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Appalachian Trail... photos and journal

Spring of 2002... In the upper south...


(Page 2 of 7 pages)


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The trail crosses a lot of rolling farmland in Virginia.


From my journal(May 9th) Day-23..."Beautiful sunrise this morning with a great view of the valley below flooded with a low fog. It was a very hot morning, which started out by hiking through several parcels of rolling farmland where the cows were busy grazing. I washed some of my socks in the creek early so theyd have a chance to dry after hanging them on the back of my pack.

The climb up to Chestnut Knob Shelter was forever but offered great views. By this time the day had become very windy and I stopped at Walker Gap to cook a meal and to take a 20-minute power nap. It was then a nice ridge walk but a thunderstorm made the hike interesting. I soon became soaking wet then ended the day sloshing through Fox Creek for several miles. Should sleep well tonight. "


This fellow appears ready to reach out and shake my hand!

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Chestnut Knob Shelter right on top of the mountain.


From my journal(May 10th) Day-24..."I had to set up my tarptent in the near dark last night but I did manage to put one more steep climb behind me. The trail today was certainly a super highway comparatively speaking with the trail further south in mind. It was fairly easy cruising on mostly flat trail weaving itself around the ridges.

Met lots of new hikers today, many of which were planning for pizza at Dismal Creek Falls. I opted to keep cruising with Pearisburg in mind. At Highway 606 I debated on whether to hitch into the store and finally decided that I had just enough food to keep on moving. Camped tonight in Big Horse Gap under some big white pine trees as the wind does howl. "


The old rangers cabin at the conjunction of Ribble Trail.


From my journal(May 11th) Day-25..."Another mouse got into my tarptent during the night but it woke me up and I beat it out into the wilds although I knocked down a tent pole in doing so. It was a very welcomed cool night as a cold front moved over the area. Deer also moved through the gap during the night with their usual dismay at my presence. The gap was a nicely protected spot to camp as the wind blew strongly above in the white pine tops making a mystical whisking sound like something out of middle earth in the Hobbit.

I rested well on the pine needles but I still had decided to take a rest day in Pearisburg when I arrived about mid day. It was a nice morning walk in the cool air as the trail followed nicely graded old logging roads part of the way. There were a few nice overlook views of the New river valley far below which could do no less than lift my spirit to be on the trail.

I ended up getting a room at the Holiday Motor Lodge which is very hiker friendly and had rooms at a hiker special rate of just $30.00! I suspect that it will take me about 8 days to reach Waynesboro at about 225 miles north so Im resting and eating now for the big haul about to come. "


Pearisburg, Virginia


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That's Pearisburg from the ridge just before the descent into town. Also notice the patchy reflections of the New River on the north side of town.


From my journal(May 12th) Day-26..."24 hours of rest was nice in Pearisburg and much needed, but at the generous 1:00 p.m. check out time I was raring to start hiking again. My next big goal is Waynesboro at about 225 miles and probably 8 days. Leaving town I crossed over the long New River Bridge on such a hot and muggy afternoon, and then it was a long steep climb back up to the ridge where nice breeze was so welcomed. Coming into Pearisburg I had dropped and broke my SWA water filter so until I can get a replacement its really inconvenient having to do the iodine treatment thing.

I was so full with energy this afternoon and must have been cruising over 3mph much of the time on a sometimes rocky, but overall nicely graded trail. A couple of ridge top meadows offered beautiful views into West Virginia. I also stopped to talk with several other hikers along the way who had set up their tents. There were so many deer on the ridge this evening and even one albino! The trail is usually so full with life from about 6:00 p.m. to dark each day and my favorite time to be hiking. I finally found a small-undocumented spring on this dry ridge then hiked another mile to the Allegheny Trail junction where I had to squeeze in with all the deer here to make camp. Not a bad day! "


Another one of the many garter snakes along the way.

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This fellow blended in almost perfectly with the foilage making it more invisible to its many predators.


From my journal(May 13th) Day-27..."This ended up being one of those very wet hiking days wet socks, wet shoes, wet clothing and just wet everything, but somehow I still churned out more than 30 miles. When up on the ridge the hiking was mostly fine, but there were a lot of valley crossings and a lot of rocks on the trail. With todays rain came a cold front and heavy winds with this last ridge being very treacherous with a lot of rock scrambling in the cold wind. It was a beautiful sight when the trail finally dropped off the ridge and I found a spring, then a secure campsite. "


I found this rock wedged very snug in the fork of this tree near Bailey Gap Shelter. Sort of interesting how the tree enveloped the rock placed there by a hiker many years ago.

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More deer near Kelly Knob!

It is said that this white oak is the oldest tree on the entire trail.


From my journal(May 14th) Day-28..."This was a slow hiking day but I moved consistently across some very tough and rocky terrain while contending with very strong winds plus the coldest day since the Smokies. Like yesterday the trail would follow the high ridge for miles, then dip down to the valley, then back up to another ridge. This was also one of the driest sections of the trail and thanks to the trail angels at the highway crossings I got enough water to cook my meal. It was a highlight to reach McAfee Knob late this afternoon for a great view, then on to Campbell Shelter where I m set up in a small green grass field nearby overlooking the night lights of Roanoke. Sure hope that the wind dies down! "


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More cows and rolling pasture land as I made my way through Virginia.

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