My First Full Week

Blackburg, Virginia

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.

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The ruins of an old mill on the trail to Knot Maul

The ruins of an old mill on the trail to Knot Maul

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.

Knot Maul shelter

Knot Maul shelter

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.

A picture of the Woods Hole Hostel I took last summer from the bunk house

A picture of the Woods Hole Hostel I took last summer from the bunk house

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.

Large Blizzard with Oreos...Food of the Gods!

Large Blizzard with Oreos…Food of the Gods!

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.

Birthday cake!

Birthday cake!

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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Comments 10

  • Avatar
    Carl Williams : Mar 29th

    George,

    Thanks for the updates and photos. It would appear that the weather is somewhat cooperative and the skies look beautiful!

    Cuz Edward

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Barbara : Mar 29th

    George, I’m finding this fascinating. Hope that you find a warmer solution to the air mattress, Barbara

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Tommy Bourgeois : Mar 29th

    None of us is as strict as we used to be. Enjoy the long walk!

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Don Barker : Mar 29th

    I am glad that your plan is working well so far, save for a cold night. I hope that is the worst experience on the trip…………………….

    Reply
  • Avatar
    George Turner : Mar 29th

    Thanks… Glad you are following along. I’m really glad I’m writing about this trip. I’m resolved to write for a few minutes summarizing the day’s highlights before turning in. I found a solution to the air mattress. I’m putting a bag liner around the air mattress. This solves the problem without adding a lot of weight. Heading out tomorrow with eight days of food. My pack is going to be heavy for a few days.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Jim McLean : Mar 29th

    Thank you for letting us trail along! (Digitally speaking, of course!)

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Irvin Valle (coach) : Mar 30th

    Good job with the blog and photos. It makes my day to be able to follow along with you and a few other hikers on the trail. I cant wait for my adventure to begin even though I havent set a stsrt yet. ( 1 more kid entering college this year so postponed for what seems like 2 more years. Looking forward to seeing more of your posts and pics…

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Kestrelchick : Mar 30th

    loving your posts! Do you use a kindle or a nook or just bring the paperback along?

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Old Growth : May 12th

      Kindle all the way! It easily holds a charge between zeroes

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Mike Kelly : Mar 30th

    Keep you own pace, listing to your body. I’m retiring in Dec. 2017 and hope to make the journey. Keep the posts coming, they give me hope.

    Reply

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