Saturday, May 28, 1994 (The Place, Damascus, Virginia) – I packed up by 11am this morning and after talking with Mom and Dad briefly, I grabbed some snacks from Bronn’s grocery on the way out of town. Zig (of the Rational Hedonists) offered Purple Haze and I a ride to Damascus today but the pick-up time had long come and gone. So I left my pack with Purple Haze and walked the 1.8 miles to the lake (where the A.T. crosses the highway) to find the Rational Hedonists who were also waiting on Zig’s girlfriend (DeeAnna). The Hedonists (minus Zig) were planning on slackpacking with Freebird and Rob to Damascus and wanted their gear transported ahead. DeeAnna ran way late and didn’t show until 4pm today, so we all spent most of the afternoon hanging out at the lake and watching all the Memorial Day activity (boats, fisherman, sunbathers, etc.) Maniac and Carbo Man walked off the trail this afternoon and joined us for the show. By 5pm, we had picked up Purple Haze (who waited 4+ hours at Brown’s grocery) and headed to Damascus with Zig and DeeAnna who had borrowed her brother’s car for the trip. Although DeeAnna was aware that the clutch was going bad in the car, it wasn’t until we were half way to Damascus that it completely went out (and we were unable to climb the last hill separating us from the town.) So Zig turned the car around and we coasted back to the valley and to a gas station/mini-mart that had a phone. Zig got the car towed to Bristol, and Purple Haze and I called Sutton Brown for a lift. He and his wife came after us and we arrived in Damascus as the sun was setting at 8:30pm. Sutton Brown is THE MAN! After checking in at The Place (which is the local church hostel), Purple Haze and I found Slowly and Surely at the local pizza joint. It was great to see them again, and the brews went down extremely well after a long day ironically spent “off” the trail. Back at The Place this evening, there were tons of Transcontinental Bicyclists who were doing a three month ride across the country. Caveman, Weeble (later Fugitive A), Do Dah Man and I walked through their “tent city” and headed to Dot’s for some more brews. Then I returned to The Place to watch Easy Rider with Caveman until 2am.
Mostly Sunny AM/PM Clear Night Upper 70’s Low 40’s/Upper 30’s
Sunday, May 29, 1994 (Creek Junction Campsite) – I spent most of the morning doing laundry and getting things packed up. The gravity pull of town had me thinking about spending another night in Damascus, but I decided to move on and stopped at the Dairy Queen for a burger and shake (and Neil Young’s Harvest Moon on the juke box) before I skipped town at 3pm. It was a ten mile hike via the Virginia Creeper Trail to Creek Junction and I made it there by 7pm to set up camp for the night. There were about six other thru-hikers in the area and we shared a campfire about 200 yards from my tent site, although Sleeper bailed on us. This is a really cool area with a long Rails-To-Trails bridge which we camped under this evening.
Mostly Sunny AM/PM Clear Night Upper 70’s Mid 50’s
Monday, May 30, 1994 (Thomas Knob Shelter Campsite) – I didn’t get out of the campsite until 10:15am today, but it was a nice morning with lots of climbing (which made for some slow going). On top of Whitetop Mountain, I met a guy from Wytheville, VA who was in a glider club with Sloane’s Dad in New Castle – small world. Dan McKiney and his wife hooked me up with a giant sub and it was so big that I got a cramp under my chin when I tried to devour it. They also offered up a cold can of 7-Up and I tried to share the feast with The Weight who walked up in the middle of the trail magic (but she doesn’t like mayo). By 6pm, I made it to the two story Thomas Knob Shelter after tripping on a rock and doing a Pete Rose dive about 500 yards before the shelter. Greg, The Lorax, and The Weight caught up with me after the incident and we moved on to a meadow with outstanding views to pitch the tents. It was chilly this evening at these higher elevations, but clear and pleasant. The 5000 foot hills made for great radio reception and I picked up a bunch of Charlotte stations (which I was also able to do between Hampton and Damascus.) Slawdog and I hiked this section when we lived in Charlotte so it was really cool to be back.
Mostly Sunny AM/PM Windy Clear Night Upper 70’s Low 40’s/Upper 30’s
Tuesday, May 31, 1994 (Trimpi Shelter Campsite) – I hiked from 9:30am to 5:45pm and did eighteen miles today skirting a section of the A.T. that I hiked this March by taking the Pine Mountain Trail from Rhododendron Gap. This apparently confused The Weight who couldn’t figure out how I got so far ahead of her. In the mid-afternoon I had a refreshing shower at the Hurricane Campground, but there were no services at the facility so I headed for Trimpi Shelter for the night. Dr. Doolittle (Terry) and her two dogs were at the shelter when I arrived and both of us had to camp since the shelter was overrun with school kids that were hiking a 40 mile section of the A.T. The camping options are pretty limited around here, but Dr. Doolittle and I did the best we could and actually had a pretty cool evening around the site.
Mostly Sunny AM/PM Clear Night 80’s 50’s
Wednesday, June 1, 1994 (Village Motel, Atkins, VA) – Left the Trimpi Shelter by 7am today with a great lunch break at the Mt. Rogers Recreational Headquarters where they had exhibits and most importantly – a cold drink machine. Cruised 22 miles into Atkins for the night, and arrived in town to find a lot of thru-hikers in the area staying at the Village Motel just off the A.T. Pitched in $10 and stayed with Wicked Ale, Black Sunshine, and Harry/Jade. Powered some brews on the motel porch, then went to dinner with my roomates and also with Texas Turtle, Trail Snail, High 5R, and Pocohontas who were staying nearby. The NBA playoffs were on latenight, so we watched TV and ended up catching Letterman latenight. I also spoke with Mom and Dad tonight. The last ten miles were a pleasure cruise this evening with nice terrain and great tunes including “King For A Day” by XTC which played on the Walkman as I left the forest and hit a strong breeze blowing under some powerlines. The hiking boots are worn out, and duct tape is the only thing holding them together at this point.
Mostly Sunny AM Partly Sunny PM Clear Night Low 80’s 50’s
Thursday, June 2, 1994 (O’Lystrey Pavillion) – Had breakfast with the Atkins motel group this morning, then headed back to the room to load the backpack. Made a stop at the Dairy Queen on the way out of town today, so I didn’t end up hitting the trail until 1:30pm. Hiked until 8pm to the O’Lystery Pavillion where there were about fifteen people staying tonight – most whom were in Atkins, VA yesterday. Wicked Ale and I had a late night Euchre game with the Wisconsin Brothers, and I also did a few card tricks. The campsite turned out to be pretty cool (despite being situated on a country road) and the company was very solid this evening.
Mostly Sunny AM Partly Sunny PM Thunderstorms PM Clear Night Upper 70’s 50’s
Friday, June 3, 1994 (Jenkins Shelter) – Hiked out of O’Lystrey Pavillion at roughly 9:30am with no intentions of doing a 20+ mile day, but I ended up hiking until 8:30pm and covered some serious ground. During the day, I saw most of the people that I camped with last night and at 7pm ran into Junior at VA 623. He is a trail angel that hauls water jugs to this gravel road for thirsty thru-hikers. Talked with Junior a bit then continued onto the Jenkins Shelter for the night. A southbounder named Anchor was in the shelter this evening. I tried to sleep in the lean-to with him but ended up pitching my tent at 1am since the bugs were keeping me awake. The rest of the group hiked to Davis Farm for the night.
Sunny AM/PM Clear Night Upper 70’s Mid 50’s
Saturday, June 4, 1994 (Bland Softball Park) – Got a late start at 10am today and hiked with Marathon Man to a bridge and road crossing at Laurel Creek within two hours. Marathon Man decided to hunt crayfish since he was low on food, and we worked the creek until 2pm gathering a nice stash of large crayfish and cooking them up. I only had a taste as Marathon Man was proud of his catch. Harry (aka Delta Force), Nomad, and Stickman caught up with us at the bridge and snapped some pictures for us. I hiked with Marathon Man (whose real name is Karl) and Harry the rest of the day. Delta Force is traveling with Jade, his Doberman Pincher, and she was looking tired by the time we reached US 52 which leads into Bland, VA. Hitched a ride into town with Nomad and picked up Harry/Jade on the way. They had decided to walk thinking it would be a tough hitch into town. Nomad and I spoke with the local Sheriff who gave us the green light to camp at a pavilion located next to the local softball fields. The motel at I-77 was full, so we didn’t really have any other options unless we went back to the trail. Our group had dinner at a nearby restaurant (which included Wicked Ale who we found in town), then we did some laundry, bought some brews, and finished them off at the pavilion until around 12:30am. Some curious locals shouted at us from a pick-up truck in the distance, but they turned out to be some local kids in a pick-up truck that were pretty friendly when we talked to them.
Sunny AM/PM Clear Night Low 80’s Mid 50’s
Sunday, June 5, 1994 (Big Walker Motel – Bland, VA) – Had a big breakfast with the group this morning, then walked to the high school on the hill to inquire about showers. The Weight talked the principal into letting us use their facilities then we hitched back to Bastian with Black Sunshine to hear some locals (with Levi as their point man) jam out some bluegrass tunes. Stickman joined them with a borrowed guitar. Everyone in the group was very talented. For the return trip to Bland, 10-12 of us jumped in the back of a pick-up truck and I ended up staying at the the Big Walker Motel tonight with Milpy and two section-hikers named Jordan and Alisha. We saw them hitching on the way back from Bastain and got a ride directly to the motel. In the evening, hit the Burger Boy for some food and a large shake with my roomies and ran into Texas Turtle, Trail Snail, Pocohontas, and High 5-R who also showed at Levi’s this afternoon and were staying at the motel. It was great to spend the brutally hot and humid weather indoors this evening.
Sunny AM/PM Humid, Hazy AM/PM Clear Night Low 90’s Mid 70’s
Monday, June 6, 1994 (Jenny Knob Shelter) – I was well rested when I woke up this morning around 8am. It was nice to be in an air-conditioned motel room last night and away from the insects. Went to breakfast in Bland with Texas Turtle, Trail Snail, High 5-R, Pocohontas, Milpy, and Jordan/Alisha. Then walked to the post office to buy some food and send some things ahead on the trail (in what is now commonly called a “bounce” box). Milpy and I caught a ride out of town at noon to the I-77 crossing of the A.T. at US 52 then hiked about twelve miles to Jenny Knob Shelter. The miles went fast, and we ended up tented out with Noman, Black Sunshine, The Weight, CR, Harry/Jade, Marathon Man, and Jordan/Alisha tonight. Played a game of hearts until the rain rolled in about 8pm. We had some heavy thunderstorms tonight but it was a fun evening nonetheless.
Partly Sunny AM/PM Humid, Hazy PM Thunderstorms PM P. Clear Night Low 90’s 70’s
Tuesday, June 7, 1994 (Dismal Falls Campsite) – Everyone was up early at the shelter this morning with ten hikers leaving the campsite by 8:30am. I hiked six miles with Marathon Man and by noon we had reached VA 606 and a suspension bridge over the river. It was quite humid by then and we noticed two utility workers enjoying a rope swing about 50 yards downstream as we crossed the bridge. Marathon Man and I joined them immediately, then I talked Black Sunshine and The Weight into joining us when they crossed the river about 15 minutes later.
After the refreshing dip, the utility workers hauled us 0.2 miles down VA 606 to Trent’s Country Store which had snacks and cold drinks. By now, it was getting really hot and we enjoyed a lazy afternoon at the roadside gas station and sat in the shade for at least two hours. During the break, we looked at our map and noticed a yellow-blazed side trail (which was the old A.T.) heading back toward Dismal Creek Falls. So we decided to grab some brews and follow country road 607 until the yellow blazes rejoined the Appalachian Trail. It turned out to be a great call with Harry/Jade, Jordan/Alisha, and some locals there when we arrived.
We enjoyed our beers at the waterfall, lounged around the rest of the afternoon, and watched Marathon Man catch, clean and cook a trout. I had a taste and was surprised how good it was with a dash of lemon. After we cooked the rest of our dinner, a thunderstorm hit in force around 7pm. We all scrambled to our tents and spent the the rest of the evening huddled in our tents. It was kind of a bummer but the day was a great one.
Sunny AM Humid, Hazy PM Thunderstorms PM P. Clear Night Low 90’s 70’s
Wednesday, June 8, 1994 (Woods Hole Hostel) – Packed up the tent in drizzle this morning with Marathon Man and hiked with him to Wapiti Shelter. We were the last two to leave the falls campsite this morning, and it was wet most of the day. Had lunch at the shelter and enjoyed a semi-cold beer this afternoon that I packed up from the falls. Spent the rest of the afternoon hiking solo to Woods Hole where I arrived too late to secure a mattress in the loft. Ended up pitching a tent next to the cabin, and by the end of the night we had 12-15 hikers here. Some chose to sleep on the 1st floor of the structure. Woods Hole is a great place, with a very friendly owner named Tillie who runs the place and cooks breakfast for all the visitors. The cabin reminded me a bit of the cabin in Beaverstone Bay, and we had a mega game of Hearts here this evening with Black Sunshine, Harry (aka Delta Force), The Weight, Pocohontas, Trail Snail, and C.R. who mostly watched. It was a great time with a solid crowd tonight.
Drizzle AM Rain AM/PM Brief Sun PM Cloudy/Rain Night Upper 70’s Lower 70’s
Thursday, June 9, 1994 (Rendezvous Motel – Pearisburg, VA) – Tillie invited eight of us into her cabin for breakfast this morning, and by 7:30am we were all enjoying a hot meal before hitting the trail in the rain. I was the last to leave Woods Hole this morning, and hiked ten miles to Pearisburg mostly in the clouds which made for damp clothes and gear upon arrival. The Rendevous Motel is right off the trail, so The Weight, Black Sunshine, C.R., Pocohontas, and I got three rooms and hit the showers. We followed that with some food and beer at Pizza Hut, then spent some time washing clothes at a nearby laundry mat. Betty, who runs the motel, picked us up when we were finished which saved a two mile walk back to the motel and we spent the rest of the evening watching TV: Simpsons, Seinfeld, Letterman, etc.
Drizzle AM Rain AM Cloudy PM Cloudy Night Low 70’s Upper 60’s
Friday, June 10, 1994 (Rendezvous Motel – Pearisburg, VA) – Dan from the motel took Pocohontas, C.R., and Nomad to the local hostel this morning, then dropped off Black Sunshine, The Weight and I at Stoney Creek which is twenty-two miles north on the Appalachian Trail. We slackpacked our way back to Pearisburg this afternoon which took us from 10:30am to 7pm when we finally crossed the bridge over a river that led back to town. It was a long, wet day and twenty miles is no breeze in these mountains regardless if there is a pack on your back. I immediately hit the shower upon arrival and waited for Mom and Dad who showed up soon after I returned to the motel. We went to dinner at Anna’s in the nearby town of Narrows, then I spent the rest of the evening going through letters and bank statements that have accumulated in my absence. Mom and Dad went to bed early, but I was up until 1am reading my mail.
Cloudy AM/PM Drizzle AM/PM Rain AM/PM Cloudy Night Low 70’s Upper 60’s
Saturday, June 11, 1994 (War Spur Shelter) – Mom and Dad took me to the Post Office at 8:30am this morning, then we drove to the hostel to pick-up The Weight and Black Sunshine for the drive to Blacksburg. My hiking boots were pretty beat up, and we stopped at a local outfitter in town where I received (compliments of Merrell) a $140 credit on my worn out footware. I decided to replace them with some leather Asolo boots which ran $170 total. For $30, this was the best deal in town. The outfitter was also kind enough to hook me up with a free replacement part for my stove, so I lucked out in the gear department this morning. From Blacksburg, Mom and Dad drove us back to the Stoney Creek trailhead (where we started our southern slackpack yesterday), and we hiked about ten miles northbound to the War Spur Shelter this evening. Spent most of the time hiking solo with only a few minutes between us, and arrived to find the shelter empty tonight. The bugs were aggressive at dusk, so after dinner we decided to pitch our tents tonight.
Cloudy AM Partly Sunny PM Clear Night Low 70’s Upper 60’s
Sunday, June 12, 1994 (Sarver Cabin Campsite) – We left the War Spur Shelter this morning with intentions of making it to Widay, VA. Passed by an old, abandon, yet sturdy mountain house as we hiked along the trail, and spent some time exploring the inside of it. I expect the government bought this land recently to protect the A.T. corridor and has not yet torn down the building. Hit Sinking Creek Valley at VA 42 and on a whim The Weight decided to stick out her thumb. She scored a ride within seconds and we caught a ride 1.3 miles to a small grocery store to eat entirely too much junk food. The store had a grill, so I immediately ordered some burgers and onion rings and enjoyed the air-conditioned building. The Weight, true to her charm, also scored us a ride back to the trail within minutes of finishing our food. The full bellies and hot weather made for a long climb from VA 42, however, and by the time we reached the turnoff to Sarver’s Cabin we were ready to call it a night. Unfortunately, the area around the old cabin was pretty unimpressive (in contrast to the house we explored earlier today). It was mostly overgrown with numerous weeds, trash, and junked-out buildings that littered the premises. The hike down to the ghetto was not particularly easy either – a long, and steep decent over a seldom used trail. Nonetheless, the company was good and we had a fire tonight which made for a pleasant evening.
Sunny AM/PM Humid, Hazy AM/PM Clear Night Mid 80’s Mid 70’s
Monday, June 13, 1994 (Trout Creek Campsite) – Packed up and was on the trail with the Weight and Black Sunshine by 8:30am this morning. The terrain was moderate today, but it was really hot and humid. Took a long break at the Niday Shelter then decided to blue-blaze along the road this afternoon to find a creek and cool off under a bridge. Walked the road to Trout Creek and met Mr. and Mrs. Taylor who were sitting on their front porch when we hiked by their house. They invited us up for some ice water and we chatted with them for about an hour this afternoon to wait out the heat. Made it to Trout Creek by 5:30pm and enjoyed the road walk today. We decided to get up early tomorrow to beat the heat and collectively sacked out around 9am tonight.
Sunny AM/PM Humid Thunderstorms PM Clear Night Mid 80’s Mid 70’s
Tuesday, June 14 1994 (Best Western – Cloverdale, VA) – The Weight, Black Sunshine, and I got up at 5am this morning to try and beat the heat. It didn’t get terribly hot on the trail until around 11am when we hiked to a road near Catawba and hitched to the Post Office and a nearby grocery. I was able to get Grimes (aka Hawkeye) on the phone and he had an hour to spare to shuttle us into Cloverdale. Grimes is heading to Roanoke later this afternoon for a flight to the Bahamas with Zopp, but was gracious enough to drive up here from Roanoke to help us out. In Cloverdale, we checked into the Best Western and got a room that we later shared with Ski when he showed up around 6pm. Spent the afternoon at the pool with the Motor City Ramblers (Bob/Diane), Cheesasaurus, and Nols/Nikki in addition to those mentioned. It was a festive afternoon with the consumption of many brews and an incredibly inviting pool during an oppressively hot day. We all went to Western Sizzlin’ for dinner this evening then came back to watch some T.V. Spoke with Mo, Mackie, and Elizabeth (aka Sister) late night.
Sunny AM/PM Hot, Hazy, Humid Clear Night Low 90’s Upper 70’s
Wednesday, June 15 1994 (Best Western – Cloverdale, VA) – Black Sunshine, The Weight, and I were up at 7am this morning to meet the shuttle service that took us twenty miles southbound along the A.T. to slackpack back to the Cloverdale Best Western. We missed a small section of trail in the process, and were immediately affected by some wickedly hot hiking weather. Black Sunshine thus resolved to avoid the 11am-3pm hours whenever it is this humid, and The Weight and I both agreed to that. We finished the day at the Best Western swimming pool after hiking from 8am-4pm. The trail passes right behind the motel, so we quickly noticed our trail buddies congregating in the water and joined them immediately without visiting our room. For dinner, I walked to a nearby Pizza Hut and ended up enjoying a solo meal. Most of the group went to the Western Sizzlin’ which I visited last night and I wasn’t up for another trip tonight. Ski moved on today, so it was just Black Sunshine, The Weight, and I at the motel room tonight. We watched some more TV this evening, and I spoke again with Mo and Mackie about rendezvous along the trail.
I later had a chance to make-up the 6.3 miles that we missed near Catawba, VA with The Seeker and his wife in May 1996. It’s largely cow pasture land, but we had an enjoyable overnight trip on this section of trail until The Seeker got extremely winded and was later diagnosed with a heart condition.
Sunny AM/PM Hot, Hazy, Humid Clear Night Low 90’s Upper 70’s
Thursday, June 16 1994 (Mackie’s Parents – Roanoke, VA) – Had a lazy morning today after a big breakfast at Shoney’s with The Weight and Black Sunshine. Walked to the Winn Dixie to do some shopping, then checked out of the Best Western at 1pm to take a cab to the Valley View mall and see City Slickers. Played a round of putt-putt and some games in the arcade, then had lunch and drinks at the Spinacker’s bar in the mall. Black Sunshine and I particularly enjoyed the brews. By 9pm, Mackie had met up with us and it was amazing how fast the afternoon went. He dropped Black Sunshine and The Weight off back at the Best Western, and we drove to Roanoke to join his parents for dinner. Black Sunshine and The Weight planned to hike two miles and camp along the A.T. this evening, and I hoped to meet up with them again soon. By 11:30pm, Mackie and I had finished a huge meal with his folks in Roanoke and I had crashed out for the night after a great zero mileage day.
Sunny AM/PM Humid Thunderstorms PM Clear Night Mid 80’s Mid 70’s
Friday, June 17 1994 (Wilson Creek Shelter) – Slept in until 10am at Mackie’s parent’s place this morning, then we made some sandwiches and hit the road about 2pm. Stopped at the mall on the way out of town to hit the bank and buy Dad a book for Father’s Day. Mackie then drove 7-8 miles up Forest Road 191 to the Appalachian Trail where I stashed my backpack in the woods. From there, we returned to the Best Western and hit the pool and socialized briefly with some thru-hikers that were at the motel this afternoon. Hit the trail at 4:40pm and really enjoyed the first few miles hiking out of Cloverdale – especially without a backpack. Made great time as a result to Forest Road 191 where I picked up my pack, then hiked another three miles to Wilson Creek Shelter for the night. I did nearly twelve miles in four hours with the light load and rolled into the shelter around 9pm. The Weight, Black Sunshine, and Port-A-Can Dan were there when I arrived, so I joined them for a late dinner then hit the rack by 11pm.
Sunny AM/PM Humid Thunderstorms 7PM Clear Night Low 90’s Mid 70’s
Saturday, June 18 1994 (Cove Mountain Shelter) – Started hiking by 7am this morning to beat the heat, and knocked out about eight miles by 11am. Walked some of the Blue Ridge Parkway which followed the trail and ran parallel to it. Then took the afternoon off from 11am to 6pm at Bobblets Shelter with The Weight, Black Sunshine, Port-A-Can Dan, Beer, Harry (aka Delta Force) & Jade, and Earplug. It was much nicer hiking this evening and we did another six miles to the Cove Mountain Shelter to camp for the night. Looked through Blind Courage which I plan to give to Dad for Father’s Day when I see him on Sunday.
Sunny AM/PM Humid Clear Night Low 90’s Mid 70’s
Sunday, June 19 1994 (Jellystone Campground) – Hiked into Jellystone Campground by 10:30-11am this morning and had a great day at the place. Ate pizza and chili dogs for lunch, then hit the waterslide and pool with the Weight, Black Sunshine, Beer, and Port-A-Can Dan. We collectively pounded numerous brews, played video games in the arcade, and also enjoyed a game of pool this afternoon. Mom and Dad rolled into the campground around 4-5pm and rented a cabin for the night. Went to dinner with them and invited Black Sunshine and The Weight along for the meal. We drove a short distance to Peaks Of Otter for an AYCE buffet then headed back to the Jellystone Campground by 9pm. I spent the rest of the night helping Dad get his gear together for our trip on the A.T. the next few days. Spoke with Mo late night and also took a shower before I sacked out in the cabin.
Sunny AM/PM Humid Thunderstorms PM Clear Night Upper 80’s Mid 70’s
Monday, June 20 1994 (Cornelius Creek Shelter) – Mom drove Dad and I to Petites Gap this morning for a ten mile southbound hike on the A.T. to Cornelius Creek Shelter. Beer and Port-A-Can Dan joined us for the ride but decided to skip 18+ miles of trail and continue northbound. It was a hot afternoon of hiking, and Dad and I took a long break at the Thunder Hill Shelter. I enjoyed the hike with Dad today and he did very well for coming out and hiking ten miles in this heat. We camped at Cornelius Creek this evening with a group of court-order kids and three adult leaders that were part of a rehabilitation program. All were very nice, and Dad/I spoke with them in detail this evening.
Sunny AM Partly Sunny PM Hazy/Humid Upper 80’s Mid 70’s
Tuesday, June 21 1994 (Peaks Of Otter Hotel Room) – Dad and I were on the trail by 7:30am this morning and hiked 6.7 miles back to Jellystone Campground from the Cornelius Creek Shelter. Stopped briefly at the recently built Bryant Ridge Shelter and took a break. It is the largest, and coolest shelter that I’ve seen thus far on the A.T. and we took a number of photos of the structure which must have taken some time to construct. By 11:30am, we were back at Jellystone Campground to get lunch, buy some groceries for the next section of trail, and wait for Mom who showed up just after noon. We returned to the Peaks of Otter lodge where Mom and Dad got a room and I caught a quick shower. Mom then drove me back to Petite’s Gap so that I could hike another 10.3 miles northbound to the James River minus the backpack. I started to feel sick as soon as I left the trailhead, and by evening was struck down with a stomach illness. Mom and Dad headed to dinner, but I felt bad enough that I didn’t leave the bed for the rest of the night.
Sunny AM/PM Humid Clear Night Upper 80’s Mid 70’s
Wednesday, June 22 1994 (Peaks Of Otter Hotel Room) – I was still feeling very ill when I woke this morning, so Mom and Dad decided to extend their stay at Peaks of Otter and reserve the room for an extra day. I was lucky to be struck down while they were in the area, and slept most of the morning as a result. By noon, Mom and Dad had cabin fever and invited me to take a drive with them to Roanoke. We saw a mother and two baby bobcats cross the road during the drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway, but my stomach was so unsettled in the van that I ended up sleeping for most of the trip. By evening, I was feeling much better and was able to eat a little at the Peaks Of Otter restaurant (which is a really nice place). Took a major power nap after dinner, then loaded my backpack with groceries for the rest of the week.
Sunny AM/PM Hot, Hazy, Humid Clear Night Upper 80’s Mid 70’s
Thursday, June 23 1994 (Punchbowl Shelter) – Mom and Dad dropped me off at the James River at 10am this morning after I stashed my pack off the Blue Ridge Parkway at mile marker 51.7. Slackpacked 11.4 miles to the Punchbowl Shelter just before a BIG thunderstorm rolled through the area, and decided to stay put for the night. Once the storm cleared the area, I walked a short distance to get my backpack off the Parkway at mile marker 51.7, then returned to the shelter to camp by the pond this evening. There were lots of active pond critters tonight, and I was joined by another group of court-order kids that were all well mannered and were decent campmates this evening.
Sunny AM/PM Humid Thunderstorms PM Clear Night Mid 80’s Mid 70’s
I skipped a section from the Blue Ridge Parkway (just past the Punchbowl Shelter) to Waynesboro, VA in 1994, but later made it up during three separate hikes in May 1996 including a section from the BRP Mile 51.7 to the Mau Har Trail, another from Rockfish Gap to BRP 9.6, and finally the portion between BRP 9.6 and VA 664 (Reeds Gap) at Waynesboro. Mackie and I had hiked between the Mau Har Trail and Rockfish Gap trailheads back in November 1993, and I decided not to repeat this section of trail.
Friday, June 24 1994 (Mackie’s House – Richmond, VA) – Greg (aka Sundown) and I hiked to the Blue Ridge Parkway this morning and waited 2 1/2 hours for a hitch to US 60. By 11am we still didn’t have a ride, so we started hiking along the road to get picked up about two miles later. At US 60, we stuck out our thumbs again and within twenty minutes caught a second ride from a nice older man and rode in the bed of his pick-up truck. He stopped so we could buy some cold drinks then dropped us off directly at Rusty’s Hard Time Hollow. By 3pm, we were sitting on the front porch at Rusty’s and there was a mob of thru-hikers on the premises. We played some horseshoes, enjoyed some grilled cheese sandwiches (courtesy of Rusty), and whacked soda cans across the front driveway via a plastic baseball bat.
In the late afternoon, I met a fellow thru-hiker named Skip who was one of the few people carrying a portable cell phone on his hike. He offered to let me use it and after climbing 500 feet up a nearby hill, I was able to get a signal. To my surprise, Mackie answered my call at work and by 5:15pm had committed to picking me up for a party in Richmond this evening. I hung out at the Hollow until about 9:30pm when Mackie showed up with a co-worker named Jeff. We drove back to Richmond by 11:30pm and enjoyed a raging keg party at Mackie’s house which lasted until 5am in “The Fan” near downtown. After a late night hunger binge that had me cooking pasta with my Whisperlite on the front porch, I sacked out in my sleeping bag on the sofa. It was an exciting day to say the least.
Sunny AM/PM Humid Thunderstorms PM Clear Night Upper 80’s Mid 70’s
Saturday, June 25 1994 (Waynesboro Fire Station) – Slept until 11am this morning, then went to lunch with Mackie and his roommates to sit outside at a nearby restaurant . It was sunny and cooler today, and perfect weather for being outside. Did some laundry and watched TV in the afternoon, then Mackie took me back to the trail around 7:30pm. We made a brief stop at Emily’s on the way out of town and caught up with her briefly. She is attending VCU, but just got back in town this evening and missed the party last night. Stopped at Subway for a 9pm dinner, then Mackie dropped me off at the Waynesboro Fire Station where I camped out with Karen and Ivan this evening. We were all asleep by 11pm.
Sunny AM/PM Breezy Clear Night Lower 80’s Upper 60’s
Sunday, June 26 1994 (Calf Mountain Shelter) – Felt pretty rotten when I woke this morning with a heavy case of the trots taunting me during the day. Dad gave me antibiotics for an illness that struck earlier in the week, but I stopped taking them in Richmond and paid for it dearly. Decided to hang out in town to be near the toilet and bought groceries and saw a movie to pass the time. Watched Wolf with Jack Nicholas and Michelle Pfiffer which was a decent film and only cost me $4 as a matinee. Decided to hitch out of town around 5pm, and rode with a couple that loaded me in the bed of their pick-up truck with 3-4 children and some spare and extremely greasy car parts. Sometimes the people that give the most out here are the ones that seem to have the least.
Reached the trailhead by 5:30pm, and hiked 7-8 miles this evening to Calf Mountain Shelter. Arrived after three hours on the A.T. just as a major thunderstorm blanketed the area with rain and lightening. It lasted well into the night, and I was surprised to find myself alone here this evening. Karen and Ivan left town a few hours before me, and this seemed like a logical place for them to hole up for the night – especially with the approaching storm. I slept well, nonetheless, and enjoyed the hiking this evening with some cooler temps, nice breezes on the knobs, and lack of bugs in the area. This was the first night I spent alone in a shelter since leaving Springer Mountain over two months ago.
Sunny AM Thunderstorms PM Rain Overnight Mid 80’s Upper 50’s
Monday, June 27 1994 (Loft Mountain Campground) – Had a demoralizing start to the day this morning with heavy rain that lasted until 10am. Once it stopped, I was able to hike roughly twenty miles walking from 10am to 6pm this afternoon. Saw my first black bear on the A.T. as I rounded a corner and descended through a green forest. It stood briefly on its hind legs to check me out, then ambled off in the bush. I also spotted Shannon (aka Cheeseasaurs) briefly and spoke with her, but she never showed at the Loft Mountain Campground this evening. The rain picked up again as I walked into the campground around 6pm, so I hit the shower and feasted on some snacks. Bob (from the Motor City Ramblers) ventured by as I waited out the downpour and invited me to join him at his campsite. Diane (also from the Motor City Ramblers), his niece Babbles, Oskie and Tired Dogs were at the site when I arrived. Had a good time hanging out with them, and made some phone calls to Mom/Dad, Mo and Snyder before sacking out.
Cloudy AM Rain AM/PM Thunderstorms PM Mid 80’s Upper 50’s
At this point in my thru-hike, I gave up on trying to reach Harper’s Ferry, WV by July 4th to catch a commuter train to Baltimore where I planned to meet Mo for a week at the beach. Call it trail burn-out or laziness, but I didn’t want to hike the 18+ miles per day required to stay on schedule. I later regretted this decision (which technically started back at the Punchbowl Shelter on June 24th) and made up these miles in May 1996 when I hiked the Loft Mountain Campground to Front Royal (US 522), Front Royal (US 522) to Keys Gap (WV 9), and Keys Gap (WV 9) to Harper’s Ferry sections.
Tuesday, June 28 1994 (Big Meadows Campground) – Left the Loft Mountain Campground with Bob’s parents this morning and checked into the Big Meadows Campground by 10am to pitch my tent with the Motor City Ramblers. Karen and Ivan rolled into the area a few hours later and joined us for the night. Spent the day walking the campground and checking out the visitor’s center, lodge, and the two ARA restaurants where we had lunch and dinner. Played Euchre in the evening, then went to the taproom for some non-alcoholic beers and acoustic guitar. (I’m still taking antibiotics and don’t want to have a relapse like I did in Waynesboro.) Made a few phone calls from the lodge to Sloane, KC, and Mo, then our group hiked back to the campsite by 11pm under a canopy of stars.
Sunny AM/PM Breezy Clear Night Lower 80’s Lower 50’s
Wednesday, June 29 1994 (Super 8 Motel – Front Royal, VA) – I left the Big Meadows Campground this morning in the back of a pick-up truck headed for Front Royal. Karen and Ivan managed to score the hitch at the Wayside and invited me to join them for the trip to town. The driver dropped us at Panorama where he exited the park, so we had lunch and found another ride to the parking area by the Gravel Springs Hut. Hiked down to the shelter to wait out a big thunderstorm, then walked part of the Skyline Drive for a few miles. We ran into Peeps who was happy to see us on the trail and joined us for our road walking adventure. As we approached an overlook, another big storm rolled through the area and we scrambled to get under a rain fly that Ivan pulled from his backpack.
Suddenly, the rain began and we noticed a panicked Asian man and his family in the parking area a short distance away. The man had accidentally locked his keys in the still running rental car, and his wife and infant baby were getting pounded by the thunderstorm. Ivan offered up his poncho, and the rest of us donned our rain gear to aid the distraught family. I was able to flag down a passing motorist who offered up a coat hanger, and Peeps went to work on the lock. After a failed attempt by both he and I, the Asian man took over and succeeded in opening the door. He was so grateful, he said “You take 10 dollar.” We refused, but did finish off his left over pizza. An off duty park ranger drove by and must have been confused by the scene. He stopped, was amused with the event, and offered us a ride into Front Royal. We graciously accepted and checked in to a Super 8 to all share a room for the night. KFC was nearby, and after we got cleaned up we finished the evening with a late meal at the restaurant. The skies cleared after dark and it was a nice evening.
Sunny AM Thunderstorms PM Clear Night Mid 80’s Upper 50’s
(As I stated after the June 27th entry, I completed the Front Royal to Harper’s Ferry section on two separate hikes in May 1996 when I hiked from Front Royal (US 522) to Keys Gap (WV 9), and Keys Gap (WV 9) to Harper’s Ferry. Follow this link to continue reading about the West Virginia and Maryland section in 1994.