Days 50-54 on The Appalachian Trail

My Strategy to Stay Healthy

In this and previous posts you may have noticed that I am shuttling and staying in hostels or a B&B mostly since injury. The reason is to allow me to slack pack while the injuries heal and to keep my body from getting drained. There is also one other injury I don’t mention and will not. I want to stay on trail and finish, so this is a necessary step to take. While some mindsets may and have taken issue with the way I’m doing this short term as I have already heard, remember 90% disabled veteran moving up the trail despite challenges.
My tent and I will re-engage as a couple in a few days for those worried about our relationship.

Solo Hiking and Wandering Thoughts

I have hiked alone for 54 days to this point. Every episode of Kung Fu, save for multi-part episodes seemed to begin and end in the same way with Kwai Chang Caine walking alone with his bedroll and flute. For some reason my mind and over-developed sense of humor latched onto that in this section.

Boomerang: Shaolin Hiker

Looked for, he cannot be seen.

Listened for, he cannot be heard.

Sniffed for, he cannot be smelled.

To monetize this, there could be Boomerang the Lunchbox, Boomerang the Buff, Boomerang the Trowel…no not the Trowel.  That is not the way I wish to be remembered.

Old Friends

Thirty years ago while waiting for my class date for Air Force Officer Training School I worked as a Garde Manger at a private club for Chef Ben Roberts. Under his tutelage I learned techniques and recipes that benefit me to this day. Years later my son worked at one of Ben’s restaurants while in college. Ben and his wife Susan now run a small medical clinic in Fancy Gap, Virginia and were kind enough to entertain me in their home and feed me the best meal I’ve had on trail. It took the trail for me to visit, I’ll be coming more often. This happiness helps carry me up the trail.


New Friends and Best Trail Names

My shuttle driver in the Bland area, Miss Pam, makes my list of musts and friends. Pleasant, engaging, and a wonderful soul. I don’t see her listed anywhere, but her number was up at the only hotel in Bland.
Neville at The Woods Hole Hostel. We share a common language of TBI and the understanding that comes with it. I will thank you quietly through my journey and hold you as a friend.

In the running for best trail names so far are The Experience and The Hiking Tomato. I don’t have a picture of THT, but she is just awesome! Having started two days apart this was our first encounter. The Experience is so many good things all put together. It was also good to see Rambler again.

The Experience and Rambler

Day 50

My longest day on trail with over 27 miles hiked. Beautiful views, a cool shelter, and the opportunity to use my headlamp for a while. The day also provided a very sobering moment. A group of 8 Amish youths met up with me on the trail. They had come down from Ohio for a funeral. A crash in Wisconsin killed 9 Amish people with a 2 year old being the only survivor. Seven of the victims were from nearby Burke’s Garden, Virginia. In their time of mourning these young people came to walk the trail for a little while and shared their story with me as we walked. I have no words and remember little else about the day.

Day 51

While in the Bland area I stayed at The Big Wagner Motel and Miss Pam was kind enough to put up with me. Starting the day with a sandwich from Brushy Mountain Outpost I took a leisurely pace to make sure my body and mind settled from the previous day. There was a a moment to smile about when I reached the 600 mile mark.

Six hundred miles done!

It is these milestones that urge us onward and with each passing century mark the dream of Maine becomes more real.

Day 52

Onwards from this last leg of the Bland area.






About 21 miles and the Woods Hole Hostel was my goal for the day. Ponds, streams, suspension bridges, and a wilderness area lie ahead. Just a personal note, naming things “dismal” doesn’t add a positive feeling.

Not a hard hike and enough variety to keep it interesting. There is a wilderness area designation across the road from here with a sign in sheet.

The rock slide near the end of this section caused a minor flashback

After weeks of hiking my legs can take twenty miles with no issues.

Arrived at the hostel and Nigelle had a hot dinner waiting for me. The facilities nice, the company charming, and the bunk comfortable. A great stay.

Day 53

After a good night’s rest and a warming breakfast I was picked up by Hot Tamale from the Angel’s Rest Hikers Haven in Pearisburg for a chiropractic appointment on site.

While there I made arrangements to stay. The adjustment did wonders and I threw together a light pack and was shuttled back near Woods Hole Hostel to hike back into Pearisburg. What a great 12 miles! The rock formations, the long downhills.












I had a private room in the house. Price was great and everything just spot on.  Dinner was at the Chinese buffet at the nearby strip mall. I’m sure it’s the one in Waynesboro that everyone raves about.

Day 54

Well rested and back adjusted, Mountain Mike shuttled me out for my 20 miles to Peter’s Mountain trailhead. Mike is a thru hiker, knows the area thoroughly and is a good man.  He lent me his trekking poles yesterday because, well my mind works like it works.

This section has so much. I hiked it southbound and coming across the bridge with white blazes is something I have waited for. I have seen so many of these sites in videos and it is satisfying seeing them in person.

At the end of a most fulfilling day the nearby Mexican restaurant provided comfort food. I’d definitely recommend this place. A #7 plus three crunchy tacos.







Final Thoughts

“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”

Nelson Mandela

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Comments 12

  • Dianna Austin : Mar 26th

    I am enjoying following your journey. Be careful. And I read ” hike your own hike” a lot and I truly am rooting for you. So if you need to take care of your health to continue tell any critics to stick it. Looking forward to your blogs.

  • Tom : Mar 26th

    Glad to see you’re doing good. Starting to put in some big milage days. Great pics by the way. You’re crushing this hike Boomerang. It’s your hike – do it your way !!

  • CzechM8 : Mar 26th

    Good Morning Charles,

    Welp… you’ve now passed right on through my section (Dickey’s Gap to Pearisburg) very quietly. My family had very much been hoping to meet you and feed you, but I don’t think you’ve been receiving my messages here and on Facebook. Oh, well.

    However… it appears that you are recovering very well and having lots of really great experiences! I’ve looked forward to reading them; You have an enjoyable writing style. Glad you got to visit your friends in Fancy Gap, which is our backyard! lol

    God be with you, Charles. I pray you make it safely to Maine. I think you have a very sunny outlook and, if you can just keep yourself from additional injuries, it seems like you’re the kind of guy who won’t give up until you make it all the way to Mt. Katahdin. (PS The trail then extends on to Nova Scotia!)

    Be well and God bless you on your journey!

    Your friend,

    • Charles Gutierrez : Apr 2nd

      My friend, so sorry we didn’t meet up. I was sure I emailed you. Message me today and I’ll let you know where I am. May God bless you and your family!

  • LUCINDA KELLEY (Cindy) : Mar 26th

    Heard about you from my boyfriend, Jeff (El Jefe) and his son, Breton (Uhtred) who just met you this past weekend (March 22-24). Sounds like you’ve had quite an adventure so far and you have miles to go! Read and enjoyed your blog. Looking forward to hearing more interesting stories along the way to Maine.

    Take care and be safe.

    • Charles Gutierrez : Apr 2nd

      It is a joy to meet people on the trail. My journey North is a happy one and though I have hiked alone through it’s entirety, brief encounters with good folks help sustain me.

  • Kelli Ramey : Mar 26th

    You are doing this.
    Keep on keeping on.
    We are awed and inspired

    • Charles Gutierrez : Mar 31st

      As I put the miles behind me and the miles in front become less and less it is a little dizzying knowing that I have persevered. Every day I am more aware of chance of completing the trail and know there is so much owed to so many for their encouragement. In June I hope to summit Mt. Katahdin and fulfill this dream. Thank you for your support and kind words!

  • TrailMagicNat : Mar 29th

    Good to see you regaining some momentum and confidence in your abilities to do this hike! Lots of good folk willing to help along the way if it helps to get you closer to your goal. You are welcome to stay with us once you’re in southern PA!

    • Charles Gutierrez : Apr 2nd

      Thank you so much! Getting longer miles now and will jump south next week as I owe the Smokies 30 miles. I may take you up on your generous offer. Feeling good and healthy.


    Your shuttle dropped you off at BearWallow Gap. I was eating breakfast next to the creek. Even though you were headed North you came South just to talk for a while.
    Praying you have a wonderful trek to Maine and I’ll be following your blog.

    • Charles Gutierrez : Apr 2nd

      It was a pleasure chatting with you and members of your group. Your work and journey are a blessing. Thought of all of you Easter at sunrise.


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