Thursday, November 20, 2008


All went pretty well on my way down to Atkins. Luke was stellar company for the drive and great to catch up with. I unloaded me and Geronimo, Luke said glad it's you and not me, and we were off. It was freezing and snow flurrying when I walked under 81 but I figured it's November, Virginia, won't be a big deal. Snowed all night, I got 14 miles in btw 1-7 to the second shelter (the first one no longer exists). I actually crossed paths with about 3 SOBOs, I wanted to tell them they were crazy, but the look in our eyes said we both already knew that. I was feeling pretty good about the distance covered, stoked to experience the full gamut of weather on the AT, and very happy to pitch the tent under a roof. Tuesday I woke up to about 4 inches of snow and temps in the teens. It was windy and bitter cold so I thought... stay warm today, hike tomorrow. I spent the day getting fire wood, water, keeping the dog warm, trying to dry out my stuff. Actually those tasks are pretty tough in the wintry weather. The water was far away and hard to keep from freezing once retrieved. Every time I collected wood I'd get covered in snow, staying wet or damp most of the day. Drying out my stuff by the fire was involved because I wanted it close enough to get warm and dry but far enough not to catch fire. My gloves and shoe laces ended up getting a bit charred. I was banking on the next day being sunny and 40, snow will melt I thought, and I'll do a 19, then 14 ish to get to Bland, day dreaming crazy crushin days to get to Pearisburg. It never got to 30 degrees Tuesday. Wednesday I woke up antsy to get out of there, packed up despite the cold and snow, put my feet in sandwich Ziplocs then inside my shoes.... my best attempt at waterproofing. The sun peeked thru in the morning, as the day went on it got colder and cloudier. It took me till 2pm to get to Chestnut Knob shelter (only 9 miles). As I hiked on from Knob Maul the snow got deeper and deeper as I went up and down mountain ridges. By the time I was on the top of Chestnut Knob / brushy mountain the snow was up to my knees. The shelter was four sided, I had to muscle the door to open it against all the snow. I tuned into the radi o on my mp3 player. The forecast was another cold one and more snow the next day, probably that way for the next week. I decided this situation was no good right around the time I saw houses to the left of the ridge. Houses and I road I thought, the woods are beautiful, but I better get out of here while I still have feeling in my digits. I veered off the AT, skied/ slid down the mountain. The first man I crossed paths with was a local dairy farm owner on his way to hunt. "Are you lost" he asked from his drivers seat through the window. I explained my situation to him, which apparently he found wilder at every sentence. He kinda stared at me open mouthed, but eventually gave me a ride to Burkes Garden General Store. They invited me and Geronimo in, fed us grilled cheese and hot dogs and let us thaw out by their wood stove. The owner and his mother were the picture of warm genuine southern hospitality and exchanged smiles and stories with me. Fischa ended up driving 3 hours thru the mountain roads to pick me up and bring me... back to Dalevile... back to my parents; which is where I am now. First thought : jimminee Christmas that was beautiful. Second thought: winter thru hiking is not my cup of tea. So no more thru hike attempts in that kind of weather, I'm probably holed up around here working intermittently until warmer weather returns. I still want to hike, still feel like I won't move out west till this journey is complete... but life is unpredictable. Stay tuned =)


Andrew said...

all those names are so vaguely's funny, you sleep in all these hundreds of shelters, then to hear their name again, you think ohhhh yeah...i remember that.

i like the fact that one of my friends is still on the trail...that the trail is still alive and kicking even when i'm all the way out here.

keep on truckin...i'm gonna go fire up my motorcycle and pick up my lady

*puts on sunglasses*
*bad to the bone starts playing*

Anonymous said...


It is what it is!
Home is always the best place to be for me.

So great to see more pictures of Geronimo THE GREAT.

Gobble! Happy Thanksgiving!

Luv Ya,
Your PenMar Friend -- Linda Lee