It rained all night… until at some point, miraculously, if didn’t. It’s 7:12 AM. I hear them moving and chatting up at the shelter. The tent’s still soaked. Just a half-hour of sunlight, that’s all I need. The sun’s not really out, but there’s a brightness in the sky. I’m taking a late start. I can’t carry the weight of a wet tent again today. So I’ll give it until 8 and try to hit the trail at 9. Frankly, fhe only thing that seems to give me mileage is easy terrain, and if the terrain is easy (ie, not rocky and not steep), I’ll get some miles whether I start at 7 or at 9. If the terrain’s difficult, I won’t get many miles if I start at 6. It doesn’t seem to be something I can really control—at least not while it’s still cold, which sucks the willpower out of me.
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Tenting at a random campsite [mile 517.6; mpd 7.96]
So, the sun came out at around 9! But the air was so saturated and the temperature was so low that nobody’s stuff was drying anyway. I found a patch of full sun and got the tent reasonably unwet, and managed to hit the trail at about 9:40.
The day started out pretty well. Yesterday’s rivers had settled into the ground, more or less, so the trail was sort of pillowy. That’s excellent! I always think I can do 15 miles when the day starts out that way.
Eventually the sun came fully out. I had to stop to change into shorts. There was one big climb early (although a big climb now is substantially different from a big climb a month ago—still a mile or two up, but at lower elevation and generally less steep. I got up into a bit of the old bare brown, but the trees are starting to get the message. They have tiny leaves now. I can’t wait until there’s a little shade. I’ve been walking for two months with nothing between me and the sky.
All the rain has really swollen the creeks and springs and freshets. I took so many pictures of pretty streams and waterfalls that I finally had to cut myself off. I don’t think I can take pictures of all of them! But they’re all so gorgeous! One day I want a cabin near a brook.
Speaking of water, the drinking water has been a little questionable. Because the rain swelled the springs, you can never be sure if you’re drinking spring water or runoff—you know. Pony poop tea.
I pinned the worst of the wet stuff to the top of my pack to catch the sun, but the air was so saturated that most of it didn’t dry. My shoes didn’t even show signs of drying until nearly 4 PM.
I was aiming for the next shelter up the way, but my feet were just too beat from the uphills. (The climbs stress my Achilles tendons; the downhills stress the balls of the feet.) So I checked the AT Guide and found this site. I’m the only one here and it’ll probably stay that way. A lot of hikers are off in various towns, and the young strong hikers probably pushed to the shelter, which is only 3 miles up the trail.
It’s a new state (Virginia, I mean), and I sort of feel like I’m figuring out the rules. There don’t seem to be as many ready-made campsites as there were in the previous states—or is it just that I’m still in the foothills of Mt. Rogers? It’s hard to camp on a steep, steep slope. For now I’m sticking to the book; hopefully up the trail I’l be able to cut loose again and be confident that I can find a spot whenever I need one.
i’m still trying to get to Pearisburg without a town stop. I’m not making the miles I thought I would, though, so food might become an issue. (I swear to gods, I hate the resupply part. If only this could be done without food!) If I do 12 or 13 miles a day, I need 8 or 9 days of food. I have 5 or 6, probably, the way I eat. Tomorrow I’m aiming for Partnership Shelter; you can order pizza from there! That’ll take care of tomorrow night and probably the next morning. (I still can’t eat a whole pizza in one sitting, although plenty of hikers can do that now.) The day after tomorrow there’s also a restaurant and a convenience store right on the trail. That should mean one good meal and a place to top off the food. So I should be good! I hope!
And now it’s raining. LOL. Well, thank heavens, because it’s been so dry around here!
Somebody said I might be able to get a signal at Partnership. I hope so! I’m a little frantic about not being able to check on work. It’s really astonishing when you think about it, that this country is so immense that there are still big areas of wilderness that remain unplugged.
Anyway, there it is. A nice spring day, with sunshine. And tomorrow, a famous school bus!