Sunday, May 03, 2009

Campsite at Pond Near Chestnut Knob to Campsite at Laurel Creek

Satrurday, 5/2

AT Miles = 16.6 / 576.1
Other Miles = 0 / 21.2
Total Miles = 16.6 / 597.3

So, a miserable day. It had to happen sooner or later, I guess. There is no special reason why this day should have been such a negative experience, but it was.

The sky stayed dry until after I went to bed last night. I woke up around 11:00 or so to the sound of rain, but rain at night while I am tucked snug in my hammock is no big deal. What is a big deal is the dense fog that rolled in after the rain stopped. Boy, how I hate that fog. I blows through my hammock and gets everything wet. It condenses inside the undercover, which then gets the bottom insulation wet. It condenses on my sleeping baga, making that wet. It condenseson the netting on my hammock, and it condenses on the underside of the tarp. Since the hammock gets rolled up inside the tarp for packing, that just makes the hammock even more wet.

So I woke up in a foul mood. It was raining when I got up, so instead of making breakfast I packed up and planned to hike the two miles to Chestnut Knob Shelter then cook breakfast there. I hiked through the dense fog until I got to Chestnut Knob. As I approached a hiker was just returning to the shelter, I presume from fetching water. I said "Good morning" and he looked at me, said nothing, then walked into the shelter and closed the door. I don't know what that was about, but it seemed like something my day would be better without, so instead of stopping I continued on down the trail.

It was foggy and the rain continued on and off all morning, so I stopped briefly to eat a couple of Pop-Tarts, a candy bar, and some gorp, and pushed on until I reached Jenkins Shelter, at about 12 miles, around 12:30. I was feeling beat so boiled enough water for a couple of cups of tea, and to make the instant oatmeal I should have eaten this morning. Once I consumed that, I started in on lunch. I spent a good hour and a half eating and sipping tea, and was starting to feel a little bit more optimistic.

I toyed with the idea of pushing the next 12 miles to Rt. 52 and hitching into Bland so I could spend the night at the motel, but two things stopped me. First, there was no way I had 24 miles in my legs today. Second, I know this would disappoint Ken and I couldn't stand to lower myself in his esteem. So I stuyck with my original plan and hiked on another 5 miles or so to this spot at Laurel Creek where I am camped. It's a nice spot, except that it is right next to a road. I can't be seen from the road, but I hear cars go by every half hour or so. That makes me a bit nervous. I have a (not so) hard and fast rule never to camp next to a road, but accordning to my book there isn't another place to get water or to camp between here and Bland. What's a boy to do?

So I set up my hammock back behind a thicket of rhododendron. Like last night, I am fortunate that the rain has held off while I set up camp, washed my hair and took a bandanna bath, cooked and ate dinner, and now while I sit and write this. Soon I will pack everything up and climb into my hammock with my radio and my book. Maybe I will be fortunate like last night, and there will be something interesting to listen to. Last night I listened to some great jazz on an NPR station. But tonight I am down in a hole so I might not be so lucky. There is no phone reception here so this isn't going to get sent until tomorrow at least.

Oh, at one point this morning I was hiking up and down every stupid bump on Chestnut Ridge, and I passed a sign that said "VIEW." In my foul mood I said "@#$%^ VIEW" rather loudly, then a moment later four local day hikers rounded the corner in front of me. If they had heard me, they were nice enough not to let on. We chatted for a few minutes, and that did more than anything else today to help me cope with my bad mood.

Here's hoping tomorrow morning is dry. I have seven miles to hike to the road, then I'll hitch into Bland to shop and the grocery store, and hopefully to get lunch at the Subway in town. After I hitch back to the trail it is only three miles further on to the next shelter. That's my goal for tomorrow. Then on Wednesday I should get to Pearisburg where I have a bunch of maikl waiting. I plan to take a zero day there.

Allen Freeman

1 comment:

Ken Williamson said...

Glad to see that I have had a positive affect on creating a more manly man hiking experience for you. Perhaps you can pick up some Marlboros at the next town. So you know, the rule of thumb is 11 per day and there are 20 to a pack. Baggies work well to keep 'em dry and is a good place to store the spent ones.

As for me I have just been working and riding when I can. We took the tandem on a metric Sunday and was impressed with our performance as we have so few miles this season. Bought a new half-bike, C'dale F4 MTB. Its going to rain tomorrow but in honor of your hiking in the rain I will take it into the woods for a spin.

Next time you have bad day on the trail let me tell you about my office.......