We left Woods Hole filled to the gills with Tillie’s delicious breakfast. I could have stayed a few more days! It was a 10 mile hike to Pearisburg, a maildrop, laundry and grocery shopping. The forest had become a deep green and the ferns were over 4 feet tall! We ambled on through the dangling webs, flinching with revulsion as they clung to our faces. (Hey, Mark… Why don’t you lead?) We reached the road, fed at Hardies and headed for the hostel. Another friendly Virginian picked us up and dropped us at what would be our home for the next two days.
Once again, HAE is caught with beer in hand, NOT hiking. It was obvious that the Appalachian Trail’s trekkers were as much a part of the Trail as the dirt on the path itself. When a few hikers get together in town, there is bound to be a good time with lively conversation and cold beers. Most people reading this account of the Trail may conclude all hikers are a bunch of alcoholic stumbling bums, but rest assured, they are good natured and harmless stumbling bums! Featherback and his girlfriend, Featherette, Mule, Rambo, the Blaze Brothers, Just Brian, the French Stooge, Mad Dog and the Traveler were around and filling the place with the usual hiker antics and debauchery.
I called my girlfriend back home and got a sense that something was up. I’d been keeping in touch with her by phone at trail towns as well as writing her letters and I had been feeling homesick for her more than usual. Mark and I finished with Pearisburg and after a major fast food blast on the way out of town, it was back to the green Virginia woods.
The long ridge walks featured some fine views of the Virginian countryside but there was no water for long stretches. The walking was fast but hot and we seemed to melt away the miles. We spent a night at Pine Branch Shelter, hiked 15 miles the next day to Big Pond Shelter (more like “small mudhole”) and walked another 14 miles through the blooming mountain laurel to Niday Shelter. The unique topography of parallel mountain ridges and sweeping green valleys were so different from New England where I’ve done most of my hiking. Mark and I climbed towards the Dragon’s Tooth and interupted a young couple’s spirited lovemaking at the top. They left the rocks but we stayed for the lightshow that accompanied the storm front coming our way. As the clouds closed in, we headed down the mountain past Lost Spectacles Gap and to the store at Catawba.
…continue the expedition, read: [link]