The Drive Down

In which, suddenly, a road movie breaks out.

Sat 3/23: 2 Days Before Start

I got up around 6:30 to pick up the rental car at 7:00. Like a Pavlovian dog I sprinted to catch the bus as it swung by – oh man, that would be a real bummer, to pull a muscle now – but I made it.

Not much else to prep after that, really;  I threw mine and Birch’s packs in the car… aaaand that’s really all there is to pack. It was time to hit the road.

Last home-brewed cup for a while.

I definitely didn’t feel ready. Oh, there’s this loose end to tie up, there’s that piece of gear or planning that you didn’t vet fully enough – but the time was nigh for road tripping.

Have pack, will travel. Do I look ready? ‘Cause I don’t feel ready.

The Time Machine

The drive down to Georgia was like watching a time lapse film of Spring advancing. A two-day long time lapse film, but still. It was fascinating to see things blooming and even coming to the end of their cycle over the span of two days.

Unfortunately the start was heavy rain for the first 5 hours, with heavy traffic to boot. I tried to listen to a podcast, but the rain was so heavy it made it hard to hear. All in all it was a very foreboding way to start the trip. You’re gonna have to hike through shit like this, you know. In the middle of the storm I saw a roadside sign announcing HEAVY RAIN AND WIND. Yes. Thanks.

Finally, the rain let up and eventually the traffic did too. I got the first glimpses of sunlight about a half an hour hour after the rain ended and it was a welcome sight. After that, it actually turned into a nice day and drive.

I stopped near the Junction of Routes 78 and 81 west of Allentown, PA for gas. The smell of manure was everywhere in the strong breeze. I let Birch out to go to the bathroom and she was just looking for excuses to alert on things. We were both a little amped up, truth be told.

While there, I noticed the crabapple trees about to bloom. By the time I got down to Virginia they were in full bloom, forsythia too.

We were treated to an amazing sunset along the Shenandoahs:

It was a bit strange to just be casually driving by places like this: does the trail go over this ridge? Will I make it back up here?

I rolled into Lexington, VA at around 8:00 PM, within striking distance of Georgia the next day. I realized that the back of my right heel was a little raw from all the driving; my trail runners are never pushed up against my ankle at an angle like that. It’s always the little things you don’t think of. I wasn’t exactly stoked to have given myself a potential blister before even getting on the trail. I taped up the area and would wear my camp sandals to drive the rest of the way.

The face of someone not entirely sure what he’s gotten himself into.

Sun 3/24: 1 Day Before Start

Birch woke me at 6:00 AM; it was still dark outside. This much farther west from Boston the sunrise and sunset are both shifted later. A quick breakfast at the hotel and then we headed out into what turned out to be a bright, sunny day.

As we headed further south I saw eastern redbuds starting to bloom everywhere. Daffodils popping up in the median. Honeysuckle leafing out, shoving everything else out of the way like it likes to do. The temps rose into the 60s as we moved on and then past 70 in northern Georgia.

We got to the hotel for our last evening and took a well-deserved break.

First thrown Frisbee of the trip: caught! And the second, and the third…

It was an incredibly surreal experience to be at the doorstep of this trip, so long-planned and yet so suddenly staring me right in the face. Staring very intently indeed. All the wondering, the thinking, the planning, the anticipation… we’re about to find out about all of it now, ain’t we?

I did what any sane, normal person would do: I did one last shakedown in the hotel room.

It was actually pretty helpful to refresh myself on some things with the tent. And no, I didn’t sleep in it in the hotel room.

But I thought about it.

Making sure the kitchen is running smoothly.

I repacked everything.

Tomorrow we’d start going for a very long walk.

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Comments 1

  • Chris : Apr 8th

    Lexington, VA is a cute town. I’ve been many times since one of my kids went to VMI. I-81 is a nice drive too, very scenic. It’s nice to see that you didn’t take 95 all the way down.

    Best of luck, I’ll be following along.


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