Pearisburg [mile 630.4; mpd 8.64]
Here’s my new dilemma: I hate sleeping on plastic when it’s sweaty-hot out. Before now I always had on my thermasilks. It’s too hot for those now, and my skin is touching the air mattress. Yuck. I also don’t like the feel of the sleeping bag on my skin, nor the silk sleeping bag liner. It all makes me feel like I’m wrapped up in a shower curtain. I’ll have to play around. It’s going to be a long summer, thankfully; might as well get it right!
I was up and out by 7:05. Somebody told me the terrain was easy all the way to Pearisburg. They lied! But more on that later. First, let me say, today was one of those days in which I made a bad mistake. I was concentrating so hard on miles to Pearisburg and where to camp and when to camp that I was halfway up the morning’s mountain, having sucked down half my water as I panted in the heat, when I checked and realized there was no more water for 8 miles. I had 24 ounces of water and I had to stretch it for 8 miles.
That was tough.
The first stage of the morning was through a great swathe of forest where the trees are apparently late-leafers. I could see the tiny leaves just sprouting, but they were babies. Not enough to provide any shade. Thank gods I had plenty of water. Oh, right. I didn’t.
After that, the trail got creepy. It passed through a 2- or 3-mile stretch of burned-out forest near Big Horse Gap and Sugar Run Gap. It felt like Mordor. I thought I smelled a hint of old fire, but that could have been my imagination. The only thing poking up from that blight were little fernlings, and they were only in a couple of areas. I want to know who started that fire. I want to know how the firefighters were able to contain it. I want to know how long ago it happened. This winter? Last year? I hope it was an intentional burn rather than a campfire accident. The forest was so scarred. Will it come back? I imagine it will… but what devastation.
Beyond that came a rocky stretch then a road crossing with trail magic! A box of candy bars left on the stairs up to the next section. Only on the AT do you find food by the side of the road and dig in gratefully and without reservation. 🙂 But you can tell it’s Trail Days weekend. The last three days have had trail magic, and in every case the treats were hardly touched; most hikers are down in Damascus.
I had lunch at Doc’s Knob Shelter. There was a hiker named Slacks there; he wears a pair of dress slacks that look like wool. LOL. Slacks tented near Wapiti last night and came face to face with a bear; it nosed around his tent for two hours. Scary.
Slacks was pretty much the only hiker I saw all day. The trail feels so deserted!
After lunch came decision time. I already had hamburger feet. To get all the way into Pearisburg would have meant a total of 18.2 miles, plus a mile to get to a motel—19.2 miles. I decided I’d just go 13, maybe 15, then camp and do the rest in the morning. But you know, once I got within 4 miles, the thought of a shower and bed and clean laundry were just too much. I booked it for town!
And I made it!
My feet are screaming, but here I am. Emperor and another hiker are here (shin splints). The Holiday Lodge is great. Sure, people live here; but it’s clean and well maintained and has a laundry room. And it’s home for the next two days while my feet heal up! (And thank gods they had a room; the proprietor said they’re usually always booked, and if it weren’t Trail Days, I’d have been out of luck. Have to keep that in mind going forward.)
Plus there’s a Food Lion across the street. That’s a great market. And there’s a microwave; I wonder if I can make a sort-of-baked potato in it?
I’m so happy to be out of the buggy, thundery, rainy woods at the moment! My hundred-mile reward. 🙂 Whatever gets the miles done!