Dive motel near Atkins, Virginia [mile 542.2; mpd 8.09]
Let me just say, as a warning to anybody who orders pizza at Partnership Shelter: Last night was like an outtake from Blazing Saddles. The amount of farting rising from the tents was phenomenal. People don’t even try to hide it! Dude, that tent’s made of nylon and you don’t have nearly as much privacy as you think! After the party was over, one guy paced the gravel path (loudly) for at least an hour, and every time somebody farted (or maybe it was him), he said, “Oh, yeah!” I kid you not. Sometimes the trail is a circus, and sometime’s it’s a zoo.
Anyway. I hit the trail at 7:30. I had a lake between the footprint and the tent, so of course everything was wet. But I made one huge change today. I was thinking about yesterday’s bout of despair, and I realized that it wasn’t the actual hill that made me feel that way; it was the elevation profile. So today, I decided not to even look at the profile. I don’t really need to until New York. It’s the Appalachian Trail. Sometimes it goes up. Sometimes it goes down. It doesn’t change a thing.
And don’t you know, I did 2 miles per hour until noon, including some bad terrain and a couple of steep uphills.
Now, part of the terrain was easy. And having a belly full of pizza didn’t hurt matters. But I think looking at the elevation profile just psychs me out. So I’m going to try to be done with that for a while.
Also, shelters. Last night was insane. Now that summer’s coming, the shelters are full of all kinds of hikers. Some of them are on vacation or out for a weekend party, and for a working stiff it’s a little much. I’ll probably be doing more stealth camping when and where I can.
So back to today. At about 10 AM, the rain started. Surprise! This was the Mad-rain-wept-by-a-milk-eyed-sky. The sky didn’t know whether it wanted to pour or drizzle, or blow a gusty wind. But overall, aside from the relentless moisture, was fog. Another pea souper. There may have been some views, but all that was visible was a wall of white.
The trail got lovely, though. Rhododendrons, of course (which are starting to burst with fat buds), but also a beautiful stream. The trail followed it for a long way.
I had lunch (pizza!) at a shelter. Sparky was there and Wooden Spoon (with her doggie Gaia), and Rodeo. I asked Rodeo if he was keeping dry, and he said he gave up on that about 5 days ago.
They mentioned this little dump motel that was right on the trail, and a plan was born! It was supposed to rain again tonight, the tent was sopping, and I’d have done 12 miles. I thought, What the heck. If they have a room, I’m taking it.
The trail really changed after that. The rain slowed, then finally stopped. We moved through little farm fields and meadows, with the trail a squelching path through knee-high grass. The last couple of miles were pure mud. It was like walking on pudding: thick, slick, and gripping. Under the sun, my raingear was hot, but there was so much poison ivy that I didn’t want to put my pack down. (See? Learning!)
And here I am! The seediest, diviest dump I’ve ever stayed in, and it’s bliss! The proprieter used to work up the street from me, in King of Prussia. He advised me not to move to a small town in the south. So, another plan thwarted.
I did laundry and ate dinner with Bluebird, Sass, and Sass’s visitor in a little restaurant that was more like a VFW hall. Good burger, though! My plan is to hit them for breakfast at 7 AM, then get back on the trail from there. Belly full of town food and feet rarin’ to go.
Also, it’s raining. With worse to come tonight, according to the cashier at the truck stop next door. It’s raining, and I’m warm and dry and inside. My tent is dry, and my socks no longer stink like Satan’s privy.
Life is good.