May 20, 2008 – 12 miles traveled
Awoke to cloudy skies, but no rain. I was out of the tent first, where I was immediately hobbling around. My calves were tight, sore, and protesting. Right, this is what would happen , after leaping right onto the AT with the Speedy Sisters and downing 16 miles yesterday?
I retrieved our food bags from a tree limb and successfully fired up my little paint can wood stove. I like screwing around with the idea of carrying no fuel, and gathering up twigs and shreds of fallen birch bark and cooking on the little fires I make in the stove. In the morning , I love a hot cup of fresh brewed joe, and use Rock City ( Rockland, Maine) coffees exclusively. I have a small MSR drip/ screened funnel ,that takes the three spoons full of ground coffee that I place in my Orikaso folding cup. Gotta have it! My standard trail breakfast is a packet of 2 PopTarts, usually tallying about 420 calories right off the bat.
V8 was up and cooking in her own single Rainbow Tarptent. Auntie Mame was soon up and at it as well.
We were on the trail by 8 am. We soon passed by the campsite/ spring to the left of Symmes Meadow, a real attractive place, and one where I would have preferred to spend last night. But V8 did the right thing, encouraging us to get off the ridge to a lower elevation, as there were thunderstorms predicted for the night that thankfully never materialized.
At mid morning we veered left to visit at the Rice Field shelter, where Auntie Mame and V8 were pleased to reconnect with some thru-hikers they knew. There was a young man there who was planning to replace his boots with a pair of Merrills. He was telling everyone that Merrills were great, but that was not the experience of the people I knew who hiked in them last year. I heard many complaints about the poor customer service from Merrill, and did not want to get into it with him, so I kept quiet and let him “ Hike his own hike.”
Another young man told me he had cut off the straps from his Leki poles “for safety”. I shut up about that too, and permitted him to hike his own hike as well.
From Rice Field shelter, the trail stayed on the 3500 foot ridge for another 3 miles of glorious hiking conditions when it started its descent down into the industrial waste hole that you have to pass through to get to Pearisburg.
Reluctantly, I remembered this stint well , even though I came through it from the other direction last year. You first see the chemical plant from the top of a field, and it looks close but no. The Trail swerves over a landfill, then the entrance to the dump, and goes up and over two hills that were humid, slimy, and slippery underfoot. As we approached the highway, a train was thundering in front of us, there was the whine of the traffic on the highway, and there was a lot of industrial noise and smoke emitting from the chemical plant. It was pretty funny. I laughed to stifle the negative reaction welling up from inside me.
We then walked through the property of the chemical plant, went under the highway, and then walked our way back to our car at the Rendezvous motel, which was booked solid. Brenda, the owner, found us a reservation back up at the Plaza Motel, where we settled in for a stint in the “shower world”.
I was in awe at the amount of packing, unpacking, repacking, cataloguing, and fretting about food and gear that the twins were handling. They are big on resupply, and bounce boxes, and this is all part of that deal. I started my thru-hike with a bounce box, but eventually gave it up after I realized that I was the only one of MEGATEX who had subscribed to the practice.
It was somewhere around here last year that I remember General Lee asking me , “Why?” regarding the bounce box deal. He said , “Just buy what you need when you get to a place that sells stuff”. No more worries about delayed deliveries, or the extra work dealing with the packing and unpacking.
“ Fugget aboud it! “ worked fine for me.
So tomorrow I drive the twins back to Rocky Gap and fly back to Maine, where I get two days off and then continue hiking on the AT, this time in western Maine with Rangoon and General Tso.
I love this retirement deal. Some one has to do it.