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Week Nine: Pearisburg

Sunday June 5th, 1983
My day started at dawn. Visions of Pizza Hut flashed before me as I sped toward town. I did stop at the overlook known as Angels Rest to take in the view for a brief time, but was more interested in getting to town. I arrived at the outskirts of Pearisburg at 10:00am and made a bee-line along the blue-blazed trail for the hospice. The hospice is a barn-style structure complete with a shower, kitchenette, library, weight scale, and sleeping area in the loft. Nice setup with a decent view to the side over an empty field back toward the mountains that I had just come from.

I have met many people here, but the most interesting is Paul. Paul is hiking the A.T. from Washington, DC. To Georgia and then plans to hike from Georgia to California. The proposed hike in itself is amazing, but add in the fact that he is deaf and it becomes almost heroic. Paul could read lips quite well and being able to talk, told us his story. He had a loud voice, so it would have been hard not to hear it in the close confines of the hostel. I don’t know if he ever finished. We were going in opposite directions, and his journey on the AT was only a part of his complete journey.

Monday June 6th, 1983
Much of today I spent writing letters, and going to the post office on the other side of town to mail them and a package. On each town stop, I sent forward a package with items that were hard to find or things that I might need later. At some point after the Smokey Mountains, I exchanged my winter bag for my summer bag. It may have been here in Pearisburg, but I’m not sure exactly.

I feel mellow. Because of the rain lately, my boots have been soaked to their core, but leaving them off today in the sun they are finally drying; and I'm ready to bail out of town if the rain holds off.

Tuesday June 7th, 1983
Unfortunately, I woke up to a grey day with a rainy forecast so I went to the library, filled my fuel container, and generally just hung around. Oh! I was bored! The worst part is that it didn't rain - so rain or shine, tomorrow its back on the trail!!

I don’t remember where I ate today, but there was an all you can eat special at the Pizza Hut, so I probably spent a good deal of time there. Part of the day I went to the library to read, and just kill time. I began feeling a bit guilty about hanging around, and was concerned that I would get complacent here. I was always keen to leave town a.s.a.p. for I knew that Katahdin loomed far away, and I was not a particularly fast hiker. I relied on persistence rather than speed to get there in time. Many had succumbed to the town trap, but I was determined not to let that virus kill my quest.

Wednesday June 8th, 1983
Beautiful hiking today. The weather was sunny, cool and breezy, so I did about nineteen miles to Pine Swamp Branch Shelter. That does not include the few miles back to the trail on the other side of town from the hostel. After crossing Senator Shumate bridge, the trail ascended Peters Mountain then followed the ridgeline for several miles with little change in elevation. Along the way I saw lots of wildlife including many rabbits (but not bugs bunny), a grouse, a box turtle, and even an albino deer. I have never seen a white deer before, and I'll bet few people have. The grouse have a little game that they play to protect their young. When a predator gets too close they fake an injury to draw the predator away from the babies. They'll walk in front of you feigning a broken wing while screaming in mock pain until you follow them away from the babies. If you get too close to the adult, it flies away. At the time, the grouse behavior was puzzling to me, but I later discovered the rouse that was perpetrated on me. I fell for it hook, line, sinker and bait.

(A friendly box turtle)

Thursday June 9th, 1983
Had an easy hike today. I did only 11.8 miles all day - on purpose - because I was told that the next shelter, Big Pond Shelter, had no water. You would think that with a name like that there would definitely be water, but the fact is that drinking out of something called a pond is not too appealing and sometimes down-right dangerous. In addition to that, the nails that hold my sole to the boot are beginning to poke through the inner boot, and it's starting to hurt. In desperation, I put a piece of mole foam rubber pad over the offending nails, but it did not cure the problem. The problem was that the nails were in the toe section so I couldn’t get in there to peen over the offending perpetrator. Hopefully there is a cobbler in Buchanan, Virginia where I will stop and check.

The shelter I am at tonight, WarSpur, is nice. It has a large stream 100 feet in front of it. The day seemed long today, even though it was not, because my foot is hurting from my boot problem.

I notice in the guide that there is a relocation tomorrow that takes ten miles off of the trail mileage reported last year, thus making it possible to get to Niday shelter tomorrow night.

Friday June 10th, 1983
Last night at dusk and early this morning I had a visitor. She was a very young doe that was quite curious. Early this morning she came sniffing at the entrance of the lean-to as if to wake me.

I redressed my wounds this morning; this time putting two rubber backed moleskins, one over the other, in my left boot over the nail tips, and hiked all day without it bothering me. I was not bothered by people today either, as I never saw a soul on the trail.

The relocation on this section involved some hard climbing, but knocked ten miles off of the old route. Today I saw many deer and chipmunks.

Today was a 17.5 miler and I'm staying at Niday Shelter.

Last night I slept alone and it looks like the same tonight, fantastic!

(View from Wind Rock) (A field in Southern Virginia) (View of Sinking Creek area)

Saturday June 11th, 1983
Hiked to Pickle Branch Shelter today. Only 8.0 miles - but it was a nice shelter, and today I am celebrating two months on the trail. Pickle Branch was off of the trail and I lost some elevation getting down to it. Fortunately it had a good water source. Ramen noodles and two helpings of pudding today - and why not!! I had been breaking personal goals and was beginning to feel that this journey just might be doable. The trail was my home now and I was comfortable with this vagabond existence. I had washed and shaved at Craig Creek around noon, which made me feel good as well. Saw a three foot long black snake and even got a picture. I guess I am getting more in tune with nature too, as I heard many deer in the forest today. I wish Dia was here.

A hiker came into camp later this evening, and offered me spaghetti, pudding, and fig bars! I gobbled it all up in seconds. This was to be his last day on the trail so he was dumping all of his spare food.


Gonzo! Appalachian Trail Journals ©1983