Date: October 20 2000
Trail Day: 142
Miles Today: 11
Location: Best Western Motel, I-81
Section Mile: AT 1404
ECT Mile: 2102
Late last night a hunting dog came to our shelter and slept with us. He was extremely hungry and ate a lot of our food. 10-4 was going to get to a road and hitch to I-81 with the dog and turn him over to the authorities. Andrew, H-Monster and me started off first. About 15 minutes into the hike we found that the dog was following us. We decided to take him to I-81.
The pace was fast. Andrew is 6' 4'', big and fast. We reached I-81 quite quickly.
The rest of the group slowly filtered in. We got 3 motel rooms. Blue's mother and girlfriend showed up later and surprised him. They also bought us shrimps, nuts, cheese, meat etc for a party. A time for eating and drinking. Most people went to bed at about 3:00 AM. I stayed up till 5:00 AM.
Date: October 21 2000
Trail Day: 143
Miles Today: 10
Location: Near Tinker Cliff
Section Mile: AT 1414
ECT Mile: 2112
Got a late start and decided to do a short day. The group has now become too big. I am thinking of speeding up and leaving them behind.
Fairly easy hike today. Decided to sleep out just past the shelter. Saw numerous day hikers.
Date: October 22 2000
Trail Day: 144
Miles Today: 22
Location: Trout Creek
Section Mile: AT 1436
ECT Mile: 2134
Last night I was sleeping in a deer's territory - the familiar snorting and stamping. I have actually not encountered it in a while. Had a good, warm sleep to make up for last night. I think I am also psychologically prepared for winter now. Saw John the Baptist sleeping 20 yards from where I was. Also left a note for T-Pot at one of the shelters asking her to catch up to me or send me an email if she wanted to hike to Key West. She has been toying with the idea. I think it will be great to hike with her.
Mc Afee knob had a decent view. When I got there, there was still a mist. Met H-Monster, EZE, Andrew and 10-4 heading north. Looks like they are just doing a day hike of Mc Afee knob.
I had originally planned on going to the Home Place in Catawba. They have an all you can eat for 9.00 $. I've heard lots of good things about it, but I have been spending so much time in towns and near civilization that I am not that interested in restaurants now.
The climb up Dragon's Tooth was hard. They had metal bars driven in rocks for climbing. I think I saw them last in New Hampshire. There were numerous day hikers. It felt good to blow past them with a full pack !
I was quite worm out after the climb though and the last 3-4 miles seemed quite long. Now cooking dinner with Suriyan's new stove. The lighting process is definitely a pain.
Date: October 23 2000
Trail Day: 145
Miles Today: 21
Location: Laurel Creek Shelter
Section Mile: AT 1457
ECT Mile: 2156
Started climbing to Audie Murphy monument. It went fairly quickly. The trail then descended to a very good valley. Then a climb back to Sinking Creek Mountain. The ridge walk was quite rugged in portions. You walk on the portions covered with leaves or the rocks. The leaves slip and are quite hard on the knees. The rocks are slanted every which way. To make things interesting there are thorny bushes on either side. I saw 2 goats there. They came up to me and started licking my legs. I think they are after the salt. I gave them some salt I had. One of the goats started chewing on my pack strap and left it covered with slime. I got a shot of the 2 goats.
Then came a descent and a nice walk along some pastures. It got quite dark by the end and I thought I had missed the shelter. There were 2 section hikers there.
Water is becoming quite a problem now. I have been without water for several times in the past few days. It has also been very dry. We also need some rain to start the leaf decomposition process. The trails are just covered with them.
Looks like Firebreather, Fall Girl, George and Sweet Cicily are one day ahead. I will try and catch up with them now. I dont think I will be seeing the group behind again. They were fun.
Saw fish in Trout Creek
Slipped on Brush Mountain Peak
Got licked by goats
Pleasant walk through meadows
Date: October 24 2000
Trail Day: 146
Miles Today: 23
Location: Dickinson Gap
Section Mile: AT 1480
ECT Mile: 2179
A climb, flat, down then another climb, down and another climb. That was the profile today. The valleys are now very rich. They have several streams in them and have vegetation with very thick leaves. Its very beautiful.
There were sodas in Wav Spur shelter organized by Blue Skies whom I met back in New York or so. Some of the thru hikers had gone to the ALDHA meeting held about 2 weeks ago. We thus know who is how far behind. Attending the meeting seemed to have no point for me. Why hear people talk about the trail when you are actually doing it ? Besides, in public forums like this there is always a positive spin on the trail. The sweat, dirt, bites and weariness are never mentioned. Very unbalanced. Any way, I did not hear any great things about it.
Today was also a day with bad map profiles. There is a section in Stony Creek valley that the map shows as flat. It is however a mini roller coaster. There was also another section that ran parallel to a Salt Sulphur Turnpike. The road had taken up the ridge top which is fairly even. The trail ran on the side of the mountain and was very rocky. Leaves covering rock can be very dangerous. Slipped several times. Also had to go slow and my patience was tested.
Met 4 section hikers. We are certainly in the Bible belt. I keep getting "May the Lord Bless You" from these idiots. There are also numerous Bibles in all of the shelter. How these religious wackos can assume we need to be saved without knowing the first thing about us is beyond me.
Got a drizzle during the day. I am also eating Luncheon meat made by Kroger's. It is extremely salty and I end up drinking all my water and still end up with a parched throat at night. Will not be buying them any more. Fish seems to be the way to go.
Tomorrow Pearisburg to pick up a mail drop.
Date: October 25 2000
Trail Day: 147
Miles Today: 17
Location: Angel's Rest
Section Mile: AT 1497
ECT Mile: 2196
Today was an overcast day. I was in high spirits. The trail ran the ridge and then descended into Pearisburg. It was beautiful.
A sweet melody on the lips,
Pack's snug on the hips,
Feel the early morning nip,
Far away a lonely farm.
Breathing in the mountain air,
A chipmunk chatters over there,
Bliss and beauty everywhere,
A little bird sings his song.
Feeling nature's harmony,
Wild apples are sweet honey,
Trees magestic so many,
Beauty shows in every form.
The trail entrances with her charm,
An overwhelming sense of calm,
Body, spirit, arm in arm,
Nature is soul's soothing balm.
Date: October 26 2000
Trail Day: 148
Miles Today: 22
Location: VA 606 Campground
Section Mile: AT 1519
ECT Mile: 2218
Today's profile looked quite easy, but I had a hard time completing it. I am getting some minor knee pain because of all the slips on rocks. I decided to go a little easy and rest more.
Looks like Firebreather and Fall Girl are ahead while Sweet Cicily and George are behind because of a O in Pearisburg. Also Lil Debbie and Candyman. two sobo's were in Pearisburg. So I have passed them without meeting. Met a day hiker - Old Geezer, who I have met before in New Hampshire. I remembered him quite well. We talked for a while. He was the only person I met on the trail today.
Also last night some animal was prowling near my tarp for food. It did not take anything but tore up the sub wrappers.
The leaves are now almost all off of the trees. It looks quite barren and gray. But on the up side, we get more sun.
Decided to stop at the store on VA 606 and get groceries and call Vivek. They let you camp and take a hot shower for 2 $ ! It's funny - I have to take a shower and get back into the same dirty clothes. Its been at least 10 days since I have done my laundry. The store has pizza, beer, ice cream etc - a hiker's paradise. I finished off a medium loaded pizza and a pint of ice cream.
The local people now have a distinct southern twang.
Looking forward to a deep sleep tonight.