Monday, June 25, 2007

Update - Waynesboro, VA

Today we hiked the 5 miles to Rockfish Gap at A.T. mile 848.1 and are enjoying a "nero" (that's a near zero day, for those just joining us) in Waynesboro, VA.

Fireworks Flowers

At Rockfish Gap we called and enjoyed a ride from local trail angels Walt and Pat (veteran PCT and CDT hikers - their last journal here). Tonight we are actually staying with them since they've invited us into their home. It's great to be able to share our experiences from the trail with people who can immediately relate.

In the morning Walt and Pat dropped us off at Weasie's Diner where I demolished the Big Boy Breakfast - a nice stack of pancakes, grits, home fries and eggs with endless mugs of coffee. At this point calories are calories, and I enjoyed every one of them. In fact, we average about 4500 calories per day, but one day recently I polished off 6300 calories in one day! This day, however, Lauren held out for some more diabetic-friendly food at Kroger.

Looking Back at the James River

We've been out on the trail for 8 weeks now and continue to feel strong and amazed that we're blessed to have the experience. It is a refreshing time for us emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually and has been an amazing context for deepening our relationship.

This past week we encountered three more bear, bringing our trip total to 17. We also met our first copperhead and rattlesnakes, which, by the way, is a great way to get the adrenaline pumping when you encounter one mid-stride and come to a screeching halt. It has also become obvious that Shenandoah National Park is right around the corner since the deer are completely fearless and border on nuisance, except for the two adorable spotted fawn we saw this week.

Sometimes I am amazed that Lauren and I still have things to talk about after nearly six years of marriage and more than 800 miles of trail. Comfortable silence can be great too, but this week we seemed to have plenty to talk about. Our conversations ranged from the intellectual heights of "My Architect" and the architectural theories of Louis Kahn - to the depths of Sol Rosenburg, Tarbaj the Egyptian Magician and any other Jerky Boys crank calls that my brothers and I had memorized back in my impressionable youth.

On top of The Preist Mountain Figgy and I met a troop of Boy Scouts who were training for a big trip to Philmont. I see not much has changed since my backpacking trips as a scout. Same gargantuan packs that I very clearly remember were not comfortable to haul up and down the mountains. Too bad, since so much lighter and more functional gear is now available. Anyway, it's great to see people exploring the great outdoors. Good luck fellas, and have a blast out west!

On Top of Spy Rock

Photo from Spy Rock after a hot and exhausting climb.

Virginia has been a varied mix of rocky outcroppings with vistas, wooded forests, open pastureland, rhododendron thickets, cold streams, slow going rock-strewn trail, easy ridgewalks and views from the Blue Ridge Parkway. And we begin the Shenandoah's tomorrow for our final leg of Virginia. With all the variety we have no idea why some hikers get the "Virginia Blues" - It's hard to believe we've almost completed the trail's longest state.

A scary moment

One evening with less than 1/4 mile to camp I heard strange chanting noises coming from below (We later found it was a couple vanloads of a youth group). While distracted and looking below toward the noise I tangled my feet in a fallen branch and took a serious spill. In the process I landed hard on my side and ended up with either a couple seriously bruised or cracked ribs. On the first night when I laid down I was unable to breathe and it was excruciatingly painful, but fortunately apart from that I've been able to hike normally with very little effect.

Feeling at home

We continue to feel comfortable on the trail and this week it has been home more than ever. On Thursday our friend Joseph met us in Glasgow and asked us if there is anything we missed. Truthfully, we have everything we need and the luxuries of town life are never really more than a week away, anyway. We've never been too hot or cold. Our food is nutritious and satisfying. We're always dry and comfortable at night. The scenery is engaging and constantly changing. Conversation is usually pretty good. What more could we ask for? When pressed for an answer of some sort, we said we'd love more fresh vegetables and Lauren could go for an episode of Oprah!

1 comment:

  1. You guys are such an inspiration. I am jealous of your journey as I finish my school year- I teach elem. school and just got done on Friday. I long for the chance to plan a long hike, possibly the AT. I also just watched a special on TV about the trail, totally awesome.