Back on the Trail After a Zero Day
By 8 on Monday morning I was in the shuttle vehicle with Pilgrim and we were on our way back up to the James River trailhead.
It is not an easy thing to get back onto the trail after a break. You know what is ahead of you is a lot of difficult walking with a lot of weight on your back.
In this case the trail led up from the James River along this creek for about a mile before leaving it to get into some more serious climbing.
The climb was steady and I couldn’t help but think about that great hamburger I ate for lunch yesterday and the spaghetti that I ate for supper. I really wanted to be excited about these rocks and who Fuller might have been but they weren’t doing much for me.
The James River Below
The great thing about thinking about hamburgers and spaghetti is that for a moment you actually forget about the agony and weight of the climb.
Suddenly you’ll reach and an open area and realize just how far you have managed to climb. The picture above is as far as I got thinking about a great slice of onion on my burger and reviewing my skill of rolling my spaghetti on a fork and large spoon.
Friday and Saturday’s Hike
Climbing over Apple Orchard Mountain and Highcock Knob were certainly in my past but they sure were not forgotten!
See? I’m Getting Higher!
I really wanted to get more than 15 miles under my belt on this day. By here I was passing Little Rocky Row which I’m sure was placed here to challenge Vert T. Go. 15 was going to be a reach.
The James River below was becoming smaller. A measurement of progress.
Thorn Hill Mountain; Big and Little House
The climb had been forever. Thoughts of the food that had carried me up the mountain were becoming a distant memory when I stopped at 1:13 PM (13:13) to catch my breath. I needed a distraction. Suddenly it hit me…. I had a distraction on my phone called Peak Finder. Perfect! You tap the icon, allow the app to figure out where it is, press the North arrow locator, spin the phone in a figure eight for a moment to make the phone get rid of any bad thoughts it might have had about where it was and voila!!!!! The mountains would be identified. In the case above we are looking toward California (West) and see closest to the camera Thorn Hill Mountain, and beyond Thorn Hill are two mountains called Big House and Little House. They must be rectangular.
Poor Little Ottie Cline Powell
I had reached the peak of Cole Mountain and it was not a moment too soon. At the peak was this plaque commemorating the exact location where they found the body of 4 year old Ottie Powell in 1891. I found myself standing there thinking in today’s society we would be dissecting every possibility of what could have happened to include foul play. Back then sadly a little boy wandered off and became lost.
The Remnants of a Fire Tower
Just beyond the plaque were the remains of a fire tower. I checked my hike app. Multiple people had reported a copperhead living under the concrete steps. Too cold for him today.
Sink the Bismarck
Before me from the tower was a long ridge top. I could bump out some mileage. I put it in gear and soon found myself singing Sink the Bismarck. It was fast pace like my steps. It seemed appropriate for walking flat ground and it had a rapid beat. I just had to be careful to not “turn the guns around” cuz that would have triggered Vert T. Go. “We found the mighty Bismarck and then we cut her down”
By the time I finished singing it a zillion times I had hiked past Punch Bowl Shelter and was working my way down to a reservoir and and place to camp.
A 800 Mile Marker I Never It To in 2018
As I descended I suddenly saw on the ground the marker that I hoped to reach in 2018. I was standing on the 800 mile marker from Springer in Georgia. That would mean that I had now hiked 940 miles of the AT.
I could hear the river below. If I could reach the suspension bridge I’d have completed 15 miles. Suddenly I saw someone standing along the trail snacking. His trail name is Feral and evidently relates to being an unclaimed domestic cat. My understanding is that he actually has two cars which he uses to shuttle himself up and down the AT.
Finally the Bridge
The mountain finally flattened. The creek fed into a reservoir. I sat on one of the steps to charge my phone. I really wanted more miles. The decision was made to hike around the reservoir. It added another 2.7 miles. I had to average 15.4 miles for 5 days in order to meet Jeff and Martine at the Shenandoah National Park. This would definitely help the average mileage needs.
Time to Collapse
I put up the tent in dusk and cooked in the dark. The final mileage was 17.7 …… a good day although at many points in the day it didn’t seem so. My body ached and I couldn’t wait to curl up on the soft hard ground. The morning promised lots of up. Let’s not think about that now…. tomorrow would be soon enough to “hike on”.