Sunday, May 03, 2009

LaurelCreek to Helveys Mill Shelter

Sunday, 5/3

AT Miles = 9.2 / 585.3
Other Miles =] 3 / 24.2
Total iles = 12.2 / 609.5

I went to bed last night and searched for something to listen to on the radio. I was camped way down in a low gap, and I could get only two FM stations, nothing on AM, and some Spanish language stuff on the shortwave bands. So my choices were either Christian evangelization, or NASCAR. I chose NASCAR and listened to the something-or-other 400 for a couple of hours.

I woke up this morning at 6:30 to the sound of a steady rain on the tarp. I decided to try to wait it out and snoozed on and off until 8:00AM. It was still raining, but not as heavily. I got up, packed my gear, ate a Pop-Tart, and set off to hike the 7 miles to Rt 52. I felt so much better than yesterday! The 7 miles flew by in less than 2 1/2 hours. When I reached the road I wasn't sure exactly which road was 52 and I wasted a bit of time walking up this road and down that one, but I finally saw a woman getting out of her car in front of a small church and she confirmed wqhich road would take me to Bland, where I needed to go to buy food and stove fuel for the next three days.

It is 2 1/2 miles down the mountain into town. I walked about a half mile or so before I managed to get a ride the rest of the way. My driver pointed out where the grocery store was, then dropped me off at the Subway as I requested. Yummy! That was good.

I left the Subway and walked back into the center of town where the grocery store is, and did my shopping. My guidebook says that Bruce's Market sells stove fuel by the ounce, but when I asked the clerk had no idea what I was talking about. Uh oh. So now I had food for the next three days, but no way to cook it. I was down to about 1/2 ounce of stove alcohol, so I couldn't leave town until I found some fuel somewhere.

There is a NAPA Auto Parts store across the street from the market, but they were closed on Sunday. Then I tried the Citgo station around the corner and they had Heet gas-line antifreeze, which is nothing more then methyl alcohol and makes great stove fuel. Saved!

I made one last stop at the bank to get some cash at the ATM so I won't have to worry about that chore when I get to Pearisburg, then I headed out of town and back up towards the trail. For whatever reason, I couldn't get a ride on the way back and had to walk the entire 2 1/2 uphill miles back to the trail. Why wouldn't somebody want a smelly wet hiker and all his smelly wet gear in their car? Right, I don't know either.

So I got out of town and hiked a few miles into the woods to this shelter. This makes a rather short day but looking at the book there is no place with water for the next ten miles, and I got here too late to try to add another ten miles onto my day. That being the case, I will hang my hammock out behind the shelter tonight. It is nice to be camped at a shelter so I can get in out of the rain to write this enail, and to cook dinner and do other chores.

I am thinking about buying a bigger tarp for my hammock, so that it will no only keep my dry when I am sleeping, but also provide enough covered area so I can cook aqnd eat. I lie being able to camp between shelters as the shelters are not always spaced a convenient distance apart, but lately every time I do I end up skipping breakfast because I am not willing to squat in the rain and cook.

If you want a laugh, go online and check the extended forecast for Pearisburg, VA. I have been wet for three days now, and it looks like there is no end in sight. I dream of being dry.

I should be in Pearisburg on Wednesday. I have a lot of mail waiting for me there, and I plan to take a day off. I'll go to the laundry and get everything clean and dry. Simple pleasures.

So Ken, I was a manly man last night and slept out in the rain instead of going to the motel. What have you been up to?

Allen Freeman


Anju Freeman said...

hey dad,

i checked the weather forecast for Pearisburg, VA. it's supposed to be in the mid 60's to 70's and rain all week until sunday..So keep on being dry!

love anju

TD Mehlman said...

Okay. I have a question. When I got my latest camp stove, I got one that would burn either regular stove fuel or unleaded gasoline straight from the pump. I got this stove mostly as a backup for power outages, so I wasn't too worried about weight although it is a backpack stove -- not a traditional camp stove. Was weight a limiting factor in not making this choice for your stove? It seems like the flexibility in obtaining fuel would have made sense if all else was equal.


Allen Freeman said...

Fuel: Both white gas and alcohol are commonly available along the AT. White gas packs more BTUs per volume/weight than alcohol, but the heavy container used because the fuel must be pressurized makes gas actually heavier to carry for short periods of time. Since I resully every few days alcohol ends up being the lighter option. I carry an 8 oz alcohol bottle and that can last over a week. Also, in cases like this day's when fuel was not available by the ounce, I can always stop by a gas station and buy a bottle of yellow Heet to use. It's a bit wasteful as I don't need 12 oz, but I can usually find someone else who needs some alcohol.