Day 65 - Rice Field Shelter to Bailey Gap Shelter
Slept in a wee bit this morning, started hiking just before 8:00 am.
It was a nice morning walking on the ridge, easy terrain.
Fog and mist rolled in, followed by rain. Took a break at a trail crossing with Tuna, Connecticut Girl, David Bowie and 2 more people whose names I've forgotten. It was fun to be with people, which was surprising to me since I was SO done with people after Pearisburg.
Enjoyed another break at Pine Swamp Branch Shelter, chatted with Smooth D, shared his avocado.
Shortly after this shelter we passed The Captain's, a renowned trail stop, just across the stream from the AT. You take a zip line to cross the stream and arrive in The Captain's yard, where you are welcome to pitch a tent for the night. We missed the annual Hiker Feed by a few days, hosted 2 weeks after trail days.
After this we had a long, steep climb to Bailey Gap Shelter, where we are camped tonight.
It was a long hiking day, but ok. We listened to music for hours and no one was particularly low today. And earlier, while we were walking through the fog, the kids reminisced for what seemed like hours about their early childhood. Listening to them I thought, "these kids have had a good childhood". Something I need to be reminded of on this intense (sometimes grueling) family adventure. It was a happy mother moment.
@toesalad and I talked about future possibilities of traveling and adventure with base camp and how to set up our lives to support this. This was a fun, lighthearted, and optimistic conversation unlike some of the heavy and hard conversations of last week.
There are more days of rain forecasted but none at camp tonight.
Day 64 Pearisburg to Rice Field Shelter
After a fitful night's sleep shared with 20+ hikers, Smoking Bear's snoring, and the fluorescent glow of the Pepsi machine, I was relieved to get up this morning in anticipation of getting out of Dodge.
This is the end of the trail for my parent's hike with us and @hammerhead got a shuttle back to Damascus to pick up their car, about 2 hours there and 2 hours back to Pearisburg. It took us 2 weeks to hike that distance.
We took care of our re-supply this morning, sorting and re-packing our food bags and doing laundry. At check-out time we moved from the motel to the Dairy Queen where we "hung out", using wifi and doing our internet work with a spotty connection.
Dad rejoined us by this point and had a car, so he helped us with making 2 trips to the post office. It's getting too warm for our tights so we mailed those back along with the Bearpaw Wilderness Designs tent (we prefer our Tarp Tent).
Both @toesalad and I are frustrated with the work of town stops, no rest for the weary.
We said goodbye to my mom in the Dairy Queen parking lot and Dad drove us back to the trailhead .9 miles out of Pearisburg. I was very sad to be saying goodbye to my parents and getting back onto the trail, and Dad was sad to be leaving us.
I was downright miserable hiking out of town. My hip is bothering me today and it's hot and the pack is heavy with a 6 day load of food, our heaviest yet. The fragrant honeysuckle at the trailhead was a small consolation for my misery.
We crossed the bridge and hiked up behind the big factory in town. The trail here had been newly graded with a machine and was re-routed to a longer route to the shelter. Ugh. Lots of climbing.
We found wild strawberries off Pocahontas road, what a gift and way better tasting than the ones from the grocery store in town.
Our arrival at the shelter tonight was glorious. The view was magnificent from Rice Field and we saw Loon who is camped tonight out on the field.
We didn't arrive at the shelter till 8 pm, since we started out of town late at 4 pm. @toesalad prepared supper, as he always does and it was dark by the time I did the dishes.
I am grateful there is no one here tonight, other than Loon out in the field, past the fence. After a couple nights of crowds I'm happy for the privacy.
Day 63 - Wood's Hole Hostel to Pearisburg
11.1 trail miles, .9 miles into town
We left Wood's Hole Hostel this morning at 9:30 after a fabulous breakfast.
We had a good hike into Pearisburg, not too difficult and the kids were excited about the pool at the Holiday Lodge, as advertised in the A.T. Guide.
When we got into town we found all the regular rooms at the Holiday Motor Lodge and the Plaza Motel were booked (no room at the inn) because of temporary construction crews taking up most of the rooms. The only sleeping space left was the bunkroom, a converted storefront (that appears to be cheaply constructed) packed with twin motel beds and a couple vending machines, beside the driveway of the Holiday Motor Lodge. In addition, the pool was not yet filled for the season.
Our family was anticipating a night in motel room with air conditioning and privacy for $50, and a swim to cool off. Instead we had to pay for $20/person for 5 beds in the bunkroom, a space we are sharing with 20 other thru-hikers and a dog.
It is situations like this that make this journey seem surreal to me. A green bunkroom with 20 other hikers and a fluorescent lighted vending machine in the nowheresville Virginia, for $100. I couldn't dream this stuff up.
Our accommodations tonight are an adventure but I am sorely disappointed we don't have some privacy and I feel bad for the kids that they don't get to swim.
We went for supper at the Mexican restaurant and Damien went grocery shopping at the Wal-Mart on the edge of town and hitched a ride back with a friendly woman.
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