My First Full Week
It’s been an eventful first week. I left the Relax Inn in Groseclose, Virginia early in the morning. The open sign blinked alluringly from the Barn Restaurant as I passed, but on that particular day I was more interested in eating miles than pancakes. My goal for the day was the Knot Maul Branch shelter 13 miles away. The trail to Knot Maul features several open meadows. There are signs everywhere that Spring is coming, but the temperature assures us it isn’t here yet.
At the shelter I was pleasantly surprised to find a large group of northbounders. Salty and Waffles were there and another flip flopper named Cosmo who started in Damascus. I set up my hammock. That night I made the horrible discovery that my new air mattress doesn’t keep out the cold as well as the one it replaced. It was a cold, uncomfortable night.
The next day I walked 9.4 miles to the Chestnut Knob shelter. I got there about 3:30 in the afternoon. Salty, Waffles and Cosmo had stopped there for lunch. I suspect that I will never see them again. Acceptance of what my body tells me I can do is part of hiking your own hike. That doesn’t mean I don’t suffer a bit from pace envy. I cooked my dinner inside the shelter and slept inside that night. The wind howled and the door regularly slammed through the night.
After spending the next night at the Jenkins shelter, I walked into Bland the next day for my first food drop. Bubba, the local shuttle driver had an appointment in Roanoke the next morning, but he was kind enough to take me back to the trail at 6:00 am the next morning. It was dark as pitch and I read on a rock next to the road until I could see the blazes. I hiked to Jenny Knob shelter that day and slept in the shelter with two other hikers. They both left at the crack of dawn. When I packed up an hour later, I was disappointed to find that my walking stick was missing. I felt like I was missing a limb as I walked to Trent’s Grocery. I had two excellent bacon cheese burgers and a pint of ice cream for lunch. The owner pulled a walking stick from the lost and found and I hiked onto the Wapiti shelter. There I spent a pleasant night with a southbounder named Turtle. We talked well after hiker midnight about books we were listening to and reading as well as my old home town of Brooklyn.
The Wood’s Hole hostel was my next destination. I had reserved one of the bedrooms in the house and my wife was going to meet me with Wallace, one of our dogs. It was a wonderful reunion! After she arrived we walked the half mile up to the trail with Wallace and the two dogs from the hostel.
I would highly recommend stopping at this hostel. You may be rewarded with a pretty incredible communal dinner or breakfast. I love the homey feel of the place and Neville and Michael are wonderful hosts.
I loaded my pack into the back of my wife’s car and slack packed into Pearisburg. It is shocking how much faster I can hike without my full load. Slack packing was the perfect birthday gift. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a sweeter present! I met my wife at the Dairy Queen and indulged in a bit hiker hunger.
We drove to the home of a childhood friend who has settled in Blacksburg. We went out for a nice birthday dinner and came back to the house for dessert. Sixty-fucking-five seems alright so far. I’m going to take a zero here and catch up with my friends.
I have some errands to do today. 1) a trip to the grocery store 2) solve the hammock problem 3) post this blog. The journey continues!
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