Hike Thru-hikers Forward – Update: May 19 – June 1, 2021

I still have no official update from Mileage, but Rock and Roots (David and Annie Rothman) have updated their online journey. The following post is a quick recap of The Rothman’s adventure on the Appalachian Trail from May 19–June 1.

On May 19, Rock and Roots arrived in Pearisburg, VA. They had been slack-packing with Mongo, the host of the Lick Skillet Hostel in Bland, Va. For the past 4-5days. The hostel (see photo) was an abandoned Presbyterian Church built in 1911. The members of the church built a new building and moved out. It became a thrift store and then a furniture refinishing shop. 2014 thru-hiker, Mongo found it on Craig’s List and bought it and converted it into an AT hostel. 

Rock and Roots woke up at the hostel on May 20 for the last time in Bland, VA. They spent the morning there before Mango transported them back to Pearisburg. They hit the trail around 12:45 to continue their NOBO hike through Virginia. The couple hiked about 13 miles and ended their day’s journey about 8:15 when they found some nice flat trail suitable for camping. They have traveled about 645 miles along the Appalachian Trail.   

May 21 was Day 66 of the journey and the Rothman’s walked 15 miles ending up at Wind Rock (see photo). This is a nice place for a break and a photo shoot of southern Virginia. Rock and Roots spent the night here and they mention meeting seven other hikers, including “Mileage.” I am not sure if this our Mileage (part of the Hoots) or not, but it sure could be. Mileage’s journal is still silent, but she might be going strong.

Rock and Roots had breakfast at Wind Rock on May 22 before heading down the trail. Nine miles later they stopped for lunch at another photogenic spot, Kelly Knob. Following the knob there is a section f beautiful forest followed by a meadow. Just after the meadow they arrived at Keffeer Oak, the largest oak tree in the southern part of the AT which is 300 years old and over 18 feet around (there is a larger oak along the AT: The Diver Oak in New York). Rock and Roots hung their food and pitched their tent near the old oak.

The wake-up call for May 23 was the sound of cows in a nearby farm field. The day included 15 miles of walking including some rocky ridges that provided some great views of the countryside. The arrived at Niday Shelter about 1:30 for some lunch (That would be arriving at Niday about Mid-day)  

After lunch they experienced three Trailing Blessings in 5 miles. One was a trash can filled with soda and beer; the second was subs, chips, cookies, and Gatorade served in a parking lot; the third offered grilled cheese and Oreos. Before the end of the day, they walked by a memorial to Audie Murphy: a plaque just off the trail at Brush Mountain recognizing the most decorated American soldier of WW 2, who die in a plane crash near this spot of the AT in May of 1971.  

Rock and Roots hiked 36 miles over the next two days in order to spend the night at Daleville, Virginia on May 25. They experienced the triple crown: The Dragon’s Tooth (a large stone monolith), MacAfee Knob (a spectacular outcropping overlooking the valley below) and Tinker Cliffs (a 0.5 mile cliff walk) on their way. They arrived in Daleville to a full moon and in time to watch the anticipated eclipse. They enjoyed the evening while resting in a Super Eight. A hot bath and clean laundry provided encouragement and sanity to the craziness of the thru-hike.

They next day May 26 was spent in Daleville, resupplying for the trip ahead. However, Rock and Roots took off from Daleville in the late afternoon with the goal of climbing 1300 feet in 5 miles to the next shelter (Fullhardt Knob Shelter). They accomplished their goal and spent the night at the shelter. May 27 was a 17-mile day, although the online journal does not indicate their actual destination. They indicate that they spent the night at a campsite on top of a mountain, but the actual spot is hard to verify (maybe Cove Mountain- mile 747.1)

The journal on May 28 does provide a landmark of recognition. Rock and Roots stop for lunch “at the coolest shelter on the Appalachian Trail. The craftsmanship was second to none with lots of windows and a loft balcony. It even had a porch.” This is the Bryant Ridge Shelter (see photo), a two-story shelter with space for as many as 20 hikers. It was built in 1992 and is dedicated to the memory of Nelson Leavell Garnett, Jr. It was designed by his architecture school classmates. It is located at the NOBO mile 756. The couple had plans to go to the Apple Orchard Falls but an afternoon rain helped change their minds – they camped a couple of miles short of the falls after experiencing the overlook at Black Rock. Today’s adventure = 15+ mile day.

Rock and Roots broke camp on May 29 and made their way toward the falls. They were disappointed in the water flow and decided to move on. They climbed Apple Orchard Mountain, walked under the “Indiana Jones” looking rock ball called the Guillotine, and took a break at the Thunder Hill Shelter. The morning was filled with clouds and mist. The afternoon hike was mostly all rain, and Rock and Roots stopped for dinner earlier than normal. The rain slowed down after they enjoyed three amigo stew, rolled into a tortilla with avocado, so they hiked two more miles and found a little spot to set up along the James River.

May 30 presented a challenging climb from the river to Big Rocky Row (about 2.500 feet in 5 miles). They met a couple of section hikers who were excited to meet some thru-hikers. They took some pictures together and the couple gave them a bag of dried mangoes. Rock and Roots hiked until dinner time and then had a meal at Punchbowl Overlook until it started to rain. They packed up their food quickly and headed for the Shelter.  

The couple woke up in the morning by the creek in front of the shelter and started on a 17-mile trek ending at a stealth camp near Hog Camp Gap. They were blessed with lots of food today: apples, oranges, and bananas; then chips and peanut butter; then Oreos and an orange to go. They crossed over the 800-mile marker, enjoyed the views of Cold Mountain before camping about 6 miles north of Buena Vista, VA.   

June 1 was Day 77 on the trail for Rock and Roots. They started their day with some tea and mushroom coffee to have with their oatmeal.  After trekking the path for about 10 miles, they took a short side trail that led to the tip of Spy Rock where they saw a beautiful 360-degree view of the Virginia countryside. 

Five miles later, they arrived at The Priest Shelter [mile-marker 823] situated at the summit of The Priest Mountain, where it is tradition to confess your “trail sins” in the shelter log. They descended 5 miles down to the Tye River, crossed the rather bouncy suspension bridge, and made camp as the sun was setting – about 9:00 pm.   

Photo: Lick Skillet Hostel 06-21-2018. Day 107. 13.2 miles. U.S. 52 Bland to VA 608 Lick Skillet Hostel. (604.4 + 8.8 = 613.1 Miles) – Wanderings With Wayne

Photo: Wind Rock 2019 Appalachian Trail Thru Hike – Wind Rock, VA – YouTube

Photo: Bryant Ridge Shelter Bryant Ridge Shelter – Wikitrail.org

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