretty good day.
Monday, July 30th, 2012
Partnership Shelter- Atkins, VA (11.6
AT Miles hiked ) Mile 542.2
This morning I leave partnership shelter.
I bid a fond adieu to Jan and Steve. They are going back to Wyoming via a bus trip to D.C. Followed by a plane ride. I wish
we could have spent a few days together on the trail. Freedom train is also headed
north and I should see him in Atkins tonight.
The hiking today is mostly uneventful. I run into a southbound section hiker
named Maytag. He is headed to Damascus and will have completed the trail from Springer to Bland at that point. As I hike this
section of VA. I can't help but be reminded of the trails in Kentucky. They are dry on top and the low areas by the creek
are covered with rhododendron with everything green and damp. So damp that I believe the Devil himself couldn't dry off there.
The highlights of the day were the free Settler's museum and blackberries. Both were appreciated.
As I roll into the
Relax Inn I am looking forward to doing laundry and getting clean. Everyone told me the Relax Inn was a dive so my expectations
were exceeded. The room was clean. The T.V., air and shower worked fine. The Barn restaurant was the highlight of the day.
I may have had the best club sandwich I have ever experienced there.
I have made a tactical error on packing for my trip.
I bought a new Body Glide strip for this trip but accidentally packed my half used one. Body Glide is perfect for keeping
certain body parts from chaffing. I ran out yesterday and that "taint" good. I am hoping a nice bath will remedy that situation.
Before bed I catch up on a little of the Olympics...eat a little and crash hard around 10:00 pm.
Tuesday, July 31st, 2012
Atkins, VA- Campsite near Lynn Creek (15.1 AT miles hiked) Mile 557.3
After a great night's sleep I had
breakfast at The Barn Restaurant. Leaving The Barn I started to follow what I thought were AT markers which led me in the
wrong direction. Very nice local got me going in the right direction. The biggest worry today is my rash. It seems to have
gotten worse. Today was just one of those putting in the miles day. Rain looms overhead and it is painful hiking thanks to
my condition. The second half of the day water is scarce. There was however one
noteworthy moment today. As I passed through the 546 mile mark I had now completed ¼ th of the entire Appalachian Trail. Yay…only
1638 to go. Well, at least I have something to look forward to.
I pass Freedom Train at the shelter and I decide to forge
ahead to find a nicer hammock spot. There is also no water at the shelter. I found a small bit about .1 mi. north of the Knot
Maul Branch Shelter on the trail. Not one to hike the same ground 3 x I decided to forge ahead. I found the perfect place to camp near a creek. I set up the hammock in a drizzle. I was set for the evening.
enjoyed a nice Pizza Ramen dish I got off of Freezerbagcooking.com. As I lay in my hammock a steady rain is coming down and I drift off just before the darkness sets in.
Wednesday, August 1st, 2012
Campsite near Lynn Creek- VA 623 Garden Mountain
Rd (14.1 AT miles Hiked) Mile 571.4
Wow! I drifted off to sleep before 9pm last night and I
awaken at 7:00am. I have never slept so well in the woods until I got this hammock. I am used to tossing, turning and getting
up to use the restroom. I woke up in the same exact position I went to sleep in. I pack everything up dry except the hammock
which I position in my pack outside of the liner bag in my pack. I am hoping to find a good spot to dry it out today. My rash
is getting worse. As I hit the trail there is a pretty decent climb of about 600 feet. Adding to that I am walking like a
cowboy. In the 4.6 miles from USFS 222 to Chestnut Knob Shelter there is an elevation gain of over 2000 feet. It is hot and
dry. As you approach the shelter there is a spring fed pond on the left about .2 miles before the shelter. Someone had issued
a written warning stating the water was unfit to drink. I approach all water as unfit unless it is filtered. Since my filter
is in- line with my Camelbak I simply dump the water in and go. I made my way to Chestnut Knob Shelter a former fire warden’s
cabin. The shelter was an oasis of sun and scenery. While I dined on an exquisite lunch of peanut butter crackers and a Payday
candy bar, I hung out my hammock to dry in the sun and wind. Freedom train came in and we had lunch together. I confessed
to him that I had thought of a different trail name for him. That name was what I felt appropriate for a young man from Minnesota
with a full head of red hair…”Crème Sota”. He kinda liked it. From here I just had 6.7 miles to go to my
intended destination for the evening… Davis Farm Campsite. About 4 miles into that I was walking with some pretty bad
pain. I knew I was getting closer to VA. 623 Garden Mountain Rd. The thought occurred to me to take a zero day and try to
heal up so I could go forward. I called the Big Walker Hotel in Bland and they sent their man “Bubba” to pick
me up. After checking in I went to the Dollar General Store to get some first aid supplies. The next day I mostly stayed in my room with a few exceptions of getting meals.
By Friday morning I saw neither much improvement in my condition or the need to put myself through another 3 miserable days
trying to ignore it. So instead of having Bubba take me back to the trail he drove me to Woods Hole Hostel where my car was
parked. My rational is that I am section hiking and I will simply re-enter the
trail where I last got off no matter what the situation was or will be. So that was it for 2012. I’ll be back next year
and I’ll be a little wiser and better prepared.
I departed Woods Hole and I made my way to The Grayson
Highlands because on my previous 2 trips there I failed to see a single wild pony. This is also as close as I’ll ever
be to there so why not? Lo and behold as I was about ¾ ways up the hill to their grazing area two of the ponies came to greet
me. OK, now I believe in the Grayson Highland Ponies. It’s time to head back home to Louisville.