July 19th –
Today’s miles: 10.
Cumulative miles? Who knows. ( who cares?)
Once more, I managed to get to a shelter, at the end of the day, with ten minutes to spare before a thunderstorm with pelting rain. Here I am @ Hurricane Shelter, the first hour I was by myself; this one was built in 2004 and the first thing I noticed was the remarkable acoustics like a being inside a guitar soundbox.
Symphony Hall has nothing on this place!
As you might expect I sang songs with sustained notes, just to enjoy the reverb while setting up for the night. “Shenandoah” is apropos of Virginia, so I belted it out. The chorus of Jackson Browne’s “In the Shape of a Heart” was enjoyable, here. I am not a country western fan, but “The Dance” as sung by Garth Brooks, should have been recorded right here, that’s how good it sounded. Finally “The Heart of Life” – now there is a tune with a wonderful message!
Long time no hear from
I have been – out of touch. (Maybe you thought I was dead….) Yes, the reception in the Mt Rogers area was nonexistent. But who cares, really- you probably were relieved not to be getting the daily message.
There’s only so many ways to say
“Today I hiked (6/8/10/12 miles)
in the (rain/heat/wind/humidity)
and I saw a (mountain/stream/bird/insect/dragon/bear)
while I (thought of a lost love/thought of you/thought of nothing)
and my (feet/legs/right knee/skin/lips/) was sore.
At dinner I ate (mountain house/ramen/red beans & rice)”
What can I add to this serial?
Summary: outta Damascus I crossed the Mount Rogers range, tallest in this state. Grayson Highlands lived up to it’s billing, it was nice to also have the adjacent balds so as to build the anticipation….. At Grayson highlands they allow a herd of wild ponies to graze so as to maintain the “bald” condition – a beautidful high mountain meadow as in the Rockies or Sierras.
The wild ponies were cute enough. Watch your step 🙂
My long day the 17th was – tiring. I did 13 miles including about 3,000 feet of vertical. Somewhere along the way, I had a couple slightly longer days mileage-wise but this was the Big One for the summer when you add the vertical. It thundered on and off that day, with showers and I kept the poncho handy. I rested when I was tired. I met a group of eight young guys from a church group at one point, they were getting some sun on the rocks of the first Bald. I leapfrogged with them for the next nine miles. They made camp at Elk Park at 5 P.M., a civilized hour. I saw them but kept moving – with no tent, I needed the darned shelter.
And so, with eleven miles in the bag, I found myself at Deep Gap at 7 P.M., knowing there was two miles remaining along with 500′, and of course, darkness approaching. Ask any other hiker about this and they will tell you it’s time to open a can of “Whup-Ass” and get it in gear.
By this time the sky was clear; but the trail passed through spruce thickets that made it very dark, seeming to be later than the actual clock would tell. I resisted getting out my headlamp since I did not want to stop and take off my pack to rummage through it.
Hiking in the dark
Memories of other hikes during which this or that companion had joined me for a grim forced march; flashbacks to each of the times Gummy Bear and I did this, and what we talked about (listing Great Forced Marches of history was the theme; I recall Gummi Bear describing “Night” by Elie Weisel. I don’t wish to cheapen the holocaust by any means – it’s more about what a great writer Elie is).
Got to the Thomas Knob Shelter at 9 P.M. – after dark – it’s the latest in the day I have hiked, this trip. Tried to be upbeat as I got within ten yards but my butt was dragging.
The scene was set with the a better-than-average cast of characters; four other guys. Two were playing rummy by the lights of their headlamps. I got organized and made dinner for myself. We were all up til 10:30 – I enjoy the chemfree conviviality of a good old fashioned college Bull Session, and this was a great one.
I think I was too tired to turn over in bed, once I got there. Slept quite soundly. Thompson Knob Shelter is situated at the edge of a “bald” – I took a short video in the morning. Spectacular.
Fact is, I was in a post-marathon sort of stupor, didn’t leave the shelter til 11 A.M. – I’d known that the morning-after a Big Day would be tough on this old carcass and it was. The guys from the church group passed me as I was packing my stuff. They stopped to talk, they were a bit surprised to see me ahead of them.
Grayson and the Wild Ponies
Yes, I did see the wild ponies. Lovely. I knew that if I got one for Amy I’d have to also get one for Julie. Also, I would be separating it from it’s mother – something I could not bear to do. So? Maybe next time.
Let them eat cake?
So then last night, to Wise shelter, where I met Mega Mind and Left Field. Also, PeeJay and I shared our last dinner table, along with Cabin Boy. Today? then 10 miles to here, Hurricane Mountain Shelter.
Today’s 784′ vertical? Piece of cake! “Mad Patter” just arrived – happy to have a shelter companion. Bringing Oreos! Chow Down!