May 25: we left Pearisburg fairly early, exiting the hotel at 8:30; pretty unusual for the end of a town stay. The trail took us on a meandering route through the north of torn, through a cemetery, across a stream, past an ugly industrial plant, and finally climbing up to the ridge. We stopped for lunch at Rice Field Shelter, high up on the ridge- very windy but offering excellent views.
While we were eating, Fancy Feet emerged from the shelter, telling us of a freezing cold night up there. Looks like we made the right choice stating in town! After lunch, I again fell behind the guys, but that allowed me the nicer experience of a moment with this deer
She was standing in the trail and we had a bit of a staring contest until I snapped a pic. Then she jumped off the trail and bounded about 20 feet off trail where she walked with me for about 10 minutes. Cool! We camped that night at the Captain's place, which involved a pulley system zip lone ride across a stream to get to his house
He allows camping on his yard and has sodas kn his back porch for weary hikers. Another cold night. Good for sleeping, though
May 24: Overnight, a cold front had moved in and it was near freezing when we woke up. ThAt was a surprise! We had an amazing breakfast and hot the trail around 10. I had been nervous about the hike today, as it was a very steep descent. What with the rain we had been having, the cold, and the rocks, I was envisioning something like descending K2. For ally worrying, it was a pretty chill walk. We stopped at Angel's Rest viewpoint for a peek, and entered Pearisburg around 2. We went into town for a resupply, town food, and for that phone charger I've been missing. We decided to stay the night, as well, since the forecast was once again calling for low 30's at night. Plus there's those mattresses! I love sleeping on 'em!
May 21: up early for an 8 am start time- trying for a 24 mile day! Started put foggy , but we hiked down out of the cloud bank and it ended up quite lovely. I passed Wolf, a solo hiker who is only 19, on the way looking quite confused. I pointed out the white blaze to him and invited him to hike with me to the shelter for lunch. He declined and continued to stand there looking confused. Will have to keep an eye out for him. We passed some beautiful streams along the way, picking up the pace. On flat sections, I feel like almost running! Unfortunately, my pack is no longer fitting correctly since I've lost weight and I tire out quickly! We decided to stop 1 mile short of the shelter at the water source at z beautiful campsite with Sideshow and Dorothy. She treated us to a few songs on her ukulele. I had no idea she was such a good singer! Drifted off to sleep with " I Wanna Hold Your Hand" ony head and the sound of a babbling brook in my ears.
May 22: Since we were in a lower elevation, it took the sun a little longer to reach us and it was a layer morning for us. Pretty flat terrain, though still with those AT ups and downs. It was an ibuprofen kind of day for me, still uncomfortable in the pack. We got to the shelter for lunch and had the very pleasant surprise of reuniting with Road Runner! He took the rainy morning off on May 20. After lunch, thunder rolled in and we waited it out on the shelter for about 40 minutes. We then ventured a out and after about 2 miles, ran into an even bigger thunderstorm. But there was nothing to do but hike on. It's never ensuring to be hiking UP a ridge line during a thunderstorm. But we figured, the faster up, the faster down. And thunderstorms roll in and out pretty quickly, right? Suddenly we heard a particularly loud BOOM then a crack! And to the left of us, a bright flash of light and a streak shooting up into the sky. Lightening had struck the ground! It looked like it was only about 20 feet away or so. But it's kind of hard to judge something like that. When we finally reached the other side of the ridge, we were on a road 0.5 miles from a convenience store with hot food. We walked about 50 feet when a pick up truck pulled over and gave us a ride. Score! The bacon Swiss burger, fries, chocolate shake, Dr Pepper, Cadbury cream egg, and oatmeal pie I had for dinner was almost enough to make me forget the scary walk on the ridge line. We got back on the trail and walked another 2 miles to a campsite in the rhododendrons next to a rushing stream. Once again falling asleep to the sound of a babbling brook.
May 23: early start today to try to get to Woods Hole Hostel early. Subaru and I were setting up a good pace, flat terrain, a little muddy with lots of stream crossings. Here's a bit of advice; wet wood plus muddy boots equals disaster. I slipped into a full split on one bridge. I haven't done a split in years. And never with a backpack on. Good to know I can do it. Stopped for second breakfast at a shelter that Road Runner had pushed on to. Then kept up with the fast pace until...
We ran into this...rocks! Lots of rocks everywhere. Slowed the pace significantly! We got to the road to the hostel just as another rain storm arrived. Fortunately it was short lived do we got to enjoy Woods Hole Hostel to its fullest. What a great place! It's an organic farm with a bunkhouse. We had amazing hand made food, did yoga, and ended the day with a gratitude circle and meditation. What more could you ask for?
t! But luckily, we hit some trail magic: Dr Pepper and PB&J sandwiches. We got to the shelter and had lunch, then sat, trying to wait out the rain. And getting cold. I was just about to throw in the towel and say let's just stay here when Subaru said " we should go". He was right of course. It stopped raining and the sun struggled out. We crossed a beautiful meadow and ended up at the shelter up on top of a bald. We took put pur tents and dried them out, reunited with Dorothy and Earth Balance for an impromptu yoga session, and slept on comfortable grass.
After trail days, we were in a crazy madcap race of sorts. Hawkeye was 4 days behind and was trying to gradually catch us. Road Runner was one day ahead, and Subaru and I were trying to catch him. Add to that, our newly lightened packs from the winter to summer gear switch, and the miles went big! May 19: started with hitching from Damascus to Marion. It took us 3 hitches, but we got back to Partnership Shelter by 12:00 and back on the trail by 12:30 after lunching at the shelter. Then we did 18 miles by 7:00. The terrain was definitely more gradual, and we had a lot of stretches through meadows and farmland and even through wetlands, walking on boardwalks. I'd post some beautiful pictures of the scenery for you, but I lost my phone charger in Damasus and had to hike 100 miles to Pearisburg to buy another. So I was phone less, camera less, and clock less all week! My favorite part of this day was when we stopped into the Settler's Museum, located right on the trail! It had a farmhouse, a one room schoolhouse, and a cabin. It told of the migration of Scotch-Irish and German settlers into Appalachia. There was a really funny news leaflet from the 1800's talking about the settlers. The Scotch-Irish were apparently loud, boisterous, drank a lot, always had several projects going on which never got finished, and were always fighting. The Germans were quiet, organized, efficient, completed one project before moving on to the next, and got along with everyone. Sounds about right to me! We ended up at Crawfish Gap campsite as it started to rain and were reunited with Dangerpants, Sideshow, and Earth Balance. Great group of people!
Trail days is the annual celebration for present and former AT hikers held on Damascus, VA. At first, when I was hiking with Chiclet and Big Spoon, and we were on a one track- pump out the miles- we have a deadline- frame of mind, we were not even considering going to trail days. We figured we would be in and out of Damascus by that time, and we would just be pushing on. Then our hiking group broke up and my next hiking group had a member stay in Damascus, and there was just no way we could miss trail days. I'm do glad my plans about trail days changed. Trail days was everything I thought it would be and then some. It was fun and not fun and wonderful and tragic and a bargain and a rip off all rolled into one. We stayed just out of down town on the town sport complex which had been designated as "tent city".
We did not get much sleep during trail days! First order of business, reunited with Chiclet and Big Spoon, K-Biz and Teen Wolf! We hung out at K-Biz's camp, which was now known as "the cult of the sun god". Don't ask! And guess who was a member of the cult? Florida Jimmy! I'm so happy he's still on the trail.
On Saturday, was the hi light of the weekend, the hiker parade. Hikers lined up by "class"; thru-hiker class of 2000, 2001, 2012, etc. Then we all walked down Main Street while the citizens of Damascus pelted us with water guns and bubble machines! It was great fun until the incident happened. At first, we had no idea what was going on. An ambulance came the opposite way down Main Street thru the parade. I sort of figured there was a mountain biking accident or something. Then another ambulance. Then another. And it stopped about 150 feet behind me in the street. We were all wondering what was going on; maybe somebody got too dehydrated and passed out. Maybe somebody was too drunk and fell and hit their head. Then a hiker came running up the street, completely panicked and freaked out. He found his group of friends and started yelling out "It's Rainbow Bright! She's pinned under the back wheels of a car! Somebody ran over Rainbow Bright!" I've never seen such a large group of people go from so festive to so silent so quickly. Subaru had been behind me, taking pictures of the crowd and saw it happen. There was a lot of screaming "Stop! Stop!" as a car rolled from a side road out onto Main Street, hitting and running over people. A bunch of people turned around and put their hands on the hood of the car and physically stopped the rolling. Somebody jumped into the passenger's side and put the car in park. The driver, who we assume had a medical event, was completely disoriented and had no idea what had happened. There was a girl pinned under the rear tires, the car not rolling fast enough to roll over her but instead to drag her along. A bunch of hikers picked up the rear end of the car and moved it off of her. Meanwhile, up where I was, we had all cleared the road and were on the sidewalk. We couldn't go anywhere as they had blocked off the street. We just sat there, eerily silent, waiting to see what was going on. Finally, they told us to all go to the park. We could not go back to tent city, as that road was blocked. Down on the sports fields is where the helicopters landed toed flight out the most serious victims. The emergency teams were wonderful. They were very efficient and on top of things. It turns out nobody was seriously hurt and everyone is expected to recover fully. The other Trail Days staff were great, as well, keeping everyone informed of the status, but also able to get people's minds off of the incident and getting music, free food, give always, and the talent show underway to keep things, well, festive. All, in all, I'm glad I went. Good to be reunited with my buddies. And overall, a fun time.
May15: after the pony day (which incidentally ended at Wise Shelter- mile 500! C'mon everybody sing it with me: da-da-da-da, da-da-da-da, da-da-dum-da-da-dum-da-da-dum!) everything else seemed a bit, well, boring. The terrain was pretty varied with streams and rocks and grassy balds and meadows. A few big climbs and then a few big descents. We lunched by a stream and it had gotten so warm, I waded in with bare feet and poured water over my head. As the weather got warmer and we got hotter, we decided to stop 4 miles before the next shelter to go to a Methodist hostel and have some town food for dinner. The joke was on us, though, as the restaurant had gone out of business, there were no convenience stores, and no cell phone coverage in Troutdale. Oh we'll, it was clean and we did get a shower. May 16: our last hiking day before trail days. Our plan was to make it to Partnership Shelter, the famous shelter where you can shower and order pizza! It seemed that this would be a hub of hiker activity answers could get a ride to Damascus from the nearby visitor's center. When we got there, though, no activity whatsoever. The staff at the visitor's center seemed to have no idea about trail days and everyone at the shelter seemed to be going to Marion to get a ride to Damascus. So we ended up hitching into Marion for the night.
I'm in Damascus today and there was a big mishap during the hiker parade- several hikers got run over and were airlifted out for medical help. I hope they are okay. I was fortunately not one of the injured nor were any of my close hiking buddies. I'll provide more details layer, just wanted everyone to know I'm okay.
What a good day! It was sunny, low 60's, with a gentle breeze all day. We headed out of the shelter to do an 18 miler which would bring us through Grayson Highlands, one of the most raved about sections of the AT. The terrain is getting easier- more gradual climbs and less steep ascents and descents. We passed over a bald and were actually able to enjoy the views! A nice easy descent to Rt 600 where we were greeted with trail magic! Co-pilot has a son who thru-hiked last year and whose wife is doing it this year. He had sodas and snacks and fortune cookies. We sat in a grassy patch on the sun and had some rest and trail magic for a while.
Then we crossed the street onto the state park. Up another gorgeous grassy bald sprinkled with flowers
Across the other side, we came to the ponies! There are herds of wild ponies who roam free here. I've never seen a wild pony before. They come running up, looking for food and licking the salt off your skin. It was awesome!
May 11: today was our push into Damascus. With the promise of a hot shower, food, and laundry, we aimed to do the 18 miles mostly downhill) quickly and get onto town early afternoon. Subaru and I left the shelter with Cat at 7 and went down the trail to find Hawkeye and Road Runner. We found RR, Hawkeye had already started hiking. We caught up with him at a small, "no longer in use" shelter where we put on rain gear and pack covers as the sky looked threatening. The rain showed up shortly thereafter, and we spent the day hiking downhill, out of the clouds and out of the rain. We had decided to skip lunch and eat in Damascus. Sub and Cat were putting up a really good pace and I soon fell behind. After rushing all morning, I finally reached the point where I just slowed down. What is 40 minutes when you are planning on zeroing in a town? The hike into Damascus felt like heading into the Emerald City. The famous Damascus, the myths, the legends! The most hiker-friendly town on the trail with really good pizza! About 3 1/2 miles before the town, I passed this:
State #4! We will be here for a while. One quarter of the AT is on the state of Virginia. Finally, I emerged from the woods into a park with a model of a shelter and a welcome sign. Damascus is pretty small- didn't take long to find Sub and Cat and secure a bed at The Place, a Methodist Church run hostel. The hostel did not supply towels for the showers, and I quickly learned that I had left my camp towel at a shelter a few days before after another bite-valve incident. So I headd to the Dollar General to get a towel. While there, I saw a 6 pack of Snickers bars and figured I'd get it to share with my friends. I left the store, sat on a bench, and ate all 6 Snickers bars, one after the other. Then I felt bad about not sharing and went back inside for another package. These I shared: 1 for Hawkeye, 1 for Subaru, 1 for Road Runner, 1 for Cat, 1 for the hostel caretaker, and 1 for me. For later. Because sometimes it's just a 7 Snickers kind of day. May 12: zero day. Which was good because The Place was filled with really loud snorers! The temp had dropped at night and we unexpectedly spent the day bundled up. Typical zero: eat, blog, resupply, nap, organize gear, shower, sleep.
May 13: Got up and went to the post office to get my transition box. But in light of the cold front that had moved on, and since we had a 6000 foot mountain coming up, I decided to have an outfitter hold my summer stuff for a week and change it out when we returned for trail days. Hawkeye had an emergency dental situation arise and was getting off the trail to get oral surgery. So Road Runner, Sub, and I hit the trail about 10:30. I was still a little sluggish and not very well rested, so I started lagging behind a little. I pushed up a particularly steep and poorly maintained section of trail and... Had no idea where to go. The trail just ended at an ATV trail. No white blazes on sight! Come to think of it, I hadn't seen a white blaze in a while! So I ended up backtracking about 3/4 of a mile to where I had made a wrong turn onto a mountain bike trail. I want credit for that extra mile and a half! Now on the right trail, I zipped along, and then passed a camper who asked "Are you with 2 guys? One German?" "Um, yup." "They went back looking for you. Stay here so they'll find you" Now our little group calls Pink Blazing taking the wrong trail. We spent the night, appropriately enough, at Lost Mountain Shelter.
Hi, I'm Heather, AKA "Pink Lady". Welcome to my blog. I'm so excited to share my adventures as I embark on a thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail. While you're here, be sure to check out the charity I'm hiking for: Devoted2Children a great organization which funds a home for orphaned children in Haiti.