Miles today: 24.0
Miles total: 1407.8
Miles total: 1407.8
Currently sitting at the picnic table...
Today started laaaaate. I didn't get out of bed until 8, and breakfast wasn't until 9. I sat at the table and talked to the other guests: a couple from Pittsburgh and a couple from Russia. I explained to them how much I eat, but they didn't know I was hiking yet. They just thought I was a growing boy. I must still look 16. After some delicious granola, yogurt, and blueberry-banana pancakes, I got my stuff together in my room. Meantime, Pink Leprechaun gave me a call. He was planning to get off the trail for a while in Buena Vista to go home to Greensboro, NC for a while. He'll make some money and hit the trail again, skipping ahead once he gets to the point he reached during his winter hiking. I selfishly hoped he would choose my whereabouts as his jumping-to location. Sad to see him go for now. Once I was dropped off at the trailhead, it was 11:15, one of my latest starts in recent memory. My goal was to hit 20 miles, which was doable. I kept descending from the road, and the grade was agreeable. I found myself cruising, especially as the trail bottomed out and followed a stream for a long while. I found myself thinking of making it the extra four miles at the end of the day to the next shelter. It would set up my next few days a lot better. If the walking would be anywhere near this quick, I could do it. I decided that I would do it either way, hiking at night if necessary.
With my new goal in mind, I ascended Rice Mountain, then Punchbowl Mountain, then Bluff Mountain. It was all manageable, and I like a good climb. Sweating so much was a foreign sensation as of late. I even liked feeling thirsty, enjoying the taste of water gurgling from the bottle. I quick-stepped off the ridge, passing Johns Hollow Shelter at only 5:40 or so. I could comfortably make the next 4 miles, but I wanted to call my dad and update him on my plans for tomorrow. I got no service at the road I crossed, and the rest of my day was similarly low-elevation, leaving little chance for cell reception. I decided I would hitch in to Glasgow to make the call, and even better, the town had a hiker pavilion with hot showers and a roof under which to sleep. Only problem was that none of the Labor Day traffic on US 501 felt like picking up a hiker. The traffic did feel like buzzing close to me and honking, or doing that cheeky thumbs-up thing again. Oh well, must have been a sign. I crossed the longest footbridge on the AT to the other side of the James River and walked a couple flat miles to Matts Creek Shelter. There I met a couple section hikers, Brand New and FGH (Fat Girl Hiking). I got a good laugh out of that name. It's a late one, though, and light is waning. They've already climbed into their hammocks, meaning it must be time for me to retire as well.
Picture: longest footbridge on the AT.