Soggy Days and Other Observations

Soggy Days 

Hiking in the Clouds

Hiking in the Clouds

Within an hour of leaving Marion, Virginia, the rain started and continued off and on for five days.  This situation led us to use the shelters on the Appalachian Trail to ensure dry nights.  While sleeping next to four snoring strangers isn’t great, it beats hauling around a wet tent.  As far as hiking, the rocky portions of the trail become dangerously slick, so it’s slow going.  With the rain the temperature tends to drop, making it a much cooler hike.  Water sources are more readily available making logistics less of a hassle.  

Sensory Overload

Rhododendron Blooms

Rhododendron Blooms

With the increased rainfall comes increased cloud cover, so the majestic mountain views give way to a misty void.  While initially disappointing, we quickly found our senses turned internally on the trail.  The pink blooms of the dark green rhododendron combined with the light green leaves and orange blooms of the nearby tulip poplars provided plenty of eye candy.  The smell of these blooms was incredibly sweet, like opening a fresh jar of honey.  The sounds of the birds is constant along with the sound of the bumblebees.  The cool breeze on our faces and the feeling of the wet grasses hitting our shins and calves keep us from overheating on the ascents.  These occur simultaneously and it’s incredible.

Water Crossing on Mother’s Day

We received a warning about the bridge out at Lick Creek earlier.  Water crossings with a backpack can be difficult, especially when the creek has been subject to a lot of rain.  Ma Wampus had worked out a system of clips and rope that she planned to use.  It was a bit anti-climatic though, as the water was just knee deep, moving, but not the threatened swollen river.  Regardless, Ma Wampus prepared to execute her carefully thought out plan.

I just walked across with my camp shoes and then came up with a plan of my own.  The hikers busy reconfiguring their bags on the other side of the creek thought my plan was brilliant and within moments I had several volunteers to help take a photo.  

Mother’s Day Water Crossing

Mother’s Day Water Crossing

Goodbye to Old Friends

Rain is rather hard on gear, especially gear in constant use.  It is with heavy heart that Ma Wampus had to say goodbye to these good friends. 

Other Observations

Burke’s Garden, Virginia

Burke’s Garden is a very fascinating geological formation and a beautiful area. The valley to the north, which looks like a giant, 8 mile by 4 mile crater from above, is a limestone sinkhole. The valley has only one natural outlet, in the north, and only two roads leading out of it.  It’s also spins into an incredible story.  

Follow the River

In 1755, during the French and Indian War, a raiding party of Shawnee hit a settlement called Draper’s Meadow – near Blacksburg VA.  They killed four settlers and took five captives, which included Mary Draper Ingles and her sons, George (infant) and Thomas – age 4.  The Shawnee took the group to the Ohio River Valley, hundreds of miles away.  Mary, separated from her young sons, eventually escapes and her adventures are captured in the book “Follow the River”.  She made it back to Giles County Virginia, barely.  Mary couldn’t swim, had no weapons other than an old hatchet, no food, and a fellow escapee goes crazy part way through the trip and tries to kill her…for dinner.  

Warrior’s Way

George died in captivity but the Shawnee adopted Thomas into their tribe.  At age 17, the Shawnee returned Thomas to the Ingles family.  He was in all respects a Shawnee warrior at this point – did not speak English.  Thomas “rehabilitated” with Dr. Thomas Walker, a famous explorer at the time.  After rehab, which was described as “unpleasant”, Thomas makes his way into the colonial military, eventually rising to the rank of colonel.  Thomas’ exploits included fighting against his former captors in Lord Dunmore’s War.  After the war, he settles down, marries, and raises a family in this beautiful area.  

Unfortunately, his story does not end there as his family was also subjected to a raid and taken.  Thomas hunted the kidnappers down, Liam Neeson style, but in the ensuing violence the kidnappers killed two of his children and wounded his wife.  Thomas and his wife had five more children and he had several successful business ventures.  

Pearisburg, Virginia

There were several interesting stories here but probably the best has to do with the 1862 invasion.  In 1862 Union Colonel Hayes attacked the town in an effort to destroy some Confederate supplies stored in the town.   He set up a headquarters in the Andrew Johnston house, which is now a museum (operated by volunteers, so check the website before visiting).  Union Sgt. McKinley oversaw logistics here for Col. Hayes.  

The occupation is fairly short, as a much larger Confederate force move into the area, forcing Hayes, McKinley, and the rest of the Union force to leave the area in haste.  Some fighting occurred – there are bullet holes in the courthouse – and both sides suffered at least one casualty, but it is generally described as a fairly minor affair.  Hayes and McKinley, of course, survive the war and both get elected in the future as President of the United States!  So, maybe not so minor.  

That’s it for this week – we’ll talk to you soon!  

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

What Do You Think?