Week 23, Newport to Pearisburg, VA

I’m still hiking solo on the trail, but now I have another SOBO to hike with! The miles are starting to pick up and we’re still battling the weather. We’re not out of the cold yet!

 

Day 154 (8:30am  – 3:45pm, 12.6 miles, 45 degrees)

I had been hearing a turkey all day during my hike yesterday, and it seems this morning would be no different. As the sun peaked through the opening of the shelter, I was slowly awaken from my comfy slumber, with the gobble of this same turkey off in the distance. As I started to go theough my morning routine, Gap began to stir as well.

“Gap,” I whispered, knowing he was now awake, “do you hear the turkey?”

He laughed as he nodded his head, wiping the sleep dust away from his eyes.

The turkey continued to sing to us, slowly getting closer to the shelter, as I went through my morning routine. After a little while, I was nearly ready to go. All I needed to do was fill my water before hitting the trail. Gap wanted to know where the water was as well, so we both made our way down the blue blaze trail, leading us to the water source. As I was filling my water, Gap spotted something through the trees.

“Dori, do you see the wall over there?” He asked me.

I stood up and peered through the woods. There certainly was something over there.
We decided to investigate. What he had seen, and what I was looking at, were two different structures that were slowly being reclaimed by nature. It was very cool!

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After we had our fill of exploring, we made our way back to the shelter. With my water now full, I was ready to go. Gap was a little slower getting ready to roll out, so I bid him a temporary farewell and was on my way. I knew I’d see him at the next shelter anyways.

I slowly, very slowly, made my way back up the 0.4 mile ascent to get back to the AT. It felt like an eternity as I climbed up one enormous rock step after the next. Finally at the top, the AT was relatively flat and I picked up the pace. I was off! I flew across the ridge line, swerving in and out of giant piles of rocks. I have no idea why there were giant piles of rocks, and no one was able to help inform me, but they were neat none the less.

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I continued along the ridgeline, passing one enormous piling of rocks after the next. As I was looking around me, wondering what on earth the piles were for, I heard something up ahead. I looked up and saw a deer staring at me, a little ways down the trail. I was able to snap a quick picture before it pranced off into the woods.

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Finally, my ridge walk was over, as I started to make my descent down the mountain. Along the way, I passed a group of trail maintenance workers. I stopped and chatted with them for a little while. They did not know what the giant pile of rocks were either. After chatting with them for a while, I said farewell, thanking them for all the hard work they do, and continued along my way.

The trail wound down the mountain, making its way through the forest, until it opened into the rolling pastures of local farms. My path took me right into a cow patch. I was even able to see some calt. The livestock watched me closely as I made my way through their home.

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As I rounded the corner, and started to head into the woods again, I came across an enormous tree. I didn’t think much of it until I realized it had its own plaque! Apparently, this was the biggest oak in the south.

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The trail brought me through small sections of woods and large sections of open fields, each one different than the next. It was stunning! Small ruins of older building lay hidden in the trees. Every turn held a new discovery as I climbed up and down and around. The weather threatened to soak me occasionally, and I was forced to stop and put my raincoat on in the shelter of the forest, before braving the next section of field. Luckily, the weather held off long enough to snag some quick pictures of the beautiful country around me.

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Emerging through the last field of the day, I could barely make out some lawn art in the ravine. An old pick up truck lay half forgotten, rusted and planted where it lay. The earth slowly enveloped it as Mother Nature started to reclaim it as her own.

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Down the mountain, once again, I made my way. The path wound alongside a ridgeline, angled annoyingly to the right, causing my feet to ache in new places. One mountain pwth consisted of smooth terrain. The next proved to be much rockier. But on I continued.
Finally nearing the War Spur Shelter, my resting place for the night, I made my way through more rhododendron patches. These are some of my favorite sections of trail! They are beautiful, even when they are not in bloom. Water can also usually be found winding through the patches of rhododendrons, adding to the beauty.

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My trek today was beautiful, but it seems as though, recently, I have traveled through more burned sections of woods. I have not yet reached Gatlinburg, the part of the AT that was significantly burned last year, and already I’m hitting recent wild fire sections. I can only imagine what is to come as I continue to work my way south.

img_6889 I finally arrived at the shelter, where I found a couple, Ralph and Coyote, that were section hiking. I chatted with them for a while as I set up my gear in the shelter. Roughly 1 hour later, Gap arrived. He was also planning on staying in the shelter for the evening.

As the evening grew on, more hikers arrived. We met Johnny Tsunami, Blueberry, and Red Mage; three NOBOs. As they all set up their sleeping arrangements, Gap and I got to know them.

“What’s your trailname?” Johnny Tsumami asked me.

“I’m Dori, like the fish from Finding Nemo.”

“Dori! I’ve heard about you!” He exclaimed.

I looked at him with a stunned expression. Who did I know that was ahead of me!

“I hear you’re hilarious!”

Well there’s no pressure there! I was not able to figure out who had known me, but at least what Johnny Tsunami had heard wasn’t bad.

Blueberry, I learned, was a recent graduate of RIT! What a small world! We chatted about our shared alma matter, and I also learned he was an American Sign Language interpreter! He was a CODA! No way!

While the four of us were getting to know one another, Blueberry sharing tons of hilarious stories that had all of us in stitches, Red Mage was setting up his gear in the shelter. I vaguely watched him as I was laughing, listening to Blueberry. Red Mage was standing in the shelter when he suddenly lost his balance and started to tumble, backwards, out of the shelter! Gracefully, he quickly grabbed a hold of one of the wood pillars and somehow managed to spin himself around and land sitting on the edge of the shelter. Realizing he had been seen, he sat down, as if this whole stunt was planed, as we all started to crack up uncontrollably. Between Red Mage’s stunt, and Blueberry’s side spliting stories, my abs had one heck of a workout that evening.

As night fell, we took our laughter somewhere away from the shelter, allowing others to sleep, and enjoyed more stories around a small camp fire. But eventually, it was time for all of us to retire for the evening, as one by one we said goodnight and crept into our sleeping bags. Another wonderful evening with fantastic people. Tomorrow, we must say goodbye to our new friends.

The NOBOs we crossed today (the ones I got trailnames for at least)

  • Young Chief
  • Blueberry
  • Johnny Tsunami
  • Red Mage

 

Day 155 (8:40am – 3:30pm, 11.3 miles, 50 degrees)

I woke this morning and tried to gather my belongings as quietly as possible. It is nearly impossible to silently slip from a sleeping bag when you are so close to the people around you. One by one, everyone slowly emerged from their sleeping bags as the noises around them, and the sun peeping into the shelter, woke them from their slumber.

Once everyone was awake, no longer needing to remain quiet, I quickly went through my morning routine. Each day I am getting back into the swing of things and working through my routine quicker and quicker. In no time, I was ready to start my day. Gap still had more of his routine to attend to, so I bid him a temporary farewell once again.

“See you somewhere on the trail,” I shouted to Gap as I was making my way out of camp.

Jokingly he replied, “and that’s the last time Gap ever saw Dori,” as we realized he would most likely not catch me until the next shelter.

Today was a beautiful day to hike! The temperatures were not too warm, and the sun was shining brightly in the sky. I had a long climb ahead of me this morning, but once on top, it would be ridgewalking and then a final descent. Not too bad for a days hike!

Up and up I went, ascending what felt like an endless climb. I frequently took breaks, catching my breath and allowing my muscles to relax. With one last push, I finally completed my ascent.  Now it’s time for an even bigger break!  I threw my pack to the ground and took out my snacks.  This should help get me through the rest of my day! I also took a moment to take a picture of the beautiful view.
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Now on a sugar high, I was ready to continue my hike across the ridge. I hoisted my pack onto my back and was off down the trail. Gap and I had originally planned on meeting at the Pine Swamp Branch Shelter, but as I made my way across the ridge, passing several NOBOs along the way, many of them highly recommended the Captain’s Place. But I had heard the zip line to get to Captain’s Place was shut down due to the high water levels. How would I get there?

Eventually I crossed paths with a NOBO named Cool Hands. He told me of another way to get to Captain’s Place, making my way down a road. He gave me very specific directions and I did my best to remember them, jotting down notes on my phone. I thanked him for the directions and continued on my journey across the ridge.

As lunch time approached, I leaned myself up against a tree. The more I thought about it, the more I thought going to the Captains Place was a good idea. I could charge my electronics there, which were all just about dead, and I could get a free soda! Why not! That’s it! I made up my mind! I’m going to the Captains Place! Now I just have to get that message to Gap. But how? I know he doesn’t get great reception on the trail since he has AT&T. I’ll just wait here for him.

So I sat against the tree and ate my lunch. Then I snacked. Then I waited. And waited. And waited. No sign of Gap. I tried to send him a text with the directions.  I hope he gets that! But if he doesn’t, then what?

After waiting for 1 hour, I had to get moving. I gathered my gear and put on my pack once more. What’s that? Something white glistened in the sunlight close to where I had been sitting. Upon inspection I realized it was an antler from a deer! Cool! I picked it up, wondering if I would be able to send it home. Nah, it’s too big. And what would I do with it? Then it hit me. Maybe I can attach a note to this and leave it for Gap! There’s no way he would miss that!

Quickly I dropped my pack once again and pulled out some paper and a pen. I jotted a quick note, with directions, wrote  Gap SOBO 2016 on the front, then attached it to the antler and placed the antler directly on the trail. There’s NO WAY he can miss that!

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Satisfied that the message would get to Gap, I lifted my pack onto my back once again and was on my way. The trail grew incredibly rocky, reminding me of Rocksylvania, for roughly 1 mile. Then it smoothed out again as I made my way towards the Bailey Gap Shelter. I was making great time. I decided to stop at the shelter for another snack and a quick break. Maybe Gap will catch me here?

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After a little while, there was still no sign of Gap, so I pushed on. I’ll wait for him again before I turn down the road to go to Captain’s Place. Down the trail I went, making my way through more rhododendrons that hung across the trail like a green archway. They provided beauty and some shade from the boiling sun.

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The rhododendron tunnel continued all the way until the road. It was so beautiful and cool. I decided to sit against my pack, under the shade provided by the tunnel, and waited for Gap some more. Quickly, I fell asleep, but still listening for the unmistakable sound of clinking trekking poles. No such sound ever came. Eventually, I stirred awake, and decided I’d make my way to the Captain’s Place. Hopefully Gap finds me there!

I walked down the road for what felt like a mile, until finally, I found the home that Cool Hands had described perfectly. His directions were exact! Two dogs barked and greeted me as I walked down the driveway.  Doesn’t look like anyone is home!  The one dog was very over zealous and required direct attention and petting, or else! So I provided him with all the love and attention I could muster, until I was allowed to pass.

I was not sure where to set up my tent, so I walked around the back of the house and found my way to the porch where the free sodas, wifi, and charging station were. After changing into my comfortable crocs, I planted myself in a chair, with a delicious soda, and waited the arrival of Gap and Captain. Meanwhile, the over zealous puppy demanded more attention. I willingly complied.

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Eventually, Captain arrived, chatting with me for a bit and showing me where I could set up my tent. Shortly after, Gap arrived! He, luckily, had gotten my text, but somehow, never found the note or the antler! We caught up as we charged our electronics, set up our tents, hung our wet gear, and cooked our dinner for the night. Captain joined us, chatting and sharing his knowledge of the area as we ate. Eventually it was time for bed, so Captain said goodnight and we crawled into our tents. Tonight, I fall asleep to the sound of the roaring water. It is incredibly peaceful!

The NOBOs we crossed today (the ones I got trailnames for at least)

  • Cool Hands
  • Impala
  • Spicy Girl

 

Day 156 (9:30am – 3:30pm, 13.9 miles, 55 degrees)

As I lay in the middle of a grassy field, the sun made its way into my tent, poking at my eyes. We have a huge climb today so I best get a move on!  I rubbed the sleep dust from my eyes and slowly, and quietly, made my way out of my tent. My rain fly had collected some condensation so my first order of business was to hang that to dry.

I quickly packed all my gear and broke down my tent, hanging the rain fly and the foot print in the sun. As I was starting to cook breakfast, Gap emerged from his tent.

“Darn it Dori,” he said as he crawled out of his tent. “I thought I beat you awake this morning.”

We both laughed as he started to break down his tent. Eventually, we were both ready to go. The Captain had unlocked the zip line and gave us the ok to go across the river today. This should be good! We inspected the pulley system, figuring out how it worked before we decided to give it a try. I would be the test dummy. Just don’t fall in Dori!

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We had decided that in order to work the pulley, I would have to sit on the swing with my pack on my back, then carabiner my pack to the swing and pull myself across. No big deal. Simple. Just don’t fall in Dori!

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Slowly I made my way. Half way across! No turning back now! Keep those feet up! You’re getting close to the water! As I started to get closer to the far bank, I realized an important fact we had overlooked; we had to pull ourselves up hill to get to the bank! That’s a little tougher! Not that any of this was easy in the first place!

I wrapped my hand around the rope, carefully balancing myself on the swing, trying my best not to jerk myself right into the river below me. Finally, dry and without incident, I made it safely to the other side. Phew! Now it was Gap’s turn! Oh and did I mention, he weighs just a bit heavier than me!

After I had dismounted the swing and untangled myself (something that took a few minutes to accomplish, I might add), Gap pulled the swing back to him and carefully hooked himself up. Off he went, the swing dipping significantly lower and closer to the water. As he neared the halfway point, I suddenly realized he was about to get wet! His feet were about to submerge!

“Gap,” I hollered, “Lift your feet!”

Quickly he picked up his feet, just as the soles nicked the water. He pulled and pulled and finally he made it safe and dry across the river as well. Our arms tired from pulling, and our stomachs tired from laughing, we put our packs back on our backs and made our way up the AT once more, hollering a big thank you and farewell to The Captain who had just made his way outside. What an experience!

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Our day, today, would start with a gradual ascent to a shelter that was closed down due to dead and fallen trees from gypsy moths. Then, we would climb a steep, and long, ascent to the ridgeline. From there, our day would be fairly flat as we traverse the ridge to the Rice Field Shelter. The weather report called for a chance of rain and thunder showers and the temperatures in the 60s. We should be ok today.

So up we went, stopping for a brief break at the Pine Swamp Shelter. A NOBO, Kiwi, informed us of several downed trees we would encounter during our climb, including one that fell directly on the trail. Why not add a little more challenge to our already challenging day!

Up the climb we went. Gap and I struggled up the mountain together, breaking every now and then to catch our breath and allow our legs to recover, before starting back up once more. Gap laughed at me as my tiny little legs struggled to get over huge downed trees, while I laughed at him as he struggled to get his Goliath sized body folded under downed trees. Finally, we arrived at the downed tree that Kiwi had warned us about! Now what!

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I led the way as I twisted and wound my way through the branches, creeping through with the agility of a tiny little mouse. Quickly, I had emerged on the other side. I continued down the trail and turned to see Gap still blundering his way through the branches. I laughed as he finally emerged through the branches, like an ox trying to dance around precariously balanced swords.

We took another quick break, me to catch my breath from laughing, and Gap to catch his breath from fighting the downed tree. Eventually, we arrived at the top. Time to take a lunch break! We both sat and chatted as we quickly ate our lunch for the day. As we enjoyed our nice break, the winds started to kick up and the temperatures dropped. I put on my rain gear and the rain cover on my pack, knowing a storm was coming. I quickly packed my gear and was ready to go. Gap was not ready yet, so I told him I’d see him at the shelter as I took off down the trail. There were still at least 10 miles to go before we reached the shelter. I had to get moving!

As I started down the trail, the trees creaked and moaned above me, the winds picking up speed with every step I took. With so much dead wood around me, I watched the tree line carefully, hoping none of the giant beasts would come tumbling down on my head. I stopped only briefly for a quick picture before I took off in a near jog through the woods.

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I kept my pace up, even though my legs began to grow weak.  This was not a safe place to stop! The trees rocked like rubber bands in the wind as I flew through the woods. After many miles, I broke through the forest, running into an open field, threw my pack on the ground, and sat down on it for a well deserved, and much needed break. After a few swigs of water, rain drops slowly began to fall. Best get moving again! There’s still at least 6 miles to go. But I was able to snag another quick photo before I was forced to jog down the trail once more.

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After my quick photo, the rain started to fall in buckets. And it did not stop. I continued my jog through the woods, now unable to stop due to hypothermia becoming a realistic risk. The rain poured down in waves, the wind chilling my soaked bones to my core, as I raced through the woods. Someone had warned me that the Rice Field Shelter sometimes opens in the wrong direction, and the rain can be blown into the shelter. If that’s the case, I’m pushing the extra 7 miles straight into Pearisburg!

I huffed and puffed, and my legs screamed with exhaustion, but I could not stop, not even for a second. The rain didn’t let up one bit as the waves of rain and wind continued to pummel me. Just keep going, you’re getting closer. I started to repeat a mantra over and over in my head, keeping time with every step like a rhythmic prayer. Please let me get to the shelter. Please let it be dry. Please let me get to the shelter. Please let it be dry.

One mile flew by after the next as I repeated my mantra, my mind set on one thing; getting out of the rain and getting warm! Finally I was within a mile. Then a half mile. Then only a few hundred feet. My eyes scanned the horizon, desperately searching for the shelter sign that would lead me down the blue blazed trail to the shelter. Finally, it appeared through the fog and rain! I quickly turned to follow the blue blazed trail, hoping the Shelter faced the right way and was empty. Today must be my lucky day for both we’re true! I quickly dropped my pack and threw my belongings in the dry shelter, being careful to make sure nothing became wet. I rifled through my gear until I found my dry night clothes. With no one in sight, and the clothes I was wearing threatening to throw me into hypothermia, I stripped as fast as I could and threw on my dry clothes. Then I quickly set up my sleeping arrangement, grabbed my food, and snuggled into my sleeping bag, munching on snacks and watching the rain continue to pour down outside.

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Now slowly warming up, and out of danger, I started to worry about Gap. I hope he arrives soon! Sure enough, within an hour, he came running down the trail as well. He was just as soaked as I had been, and just as cold, and had the same idea I did; if the shelter was facing the wrong way, he, too, was going to push to town.

He quickly threw on his dry gear as well, as I respectfully drew my attention elsewhere, and before long he, too, was snuggled in his sleeping bag. We chatted about the day, ranting about the weather. 60 they said! Showers they said! Ha! Try torrential downpour and 40s at best!

As we went on about our day, two more hikers came running up to the shelter. Their names were Suntory and Alan, and they were section hikers. Section hikers! You mean you chose to hike in this weather! I was stunned!

We chatted with our shelter mates, and got to know them as the evening drew on. The rain slowed and eventually stopped as we all got ready for bed. Now dry and warm, we all said goodnight and slept soundly. What a day! Tomorrow, at least, we’ll be in town!

The NOBOs we crossed today (the ones I got trailnames for at least)

  • Kiwi

 

Day 157 (8:37am – 12pm, 6.9 miles, 55 degrees)

Today is promising to be better than yesterday, but another storm will be coming soon, with the potential for snow! We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

We all slowly awoke and began to gather our belongings. We have a short hike into town today, so Gap and I were not in a massive rush. We have reservations with Neville and Michael at Woods Hole Hostel today and will have to somehow find a ride there.

Gap actually beat me out of the shelter today. He said goodbye to our new friends and took off down the trail. I was close behind him. I followed the blue blazed trail back towards the AT, cresting an enormous hill. The view was beautiful! Yesterday, this was completely covered with fog, clouds, and thick buckets of rain. Today was much better!

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Of I ran down the trail, eager to refill my now low levels of water. I raced down the mountain, quickly catching up to Gap, filling his water at the first water source. After I filled my water, we traversed the rest of our descent together, chatting as we went. Eventually we made our way down to the road and started heading towards town. Gap had been dreaming of going to Pizza Plus, a pizza restaurant that offered all you could eat pizza from the hours of 11-2, for a long time. We were going to make it there in time!

We had a huge hill to road walk up, so we threw out our thumbs, hoping to catch a ride to town. Within minutes, a local pulled over and offered us a ride. We climbed into his truck and were off. In a matter of minutes, what would have taken us closer to half an hour, he dropped us off at Pizza Plus. Starving hikers like we were, we hiked into the restaurant and ate until we could not take another bite! I ate at least one whole pizza. Gap had at least 3!

Once we were fat and happy, we called Neville at the Woods Hole Hostel to see if we could get picked up. She gave us the number of a local shuttle driver and we scheduled a pick up to be taken to Woods Hole. After a short while, we were at our destination for the evening.
Woods Hole Hostel, a little slice of heaven tucked away remotely in the woods, is run by Neville and her husband, Michael. It is different than most hostels for a few reasons. For one, she offers a communal dinner and breakfast and everyone helps in the setup, preparation, and cleanup of the meals. It is a wonderful experience and the meals are truly amazing! The other unique aspect that makes her hostel stand out from the rest is a hiker trail magic jar she has created. This jar is for anyone that wants to provide trail magic in the form of finances for future thru hikers that may be on a budget and cannot afford the communal dinner and breakfast. As someone that is in that scenario, I thank Neville and anyone who has ever helped with that jar! I look forward to the day I, too, can donate to that jar!

So with our bunks claimed and our belongings in place, we spent the remainder of the day doing our wash, getting clean, chatting with all the other hikers, rifling through our resupplies, and helping prepare the meal for the evening. Once dinner was ready, we all gathered in the kitchen, holding hands, introducing ourselves and mentioning something we were thankful for. Now acquainted, we all sat around the tables and ate the delicious meal, chatting, joking, and getting to know each other a little better. What a wonderful evening!

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There’s a big snow storm that is supposed to come into town within the next few days, so tomorrow, we will catch a ride to Pearisburg and zero at the Angels Rest hostel. The Natural, someone I had hiked with in Pennsylvania, is helping out there. I look forward to seeing him again!

The NOBOs we crossed today (the ones I got trailnames for at least)

  • Clean
  • Chocolate Rain
  • Sarlac
  • Highlighter
  • Cheep Sunglasses
  • Bear
  • Bright Side
  • Butterfeet
  • Lucky Charm
  • Nameless
  • Nutshoe

 

Day 158 (time – who cares, 0 miles, doesn’t matter degrees)

Neville offered to give Gap and I a ride to Pearisburg today, so we made sure our gear was gathered and were ready to go when she was. Once she was ready to go, we placed our packs in her car and were off. She dropped us off at a gas station, wishing us luck on the remainer of our journey, and we thanked her for her wonderful hospitality and the ride. We walked the rest of the way to Angels Rest Hostel.

The weather was supposed to be miserable today, so we hoped to be able to do a work for stay for the night. A work for stay is when you exchange labor, usually a few hours worth of work, for a free stay. A sign and spray painted AT logos helped us find our way to the hostel.

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As we were getting close, The Natural started walking towards us.

“Natural,” Gap and I shouted.

He looked at us, somewhat bewildered, for a moment.

“It’s Dori and Gap,” I shouted to him. “We hiked with you somewhere in Pennsylvania last year.”

Slowly, recognition spread across his face as he started to remember us. He turned and walked with us as we caught up with him and asked if a work for stay was possible. He informed us he had some yard work that needed to be done, and we were more than happy to oblige. He only wanted us to work for a few hours so I decided the sooner the better. After all, the storm would be rolling in later that day.

We got ourselves set up for the evening and settled in for the day. After about an hour, I was ready to start the work for stay. The Natural showed us the area he wanted us to clear out. It was filled with briars and all sorts of other weeds. He gave us gloves and tools and told us to have at. We had quite a task ahead of us, but we started chopping and tearing the plants from the ground, creating piles that could be burned and those that could not. We laughed as we worked, enjoying the sun and the work. Before we knew it, our work was done and it was time for lunch.

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With our work done for the day, I finally showered and threw on some loaner clothes. The rest of the day was spent by hanging out, laughing and chatting with the other hikers, working on my blog, and catching up with The Natural. It was a wonderful day. The gang we had hung out with at Woods Hole Hostel arrived later that day as well and we got to get to know them a littler better.

Eventually, Gap and I decided to get some dinner and made our way to a local Mexican restaurant. The food was excellent and we stayed for quite a while before finally making our way back to the hostel.

Even though the weather was supposed to be miserable today, the sun was shining and the rain and snow held off. Tomorrow, however, will be a different story. So we’ll stay one more day before we push on again.

The NOBOs we crossed today (the ones I got trailnames for at least)

  • Chris
  • Dan
  • John
  • Jiberish
  • Moonshine

 

Day 159 (time – whatever, 0 miles, a little colder degrees)

We woke with snow falling outside. Guess it was a good idea to take one last zero today! We had some more work to do today, so, after looking at the weather report, I picked a few hours between the storm.

Once the storm cleared, Gap and I were back at it, chopping and pulling, yanking and sorting. Troy, another NOBO we had met, helped by burning one of the piles of debris, occasionally laughing at whatever silly antic we were doing at the time. At least we were having fun!

With our work complete, and quite a lot of progress made, we were done for the day and had the rest of the day to spend watching movies and hanging out with our fellow hikers.
Tomorrow, we will slackpack to Woods Hole Hostel, collect our gear, and continue on our way. Or at least, that’s the plan.

The NOBOs we crossed today (the ones I got trailnames for at least)

  • Nemo
  • Troy and his dog Gambit
  • Don Quixote

 

Day 160 (10:45 – 3:45pm, 11.6 miles, 45 degrees)

Today, we roll out with all our new hiking friends. They will continue their journey north, we will be slackpacking south to Woods Hole Hostel. The plan is to collect our gear and continue on our way, but we’ll see what time we get there.

We gathered our belongings and packed everything into the van. Troy’s dog, Gambit, played with his new friend while we all got ready to leave. After playtime, Gambit decided to come and say hi to me. Only one last thing to do, sign the van.

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With everyone now ready to roll, we all squeezed into the van and were on our way to the trail head. We stopped for some quick breakfast sandwiches, then Gap and I were dropped off at one trailhead while the others went to another trailhead. We thanked The Natural for everything and said goodbye to our NOBO friends. We’d be seeing them again soon when we cross ways on the trail.

Snow glistened on the mountain tops as we made our way to the trail head. We are starting our day with a HUGE climb! But at least we get to slackpack it! At the base of the mountain, the flowers were blooming on either side of the trail; a beautiful collage of colors amongst the greens.

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As we climbed higher and higher, the mixes of colors faded to shades of brown and white as we started to reach snow. The higher we went, the deeper the snow became. Eventually, the snow covered the trail. It was beautiful!

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As I finally reached the top of the huge climb, Angels Rest, the critters decided to creep from the warmth of their pack for a quick photo opportunity. But only for a minute. It was still pretty cold out there!

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The rest of my walk was a ridge walk with some really beautiful views! Luckily, the weather was decent and we were able to stay warm. I finally made it to Woods Hole Hostel, but there was no sign of Gap. I had lost him during the climb.

I made the descent down to the hostel and decided I would wait for Gap before deciding to move on. I chatted with Neville for a while, as well as some of the other hikers, but still no Gap. Midnight, one of Neville’s cats; snuggled with me as I sat by the fire, drying and warming up from the cold outside. As the day grew on, the temperatures started to drop. Midnight stayed snuggled on my chest, purring and drooling, as I waited for Gap.

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After a little over an hour, he showed up! If we wanted to continue on for the day, we’d potentially be doing some night hiking and the temperatures would continue to drop. After some discussion, we decided we’d spend the night and push on tomorrow.

Amongst good company and dry and warm, we spent the remainder of the night chatting with the other hikers and Neville. I learned that Doc, one of the other NOBOs was a graduate of The Pingry High School, the same school that I graduated from! What a small world!

As night grew on, we all retired to our beds for the evening. What another great evening! Neville is a saint for everything she does! She is definitely one of the friendliest, awesome, most hospitable people I know! Thank you Neville for everything!

The NOBOs we crossed today (the ones I got trailnames for at least)

Sweet Cheeks
Downward Cow
Gaiter
Doc
Tunes
Sun Seeker (flipflopper)

 

 

We’ve survived more winter, hopefully the last for our hike, and we’ve made it through another town. Soon we’ll be crossing our quarter left mark! Before we know it, the miles will be shedding off by the hundreds! Check in next time and as always. . .

Happy Hiking!

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Jamie  Marsden

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