June 9 - Back out there
When you leave town after a zero day, you smell good and you're clean. You foolishly try to make that last as long as possible by walking around things that may make you dirty or have bugs hiding in them. But it's all for naught.
I was slow getting out this morning and didn't hit the pavement for the walk back to the trail until almost 10:30. It was a hot sunny walk and I was in the woods by 11 with sweat pouring off me. It was very humid.
The climb out of Pearisburg involved crossing the New River on a huge bridge. It's called "new" but geologists believe it's one of the two oldest rivers in the world. There were two kayaks and two canoes floating along with the current, the people knew each other and were chatting with one another. Nice way to spend a Sunday morning.
Just follow the dotted line...
My pack did feel lighter, I'm happy to report but the shoulder was still sore. On the walk up to Walmart yesterday, I wondered about whether or not it was from muscle fatigue as stretching it made it feel a lot better.
That made me think it might have something to do with the hiking pole and not the pack at all. So today I carried the left pole more than I used it. I tried shortening and then lengthening it. I paid attention to how I used it relative to the right pole. I noticed I had a strangely uneven gait and was digging the left pole into the ground with more force and a twisting action. The jury is still out but I may be on to something here. I tried to walk more balanced and I think it helped.
The trail climbed to a ridge a couple of thousand feet above Pearisburg and stayed there for several hours of hiking. At one point I came to a group of tents at the prettiest camp site. I was looking for the water source and spoke to Jay Bird. He said everyone was there because of possible thunderstorms later on and the fact it was 11 miles to the next water.
I filled up my bottles and then filled my dirty water bag as backup because I knew I would be wild camping before the next water source. Eleven miles was out of reach for me.
Interestingly this also happened last week where I was obliged to carry four extra pounds of water. So although my pack was lighter this week, that extra water made it heavier, lol.
There was a camping area shown on the map and I wanted to walk at least to that spot before stopping. But when I got there it turned out to be an open field so I kept moving.
And then a mama deer with her spotted fawn strolled across the trail! She sort of leaped behind some stubby trees but then stopped and eyed me curiously. The fawn just stayed by her side. Wonderful.
And suddenly there were hikers. Four of them looking rather sweaty. Hikers usually nod at me and pay me little attention. These four leaped up and looked they want to hug me.
Turns out they yogied a ride from a local who knew a short cut back to the A.T. and following his directions, for 10 miles they figured, way longer they he had indicated it would be, they walked a road that petered out into a cart path that petered out to a dead end trail. And there, thankfully, were two white blazes. But which way was north and where were they?
I told them I knew exactly where they were and they were much relieved. But not happy. Water was either four miles back or seven miles ahead. They weren't out of water but were low and I offered some of mine but they said they'd be OK. They decided go the four miles south and I said good-bye and headed north. I wished I'd been a little more insistent and given them some of my water.
A life saving trickle of water.
I walked another half mile and then decided to pack it in. I was still on the ridge and it was rather windy but I found two trees that were square to the wind and rigged my tarp with a steep pitch on the windward side. I had to use large rocks as it was just too rocky to drive in a stake more than two inches. First time that's happened.
I set up my cook pot and stove to make dinner and then it began to rain. There was some distant thunder but no storm materialized over my head.
And then there was another spotted fawn! Right on the trail in front of my camp. And this time I got a picture with my phone. He was snacking on something on the trail and was a bit jittery, jumping sideways every so often. And then he wandered off into tall grass. I was being very quiet so his mama was giving him some leeway I figured.
A mist rolled in and I felt its chill. It was time to turn in. I hung the food bag and crawled into the quilt.