Pearisburg to Waynesboro

Posted on: Wednesday March 21, 2018 Appalachian Trail

This post was written in my sleeping bag at the end of a long day. Please excuse any errors.

pearisburg-to-waynesboro Handy is a fantastic host at Angel’s rest, shuttling us around and feeding us. We can only stay for the night though- we have 24 miles to crush. We get a late start: 9:30 by the time we’re on trail. Scoutmaster and Old Soul got off trail earlier than Overhill and I (who I might have accidentally called Underhill in my last blog, oops), so we have two separate starts. I hike slow with Overhill, talking about life and the PCT. We don’t remember meeting on trail, but we know so many of the same people and we swap stories

pearisburg-to-waynesboro We take a break at the first shelter, and after 20 minutes, Scoutmaster and Old Soul roll up. We hike together along a ridge, then drop down to a road. There’s a short, sharp climb up to our home for the night- a thousand feet in just a mile. A section hiker is there with a fire going already. pearisburg-to-waynesboro In the morning, Overhill tries to talk me into hiking with him. He’s going 27 miles today, but we’re only planning on doing 20. Bigger miles are always tempting, but I like my little trail family, and we’ll split up soon enough. Old Soul is getting off trail in Catawba, Scoutmaster is meeting his wife there for a few zeroes, and I have my own plans for the week after. pearisburg-to-waynesboro As far as days go, it’s pretty straightforward. We have some nice climbs- we climb 2,000 feet in two miles. Old Soul and Scoutmaster drag a little: we have significantly increased our mileage lately and it’s starting to show on them. I take the lead on the last section, hugging an ancient oak tree before our last climb of the day, where I quickly lose the others. I wait at the top for a minute, but the temperature is dropping fast and I’m quickly chilled. I run to the shelter, throw down my sleeping bag (which dampens immediately in the mist) and crawl inside to shiver. pearisburg-to-waynesboro I wake up to snow. Ugh. Just a little was forecast, but when Old Soul goes to use the privy, she tells us it’s pretty deep. Great. It’s cold, so we’re slow to pack up. I lead the charge, breaking trail. On the top of the ridge, it’s almost a foot deep. I lose the trail as it goes over some rocks, so Old Soul takes over leading. pearisburg-to-waynesboro And here, the trail turns to garbage. We’re high on a ridge, made up of steep rock slabs. With almost a foot of snow on them, the slabs are almost impassable. We take turns slipping, slamming hard into the rock and sliding into the bushes below. Poor Old Soul is leading and takes the brunt of the falls. It’s slow going. We’re doing less than a mile an hour and it’s some of the most dangerous snow hiking I’ve done. Not in a fall to your death kind of way, but the potential for a twisted ankle or broken bone is high. And in this temperature, hypothermia wouldn’t be far behind. pearisburg-to-waynesboro Finally, we are off of the slabs and just on to normal, run of the mill, AT rocks. We pick our way down to Niday shelter, where someone has left us trail magic. There’s a road another mile down the trail. The idea of freezing in the shelter, with all of our wet stuff, is not appealing, so we head to the road. There’s not a lot of traffic. pearisburg-to-waynesboro The first car to see us stops. It’s one of the weirdest hitching interactions I’ve ever had. The guy tells us how far we are from anywhere, that he’s just going to walk his dog and that he can’t help us. His words don’t faze me- I’ve hitched from far more remote spots with far fewer cars (thanks for the confidence boost CDT!) But he takes about ten minutes to tell us all of this, and I’m terrified another car will come along and not stop because of him. Finally, he leaves. Two minutes later, another car comes along, stops, and we all pile in. Only 30 minutes later, we’re at a hotel, heat cranked as high as it will go, wet sleeping bags and socks draped over every surface. pearisburg-to-waynesboro Scoutmaster’ s wife and mother in law show up over night. They shuttle us back to where we got off trail. It’s only 8 miles to the next road crossing, where they will pick us up. Uphill is fine- we follow Overhill’s footprints. Downhill is harder though. I break trail and some of the drifts come to mid thigh on me. They are starting to set like concrete and they rob me of my momentum. Then, we are back at the car. We eat dinner at the Home Place, a restaurant just a few miles from the trail. pearisburg-to-waynesboro The next day, we southbound the Dragon’s Tooth. It’s the first place on the trail with rebar to climb, and is scrambly. Northbounders are supposed to climb down the sketchy stuff, but considering it’s still snowy and we have Scoutmaster’s wife to shuttle us around, it seems safer to climb it instead. pearisburg-to-waynesboro The climb itself is fun, though the rebar is a little disappointing. We detour to check out the tooth itself, then it’s back down. Down is not fantastic. The drifts are deep and I am tired. It’s still fastest for me to break trail though, as Scoutmaster and Old Soul lag behind, and I’m already thinking about beating the next storm to Daleville. pearisburg-to-waynesboro We meet Mrs Scoutmaster at the bottom, where she has Chick Fil’a waiting for us. Then, they drive me back to where we started this morning. Scoutmaster is going home for a few days and Old Soul is leaving for a few weeks. I say goodbye, and then I’m alone. Suddenly, despite the hordes of day hikers coming back from McAfee knob, I am deeply lonely. pearisburg-to-waynesboro I reach McAfee knob. So many places are overhyped, but this is one of the best views of the trail so far. Three guys are hiding in the bushes, to take photos of a proposal happening in a few minutes. I persuade one of them to take my photos, and then I’m slogging my way to the shelter. pearisburg-to-waynesboro There’s already five people in the shelter. One of them, Roub, ushers me inside, even as he tells me two more people are on their way. “There’s always room for one more in this weather!” Almost everyone there either thru hiked in 2015, or is a long section hiker. Cruise and Roll Around show up to join me, Roub, Dirt Time, Cider, Splash and Sticks. It’s only a 6 person shelter, so we get very cozy, very quickly. Everyone else had been planning to hike to Daleville, but is bailing with the storm approaching. They offer suggestions on restaurants in town, and then I ask where to stay. “We’re at the Wildwood Inn,” Roub says. “You could stay with us, but you’d have to sleep on the floor.” Everyone giggles a little and I know I’m missing something. Then Roub calls his wife to let her know to expect a houseful of hiker trash and the joke is clear. Roub gives me his number with instructions to let him know when I’m close. pearisburg-to-waynesboro I pack up fast in the morning. I throw my steripen in a pocket- I need to get water before I leave and I don’t want to be repacking in the crowded shelter. Roub comes over and gives me a litre, so I roll out. A few miles down trail, I stop for breakfast and go to stow my steripen. All that’s in my pocket is the cap. The rest is gone. It feels like someone has punched me in the stomach. I’ve put 6000 miles on that steripen. Thruhiking teaches you that possessions aren’t important, but when you have so little, you tend to get attached. pearisburg-to-waynesboro I make my way along icy tinker cliffs and drop down. I fall once, and manage to roll both my ankles. It’s one of those days, I guess. Still, I make good time. Roub picks me up, drives me to his house where everyone else is hanging out. He keeps accidentally calling me Fun Times, which mortifies his wife. I find it amusing. After a shower, we all drive to The Home Place, for my second visit. pearisburg-to-waynesboro Roub drives me back to the trail early in the morning. I have miles to make- I need to be in a town on Friday, but I’m already hoping to miss Thursday night’s thunderstorm. The snowstorm has hit mostly to the south- we only have an inch or two here, so I make good time. I stop at a shelter after 25 miles. pearisburg-to-waynesboro I’m up early. I’ve got a big climb up over Apple Orchard mountain and the shelters are weirdly spaced. I can do 18… or 30. Well. Let’s see how this goes. I climb up and up, the snow getting deeper as I climb. There are footprints to follow though, which at least removes the mental fatigue of trying to find trail. Then, suddenly, the climb is over. I drop down, fast as I can through the snow. Then I’m at the shelter, just 20 minutes before dark. Twisted, a yoyo-er is there, with his tiny Chihuahua, Baby. I eat my dinner in an exhausted stupor. 30s are so hard on the AT. pearisburg-to-waynesboro pearisburg-to-waynesboro I’m up early and leave the shelter fast, but I’m dragging from the efforts of the day before. I cross the James river, and then I’m climbing again. The elevation change this section is staggering- massive climbs every 20 miles or so, which, of course means every day. It rains a little as I climb, so I throw up my umbrella. pearisburg-to-waynesboro I go to stow my umbrella half an hour later, but it won’t close. It’s starting to break, so I just tug on it a little. It folds up and I see the layer of ice on it. Uh oh. Soon the rocks are coated too. For every step I take, I slide back a few inches. I climb a few hundred more feet and give up and put on my microspikes. pearisburg-to-waynesboro The wind is howling. My hands are cold and numb, and soon they stop functioning all together. I have to paw at my snacks, unable to press my fingers together with any strength. My head feels foggy and I just want to stop and sit down. I start to realize: this is the beginning of hypothermia. pearisburg-to-waynesboro There’s nowhere to warm up and no more layers to put on though, so I just keep going, fighting the urge to take a break. I crest the top of bluff mountain, and then I’m dropping down. I’m out of the wind and it warms as I lose elevation. Soon, my head clears and feeling returns to my hands. pearisburg-to-waynesboro I reach a shelter with a few section hikers. I had planned on pushing on to the next one, but it’s even higher than Bluff Mountain and I’m not eager to get that cold again. One of the hikers gives me some homemade dehydrated meals. He warns me that they are big portions. I dump a bunch of olive oil in them and eat two without pausing for breath. He watches me with big eyes. “Well, big portions for a section hiker, I guess,” he chuckles. pearisburg-to-waynesboro I have another day of massive elevation change, so I leave the shelter before it’s even light out. I turn my headlamp off just as I begin the climb proper. Up and up I go. Dark clouds build on the horizon. I get a little service as I crest the ridge. I check the weather- no thunderstorms, but my heart still pounds. pearisburg-to-waynesboro It’s up and down, up and down all day, until I make the summit of the Priest. I stop in at the shelter there- it’s traditional to confess your sins in the logbook there. Then, it’s a long way down to the river below. The next shelter is another climb and I’m running on empty, so I throw up my tarp and camp for once. It rains a little during the night, but I stay dry in my little rhododendron grove. pearisburg-to-waynesboro The next day starts with, surprise surprise, another climb, up Three Ridges. The weather is changing. Today is hot and humid and I sweat as I climb, chugging water. I don’t remember how to hike in the heat at all. After the peak, it’s a gentle downhill and then a long, rolling, mostly flat ridge to humpback rocks, where the trail drops down. I stop at a shelter just five miles from town. pearisburg-to-waynesboro It’s an easy walk to the road in the morning. The trail comes out just by the interstate and hitching looks terrifying. Luckily there is a list of trail angels who will give you a ride posted at the trailhead. The 4th one I call answers, and twenty minutes later, I’m speeding towards town in his big yellow truck. pearisburg-to-waynesboro pearisburg-to-waynesboro pearisburg-to-waynesboro

Blogs by Category

Eloise Robbins (Fun Size)

About the Author

Eloise Robbins (Fun Size) is a writer, triple crown thru hiker, and adventurer. She is a lover of the outdoors, hiking, canoeing, and most of all mountains.

Thank you for your comment! It has been received and should show up here once it's approved.


None yet

Copyright © 2016-2021 Eloise Robbins; All rights reserved