Pearisburg wasn’t worth much, but it was easy enough to walk in and out of. When we headed into town, we met Scott Jurek, an ultra-runner who is trying to beat the fastest supported thru-run of the AT. An interesting character and, although a different journey from mine, I wish him the best.
From Pearisburg, I did my longest “leaving town” hike; 20.7 miles to The Captains. Leaving town with a full food bag is always dreaded and never easy. The Captain is a former thru hiker who lives parallel to the AT, just across a small creek. To get across the creek, one has to pull them-self over it via zip line. Pretty neat. The Captain lives on a big property and allows hikers to camp on site for free. There were ten other hikers, none of whom I’d met before, at the Captains the night we stayed there.
The next day, we left The Captains early, planning on doing another 20 mile day. This did not come to fruition, reason being…heat wave and gnarly climbs. As you all probably know, this would be the beginning of some seriously hot temperatures. Dealing with 90+ temps and humidity, while hiking up and down mountains, is tough business. We only made 17 miles. Unfortunately, it’s only going to get hotter and more humid.
Nothing temperature wise changed the following day. Still hotter than hell. The only change was that we started hiking at 6am…my earliest start yet. We ended up making 23 miles and were set up for an easy day the following day.
Although this day was supposed to be easy and exciting, it certainly was not, as I only slept for about two hours. Unfortunately, my sleeping pad decided to malfunction as soon as I laid down. It deflated quickly. I now had to sleep on the bare, hard board of the shelter floor. Regardless of the misfortune, and additional reinforcement of my trail name, I still arose with excitement. My parents were just a few hours from being in Virginia with my best friend, Hazel Mae. Wish come true.
Hazel met me with elation, as she always does when I’ve been away for more than 15 minutes. My parents then took us into town to eat at The Homeplace, an all you can eat (AYCE) “family style” buffet. We dirty hickers thoroughly enjoy, and take advantage of, AYCE restaurants. Bernard, Finn and I have been trying our damndest to make any AYCE establishment we visit invoke the Homer Simpson clause. The clause is simply revoking the AYCE status because one eats way too much. We still have yet to succeed.
That night, we all went to see the new Jurrassic World movie. The movie was a disappointment all around. I was stiff and hurting after the first 15 minutes, the large tub of popcorn I ate gave me diarrhea, and the movie was just generally bad. I feel regretful that I was part of helping generate the movies some 500 million dollar opening weekend revenue. Either way, the little taste of normal society and family was a real treat.
The next morning, mom and dad dropped us back off at the base of McAfee’s knob and Hazel joined the hicker pack for the week. Although I’d been to McAfee’s Knob before, it was still breathtaking and memorable. We spent some time at the top hanging off the ledge, taking pictures, and eating second breakfast. We proceeded to move on, making 19.8 miles by day’s end, and walking back into Daleville for another stay.
Hazel loves to hike. Her approach, fast and hard. The only problem with her approach is that she is not used to walking more than 10 miles in a day. This approach proved to be a costly one over the past 5 days. She usually awakes with vigor, raring to go, but by mid-day, she’s worn herself out and moves slower than us bi-peds. Unfortunately she developed a limp on Wednesday and it never subsided. This forced me to carry her pack and food, and to take a half day and walk into the booming city that is Glasgow, VA. From Glasgow I hitched a ride to Buena Vista, we were stayed last night to rest.
Now we’re both sitting at the city park, Glen Maury, which is actually really nice and welcoming. Warpzilla, El Perro and Gaucho are in route to retrieve us, but not without leaving some Magic for the rest of the walkers.
Every year, for the past several, we have picked a spot on the trail to provide trail magic for thru-hikers. This year, Warp decided on Hog Camp Gap, which is just north of Buena Vista (about 6 trail miles). Apparently they have a special feast this year, although I do not know any specifics. It’s strange, and super exciting, to be on the receiving end of the magic this year.
Although the last 100+ miles have not been easy, nor has the weather cooperated, nor has my time with Hazel gone as planned…I still manage to end and begin each day with a smile on my face. Everyday brings a new challenge, a new reward and a closer bond to this earth and its inhabitants. I look forward to completing Virginia, and chewing up and relishing the rest of the some 1400 miles left to complete.
Over and out,
The Law & Hazel Mae