Pearisburg, VA – mile 634 – 29.0% of the trail complete
June 4th – Atkins, VA to Knot Maul Shelter
Total miles on AT – 14.7
Elevation gain – 2451ft
Elevation loss – 2189ft
Start time: 8:15am
Finish time: 5:10pm
Total time hiking : 6:30
Weather: sunny, very warm, and humid, evening showers and thunderstorms
So Kevin’s first overnight adventure on the AT began today, and he did very well. He did so much research to prepare for this weekend that I actually learned a thing or two from him. As expected, I slowed him down on the downhills. He was able to keep up with me on the uphills except for the last one of the day, but overall he did very well. It was nice to have someone to hike and chat with all day.
It was a beautiful section. We walked past rolling farmland and picturesque little rivers. Kevin got a taste of trail magic when a man in a pick up offered us cold colas at a road crossing.
We made it to the shelter and got water in time to retreat to the shelter before a thunderstorm brought a torrent of rain. Later the rain eased up enough for us to set up our tents.
June 5th – Knot Maul Shelter to Davis Campsite
Total miles on AT – 16.6
Elevation gain – 3109ft
Elevation loss – 2016ft
Start time: 8:20am
Finish time: 7:35pm
Total time hiking : 7:15
Weather: rain, mild
It rained all night and through the early morning. We had to break camp in the rain. I was impressed with how well Kevin was able to do that considering he’d never broken camp in the rain before. When we got to the forest road where Kevin was to be picked up by a shuttle, I waited with him for it to come. But it never did. He decided that he would begin walking out to the main road – 8 miles – and that I should move on. I did so hesitantly. I have no idea if he made it out ok or not. (Check out Kevin’s blog to see what becomes of him.)
From the forest road it’s a 2000 foot climb to Chestnut Knob Shelter. One of my hiking poles busted on the way up, but it’s still usable. The temperature dropped and it started raining again. The winds picked up out in open fields on top of the bald. The shelter was a welcomed site.
When I opened the door I was happy to see familiar faces – Pish, Legs, Teddy, and Little Griz. They had come in the night before and zeroed (no miles) that day. The shelter was a stone structure that was four sided and very cozy inside while the sound of the storm rattled away outside. But the noises were deceptive. The rain sounded harder than it actually was and the winds were not real cold. It was very tempting to stay, even though the place was packed pretty full. I could see how this place could trap someone. The shelter stood on top of the mountain so I figured once I got down a little in elevation it wouldn’t be too bad. I stayed two hours there and cooked up a late lunch then intended to make it 10.7 to the next shelter before dark.
The profile in my guide looked easy – no ups. But boy was I wrong. Despite a large section with no significant elevation change overall, the trail was rocky, rough, and up and down. I thought the two-hour break would be good for my knee, but the opposite was the case – the rough trail caused the patella in my left knee to hurt more than it had in days. I made poor time. I was very frustrated.
I decided to take the half mile side trail down to Davis Campsite instead of trying to make it all the way to the shelter. I was awarded with views of a farm sitting at the bottom of the valley. The sun came out and provided a beautiful sunset over the mountains beyond the valley. I am completely alone here.
I intend to do 17 miles tomorrow but worry that my knee won’t let me. Hopefully the terrain eases up.
June 6th – Davis Campsite to Helveys Mill Shelter
Total miles on AT – 17.0
Elevation gain – 1587ft
Elevation loss – 2316ft
Start time: 8:05am
Finish time: 6:05pm
Total time hiking : 6:40
Weather: partly sunny, pleasant
The day started out slow with a 1400 foot downhill 3.5 miles to Jenkins Shelter and I made poor time as my knee started to hurt. Just beyond the shelter there was a very cold creek where I was able to stand in and soak my knees. It was so cold my feet hurt and the fifteen minutes passed slowly. My knees felt great for three miles after that, so I soaked them again in Laurel Creek where I also cooked lunch.
The rest of the day was pretty easy and I was able to open it up downhill not worrying so much if my left knee started hurting knowing (or believing) that a good soak would make it feel better.
We passed over Interstate 77 and despite hiking 1.8 beyond it to Helvyes Mill Shelter the highway noise is pretty loud from here.
Tomorrow we go over 600 miles and at mile 601 we’ll be a quarter way through Virginia!
June 7th – Helveys Shelter to Dismal Falls
Total miles on AT – 18.0
Elevation gain – 1311ft
Elevation loss – 2089ft
Start time: 9:20am
Finish time: 7:00pm
Total time hiking : 6:10
Weather: sunny, warm with a pleasant breeze
A pretty good day; easy terrain, good miles, not too much discomfort, two stream soaks (one stream had fish nibbling at my legs and nearby crayfish with claws big enough to convince me to get out of the water early), pizza and a milkshake at Trent’s Grocery a half a mile off the trail, late night chillaxing around a fire with kids not even out of college yet, pictures with Odie who produces the hiker yearbook, tenting by a waterfall, feeling good about tomorrow.
June 8th – Dismal Falls to Docs Knob Shelter
Total miles on AT – 15.7
Elevation gain – 2407ft
Elevation loss – 1139ft
Start time: 11:45am
Finish time: 7:45pm
Total time hiking : 5:30
Weather: beautiful – clear, mild, breezy
A pretty easy 15.7. It was cool and breezy this morning like yesterday. And like yesterday I slept in. I spent an hour looking for my tent bag with no luck. Someone must have taken it? My tent seemed like it was out of the way from the crowd but you had to go by it to get to the water. Has someone taken cash from me as well? I checked but haven’t kept track of how much cash I have on me at any one time.
I felt out of it and kinda didn’t feel like hiking. It was such a beautiful day that it was more fun to just sit in the sun and feel the breeze. We came across a nice pond that wasn’t in the guide and some folks even went swimming. There were some really nice views along the ridge line in the afternoon. I heard so many good things about the Woods Hole Hostel that it was tough to pass up. But I think I am going to stay the night in Pearisburg tomorrow so I can get all my stuff done.
June 9th – Docs Knob Shelter to Pearisburg, VA
Total miles on AT – 8.4
Elevation gain – 543ft
Elevation loss – 2065ft
Start time: 9:25am
Finish time: 1:10pm
Total time hiking : 3:00
Weather: beautiful – clear, cool in the morning, warm in the afternoon
I was cold last night. I slept in the shelter and wished I had added ten degrees by sleeping in my tent, but there were no flat spaces.
A short trek with more beautiful views along the ridge. But some steep downhill to get into town, the steepest we’ve had in a while. My knees held up relatively well.
Lots of errands to do in town before heading out tomorrow. Sharing a hotel room with Legs, Teddy, and Skittles. Legs is called as such because of his long legs, Teddy carries with her a teddy bear, and a Skittles hair color(s) looks like a bag of Skittles.
All you can eat Chinese for lunch and a mammoth pizza for dinner.