Blue Skies Chase Away the Rainy Day Blahs

When I left Marion it was another miserable rainy day. I have now realized that I absolutely hate hiking in the rain. I trudged on, though after a few hours of wetness I just stealth camped for the night hoping for a better day tomorrow. Unfortunately, I woke up and it was still raining. Such a discouraging way to start my day. It was this day that I was so unmotivated that I only did 6.5 miles to Knot Maul Shelter, the smallest mileage day since I started the trail. I just could not mentally get my legs to do more than that.

Bland, Va.

Waking up at Knot Maul Shelter was a much better day. The sun was up and the sky had a lot of blue so I got my reprieve. I made it to Bland, Va., a very bland town indeed. In the blandness, though, I did find a gem. The name of the gem is Lickskillet Hostel. This hostel is run by Mongo, and it is a converted church. It’s only the second year in business and he is doing it on a donation basis. If anyone reading this has a chance to stay here, I highly recommend it. You will definitely appreciate it when Mongo brings you to the Amish store and you get a sandwich that is a legit four inches thick with homemade bread for $4.99. Lickskillet also offers free slack packing, which I took advantage of. I had received my Limmer boots back after being widened. Unfortunately, they were not widened enough so they had to be sent back. So back to the Hokas for now.

Pearisburg, Va.

From Lickskillet I hiked Into Pearisburg to Angels Rest Hostel, another fantastic place that I highly recommend. I was set up with a slack pack and did 20 miles the next day. It was a fantastic, sunny day and a very hot 85 to 90 degrees but it was welcomed after all the rain and cold weather. So I was listening to my headphones and grooving down the trail. At one point I had the Beach Boys playing and I was singing very loudly to “Surfin’ USA,” even trying to hit the high notes. During one of those high notes I rounded the corner and saw a U.S. Forest Service ranger leaning up against a tree looking at me and shaking his head. I just smiled waved and kept on singing and grooving along.

The forest rangers were there because of some protesters of a pipeline that is going across the AT and because of eminent domain laws that are taking a portion of some people’s property. So the property owner is sitting up in a tree to try to stop the pipeline progress.

Onward to Catawba

Leaving Angels Rest I made it to Warm Spur Shelter. It was a little over 13 miles, so not a bad day at all and my pack was heavier than the day I started the trail from Springer. I am looking forward to getting to McAfee Knob and getting the quintessential photo opportunity. The next day I did the best day; in my opinion, anyway. 18.2 miles with a full pack from War Spur to Niday Shelter, and across a very rocky ridgeline in the rain.  The final two miles I had to use my flashlight on my cell phone since my headlamp died. I made it to Niday Shelter at 9 p.m. All sticky with sweat I blew up my sleeping pad and went right to bed. The next morning brought me to Four Pines Hostel, a mail drop, and later a trip to Daleville to get new shoes. Hopefully, these will work out better than the Hokas. I bought a pair of Oboz. I’ve never tried them before so we’ll see.

On the way to Catawba I did come across the Keefer Oak, the largest oak tree on the trail and said to be over 300 years old. Also I crossed the Eastern Continental Divide. Two very cool things.


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