Thursday, April 29, 2021

Day 61, Thursday April 29, 2021


1st Corinthians

Dalesville to Peaks of Otter Overlook campsite - 19.6 miles hiked today - 749.6 total AT miles hiked to date.

Got an early start this morning, leaving the motel before 7 am.  Initially the trail paralleled I-81 for about a mile and a half, in a park like setting, before crossing under the Interstate at an underpass.  In that section I passed yet another milestone, the 1/3 completed trail marker at mile 731.0.  Shortly after passing under the interstate I came to a railroad crossing on the trail.  I got there just minutes too late to get across before a train went through.  It had to be 200 cars long, and it took almost 20 minutes for it to go by.  So much for an early start.

Once past the railroad tracks, the trail resumed it’s pre-town meandering up and around several long inclines and downhills.  The terrain was forgiving, with lots of switchbacks, and few rocks, making the hike very pleasant all morning.  I spotted half a dozen deer on or near the trail, a perk of being on the trail early.  By lunch time I’d covered over 11 miles already, so stopped at Wilson Creek Shelter for lunch.  PBJ on sourdough bread, Fritos, and a mini Moon Pie made for a very satisfying lunch.  A fortuitous discovery recently allowed me to pack 8 mini Moon Pies into a Pringles container, keeping them intact during the hike.

Right after lunch, I spotted the first of 3 large black snakes that I spotted that afternoon.  They varied in length from 3 to 5 feet long.  The first one was very hesitant to move from the trail, but finally moved along.

Shortly thereafter, I made the first of several crossings of the Blue Ridge Parkway, as the AT runs parallel to the BRP for about 7 miles. Each time I crossed the highway, there was an overlook with scenic views in both directions.  I pressed on until about 7pm when I pitched my tent, ate dinner and slipped into my bag for the night.  It’s supposed to rain tonight so may wake up to a wet tent.  We’ll see.

Until next time…

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Day 60, Wednesday April 28, 2031


No Bible reading today 

Zero day in Dalesville.  No AT miles hiked, although 4 or 5 off trail miles hiked in town.

As planned, we spent the day in Dalesville addressing needs and giving our bodies a day of rest.  This morning we did a 1.5 mile round trip walk to Cracker Barrel for breakfast.  Definitely worth the hazardous roadside conditions for the country fried steak, eggs, grits, hash browns, and biscuits w/gravy.  

After returning to the motel, we headed down the road to the shoppinq center for resupply.  Stopping first at the Goodwill that was on the way, we left there without any new/gently used items.  From there, a stop at the nearby outfitter where I picked up a new compression strap for my tent.  My old one is likely sitting in a campsite somewhere miles back.

While I went to Kroger to stock up on 4 days of food, Rick headed over to the Urgent Care to have his foot (and knee) looked at.  After being examined, the doctor told him that the pain was likely a metatarsal issue, but that he was okay to keep hiking.  The doctor also examined his knee that had shown swelling in the past few days.  The prognosis was for him to ease off some, and not push as hard.  Rick will try to slow down some and not go as fast each day for the next week or so and see how he feels.

After securing my food, I headed back to the motel, stopping at a convenience store for a soda.  The Hunt Brothers rep was there handing out free pizza, so that was my lunch, along with a pint of ice cream I’d picked up at Kroger.  Rick returned to the motel shortly thereafter with his resupply.  

Then I got a call from Chris McCallister, who has been keeping track of the Family Promise pledges as I hike. He and his wife Janey were in the vicinity on vacation in West Virginia. They offered to take us to dinner, which we quickly accepted.  Picking us up at the motel, they graciously let us stop by Walmart to pick up some things unavailable at the grocery store.  From there, Chris treated us to dinner (Applebee’s - fried chicken salad).  Dropping us at the motel afterwards (with our profound thanks), they headed on back to their farm in West Virginia - 2.5 hours away.  I sent some additional winter gear home with them as well, taking my base weight down a couple more pounds.

Tomorrow I plan to get an early start, and put in 18 miles or so.  Next major town is Waynesborough, 135 miles away.  Minor resupply stops will be available in the interim, every 4 days give or take.  Plan is for significant daily mileage over the next week, but at a slower pace, meaning early starts and long days.  We’ll see how that works out.

Until next time…

Day 59, Tuesday April 27, 2021



Lambert’s Meadow Shelter campsite to Dalesville VA - 9.0 miles hiked today - 730.0 total AT miles to date.

Another early start today, as I was pressing to get into Dalesville to address my phone issues.  Similar terrain as yesterday, if not the sweeping views.  I was the first one on this section of the trail today, evidenced by the multiple webs I walked through as I made my way up and over each mountain and into town.  I did have a start as I rounded a bend and almost team into a deer.  It was standing in the middle of the trail with its back to me.  When I stopped, it turned around with a wide eyed look and bounded into the woods before I could snap a picture.  

The morning passed quickly and I reached the edge of town around 11, after crossing the railroad tracks on the edge of town.  Not far from the trail was the Super 8 motel, a hiker friendly spot, which I headed for.  Confirming availability, I booked Rick and I a room for two nights, planning to take a zero day tomorrow to allow him to have his foot checked and resupply (as well as taking a full day for recuperating).

After showering and laundry (plus a trip to McD’s for a burger), I headed over to the Verizon store.  Three hours later I walked out with a new iPhone 12 for only a few hundred dollars with trade in on my old phone.  I now have a phone that should be sufficient for all of my phone/photo/tracking app needs for the rest of the hike.  It’s a relief to know that I won’t be out on the trail somewhere without any access.

Returning to the motel around 5, Rick had arrived a short while earlier.  After he did his necessary duties, we headed over to a nearby Mexican restaurant for a scrumptious dinner.  Going to bed in a comfy bed with linens and air conditioning is a real treat.

Tomorrow will be our zero day for resupply and for Rick to check on his foot at the local walk in clinic.  We’ll see what they say.

Until next time…

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Day 58, Monday April 26, 2021


Acts of the Apostles 

Devil’s Tooth trailhead campsite to Lambert’s Meadow Shelter campsite- 18 miles hiked today - 721.0 total AT miles hiked to date.

Another gorgeous day, appreciating the natural beauty of God’s creation.  Such diverse terrain, vistas, landscapes, and sights all packed into a single day.  Started out early again, originally planning to hike 20+ miles again to get me within striking distance of Dalesville.  I had to adjust that somewhat as I found that the last 9 miles into town did not permit camping along the trail.

The morning hike was cool, but quickly warming.  I reached VA 624 by 8 and decided to take the 1 mile detour to the Catawba Grocery, where I had a hot bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich, banana, and a quart of chocolate milk.  After filling up there, I struck out again, hiking along Catawba creek, through meadows, up over some rock scrambles, and winding trail.  Spring was out in abundance and blooming wildflowers were everywhere, By lunch, I reached the John’s Springs Shelter, where I stopped for a bite (PBJ), and to use the facility.  I was pleased to see that the privy there was erected almost 30 years ago as a Girl Scout Gold project.  The scouts really do a lot to make the trail better.



After lunch, it was a long, steady climb up Catawba Mountain to the highlight of the day (and one of the most iconic sights on the entire trail) - McAfee Knob.  There were dozens of day hikers that I passed on the way up, as it’s a local tourist destination. I took so many pictures I don’t have space to show them all, but here are a few:

From there, it was one challenging technical to another, including several hand over hand rock scrambles, multiple switchbacks and steep climbs, and even some sunny open clearings.  It had warmed up considerably, making hydration extra important and calling for more filtration stops than I’m used to.

As evening began to fall, and shadows were starting to creep over the trail ahead, it appeared that I was going to have my first bear encounter.  Several had been spotted in the area.  I heard a loud rustling noise about 50 yards downhill from the trail, and saw a dark shape moving through the trees.  I froze…and then saw it was just a deer.  There were three of them together, which accounted for the noise.  I was relieved, but honestly a little disappointed.

By the time I reached the final designated camp spot before the restricted area, it was getting late. Pulling into the shelter area, there were already over a dozen tents set up near the shelter, and 4 separate campfires going.  I continued on for another several hundred yards and found a quiet spot to set up right next to the creek.  A quick dinner and into my bag.  Tomorrow is Dalesville for resupply and addressing my phone issues.

Until next time…

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Day 57, Sunday April 25, 2021


Sarver Hollow Shelter campsite to Dragon’s Tooth trailhead campsite - 21.2 miles hiked today - 703.0 total AT miles to date.

In case I haven’t said it before,  thru hiking is hard!  Some days, while putting one aching foot in front of the other, the scope of the undertaking seems overwhelming, and the end seems beyond achieving.  Today was not one of those days!  It was a day filled with beauty, excitement, challenges, milestones and more.

The day started early, as I awoke at 6 after 12 hours of restful sleep, the constant drone of rainfall on my tent working as soothing white noise and allowing an uninterrupted slumber.  I struck camp quickly, although the tent exterior was still wet from the rain, which had stopped before sun up,  I was back on the trail by 7, well before anyone in the shelter was stirring.  I wanted to push for 20+ miles today to put me in striking distance of Dalesville by Tue a.m.  My phone has been acting up and I want to get it checked out in town.

The first couple of miles had several difficult technicals, rock scrambles, and climbs that required hand over hand maneuvering and diligent focus.  One small misstep could mean plunging hundreds of feet and ending up in the valley below!  Well, at least falling hundreds of inches to the next outcropping of dirt.  Either way, a fall would not have been in my best interest.  Fortunately I worked my way through that section, none the worse for wear.  The rest of the morning was a mild ridge run, which allowed me to rack up some miles.

By lunchtime I had arrived at the Audie Murphy memorial right on the AT, near where his plane crashed in 1971.  Very impressive monument, and I lingered there for a while over lunch.

The afternoon was spent navigating various ups and downs, with beautiful valley views on either side of the trail.  By 5pm I’d reached the 700 mile marker on the trail, yet another milestone.  I also had both cell service and some battery left, so I made a few calls home from there.

Pushing on, I soon arrived at a favorite spot in this area, the Dragon’s Tooth.  Some of the younger folks actually climb to the top of it, but I settled for getting my picture taken in front of it.  The next 90 minutes consisted of negotiating the technicals down off of the mountain, again hand over hand in many spots.

Finally reached a flat area near the trailhead, and set up my tent. A long and satisfying day.  Tomorrow will be another 20+ mile day (terrain permitting), putting me into Dalesville early Tuesday.

Until next time...


Day 148, Sunday July 25, 2021

                   Zero day at Hikers Welcome hostel As planned, we took today as a zero, waiting out the thunderstorms and letting our bodi...