9/7/17 Destination: Rice Field Shelter, VA – Miles Hiked Today 25.3
Beaker had a long day planned, setting him up for a Nero (near zero) hike into Pearisburg on Friday. Although there were two pretty good climbs on the agenda, the majority of the hike was along ridge lines. The weather was great for hiking – cool and sunny.
The hike was pretty uneventful. Beaker didn’t see anyone on the trail all morning. After lunch, he met three women who were doing a southbound section hike. They had stopped to take a break at the shelter. After visiting awhile, Beaker started the long climb up to the Peter’s Mountain ridge line. He passed through a couple of old farm fields along the ridge, complete with apple trees – he ate his fill of the small tart apples. After a long day of hiking, Beaker finally arrived at the Shelter around 7:00. There were five other hikers at the shelter. They had already finished dinner and were settling in for the evening when he arrived, so Beaker set up his tent close to the shelter for the night.
Tomorrow’s journey hopes to be a short 8 mile hike down off the ridge, across the New River, and into Pearisburg, VA. The plan is for his brother Kenny to pick him up and take him to his house in Lewisburg, WV, for the night.
9/8/17 Destination Miller House, Lewisburg, WV. Miles Today – 7.8
It was breezy and only 43 degrees when Beaker woke up at 7:00. Getting out from underneath his warm quilt was tough. Once on the trail, the hike was smooth and gentle all the way down into Pearisburg. Then, Beaker came upon the Lucky Star Chinese Buffet (can you say, “All You Can Eat”?). I laughed when I finished eating and opened my fortune cookie and read: “You will obtain your goal if you maintain your course.” Even the Chinese buffet is rooting for me to finish this journey.
Beaker’s brother Kenny picked him up at the Lucky Star and they drove to Lewisburg, WV for the night.
9/9/17 Destination: Trent’s Grocery, VA Miles Today 25.8
Today ranks high on my list of Great Trail Days. Beaker started off in the fog but climbed out of it as he ascended into the hills. The rest of the day was spent hiking along the ridge. Although he had to navigate a few rocky sections, the trail, for the most part, was smooth and easy. In addition, the weather was just about hiker perfect – cool but clear skies.
At one point I heard crashing through the underbrush to my right. I have seen a bunch of deer through this section; but, these sounded bigger. Then I saw it – a bear! A fairly good sized bear ran across the trail about 30 feet ahead of me. It then stopped and stood on its back legs and looked at me…it dropped back down on all fours and loped off into the woods.
Trent’s Grocery, today’s destination, has everything a thru-hiker needs: a deli, a full selection of resupply options, and a place for camping next to the store – Beaker arrived there around 6:00 and got a cheeseburger and onion rings.
Beaker got a text from Courtney (aka Brie, aka Hoops). She was driving up from NC to meet him. The thing I have missed the most on this last section of the hike is the camaraderie of other thru hikers. In fact, I have been downright lonely. Beaker first met Courtney climbing up Blood Mountain on the second day of the hike, they crossed paths many times throughout the hike, and they climbed up Katahdin on the same day. Beaker was excited when she texted. It was so good to see one of his thru-hiker friends. Once her tent was set up, they went back to Trent’s for some ice cream and a bundle of firewood. They were joined in the camp by two other hikers and the four of them had a special evening around a campfire, listening to distance coyotes howling at the moon and telling tales of the trail. Tomorrow, Courtney is going to slackpack Beaker so he can knock out another 25 mile section of trail.
9/10/17 Stealth Site next to VA Rt 615, VA Today 25.2 miles
Beaker awoke to fog and a heavy dew at his campsite behind Trent’s Grocery. Courtney was slack-packing Beaker today. She even brought him a daypack, so he didn’t have to carry his heavy backpack. Beaker hit the trail by 7:45.
He climbed up out of the fog into full sun and blue skies – another beautiful hiking day. With the lighter pack, Beaker was able to cover ground pretty quickly. Around the 18 mile mark, he crossed US Rt 52 and came upon Courtney sitting at a picnic table next to the road. Beaker refilled his water bottles, ate some snacks, and headed out to finish the last seven miles of today’s hike.
While Hoops was waiting for Beaker to arrive, a Flip-Flopper named Dancing Bear had passed by. Beaker had first met Dancing Bear in Maine right after Mahoosuc Notch and had seen him off and on through Maine. Courtney invited Dancing Bear to camp with them and to run into Bastion, VA for pizza that evening. After a pizza dinner at the Pizza Plus, the three friends drove over to a Dairy Queen for dessert. They then returned to their stealth site next to Rt 615.
Tomorrow, Beaker plans to hike another 25 miles to Knot Maul Shelter, setting himself up for a 14 mile hike in the rain on Tuesday to complete the trail.