8/30/17 Destination: Stealth Site north of Punchbowl Shelter, VA Miles Today: 22.2
Today rated up pretty high on my list of Good Days on the AT.
Beaker got up about 6:00. The sun is rising later each day and it wasn’t fully light until after 7:00. As a result, he didn’t get on the trail until almost 7:30 AM. The rain had passed overnight but fog remained and the trees continued to drip. The trail through this section of Virginia is beautiful – smooth, packed dirt moving gently along the ridgetops. To make conditions even better, the trail ran through old farmland, with lots of apple trees. I couldn’t walk past those trees without sampling an apple. Or two. Or three. Or more…
The mist dissipated around 11:00 making the hike even more enjoyable. Beaker stopped for lunch around 1:00 and by 5:30 he arrived at a lovely campsite. While filling up his water bottles to make a final push ahead he struck up a conversation with a northbound hiker. The other hiker shared that a youth group that was headed to Punchbowl Shelter [Beaker’s initial destination] for the night. Beaker decided that 22.2 miles was far enough for one day. He took his time setting up his tent, eating dinner, cleaning up, and hanging the bear bag before sunset.
8/31/17 Destination:Glasgow, VA Miles today 13.2
Town Day! Beaker had a 13.2 mile hike in to Glasgow. Unfortunately, the first five miles were a climb to the summit of Bluff Mountain. Upon reaching the summit of Bluff Mountain, Beaker was rewarded with spectacular views mountains to the east and west.
Taking advantage of good cell phone service at the top of the mountain, Beaker called a hostel and made arrangements to be picked up at 1:00 PM at the road crossing 8.9 miles away Unfortunately, the rocks appeared, loose and wobbly making the descent rather treacherous. Beaker navigated the downhill and arrived at the pick up point with 14 minutes to spare.
Bob is the caretaker at the Glasgow hostel. Beaker jumped in his old car with peeling paint and started the five mile trip over the winding mountain road to Glasgow. Bob’s driving style was a little on the frightening side, passing on the solid lines around curves so Beaker was glad that the car ride was only 5 miles in length. He completed the usual town chores of showering, laundry, washing his pot and spoon, and figuring out how much food he needed for his next segment.
Prediction of steady rain all day tomorrow, but Beaker plans to hike on assuming I survive the ride back to the trail with Bob.
9/1/17 Destination: Cornelius Creek Shelter,VA. Miles today 19.9
Today was a nasty day to be out on the trail. The remnants of Harvey reached The Appalachian Trail in Virginia and the weather was wet, blustery, and cold. Bob delivered me back to the trail head by a little bit after 7:00 AM. The ride was calm and not nearly as scary as yesterday. Beaker crossed the 1000 foot long James River Bridge – the longest footbridge on the whole AT. The rest of the day was spent climbing. The rain held off for the first three miles; but, then the wind picked up and the rain settled into a steady, windy downpour. Beaker basically put his head down and cranked out the miles. As long as I kept moving, I didn’t get cold. So, I just kept moving all day. Beaker has also started listening to books on Audible to pass the time, so the miles went by quickly.
Beaker arrived at Thunder Hill Shelter around 1:30 and took a break to eat lunch. Heading back down the trail, he began to realize how cold he had become eating lunch so he began to hustle down the trail finally warmed up enough for my teeth to quit chattering.
Beaker passed by another AT icon along the way today – the Guillotine. It is a rock formation where you pass under a large boulder suspended above your head, trapped by the sides of a narrow passage between two rock faces.
Four people were already in the shelter when I arrived; but, they gladly made room for one more. After changing into dry clothes, eating dinner, and hanging our food bags, we are all settled in our sleeping bags for the night. It is still blustery and rainy and predicted to get down in the 40s tonight; but, I am safe, warm, and dry for the night.