June 11 - Saturation point reached
It rained most of the night. Temp fell steadily. Only 16C in the hammock. Very chilly outside with a moderate wind with gusts.
Another limb came down. It was smaller than the last one but that's now the third one that has come down near me. There was one as I walked out of Damascus that cracked right over my head. The sound made me run forward ducking my head. It crashed to the ground right on the trail about 10 meters behind me!
I had packed all my damp gear in 45 minutes and was heading down a soggy trail. A surprising number of tents were set up at campsites just past me.
Within the first hour on the trail I was thinking I may have had my fill of hiking this summer. I thought about leaving the trail at Daleville, my next town stay.
One minute of sunshine, in 24 hours.
The feet were still an issue but the main problem was my shoulder, or rather, the trapezius muscle. I had two days off in Pearisburg, one day of hiking and then another day off during the storm, and it still bothered me so much, that I used my hiking poles beneath the pack to hold it up a bit for short periods. If I could have carried my pack with just the right shoulder, I would have.
I slogged through a lot of Alder tunnels filled with mud. I kept readjusting my pack straps trying to put most of the load on the right shoulder. I couldn't use the left hiking pole at all and if anything, the trapezius pain seemed to be getting worse.
I decided to see if there was a bail-out option before Daleville. I scanned The Guide thinking I'd have a road crossing with a town nearby in a day or two, but then I saw this: Camping at "The Captain's" 30 yards east. I decided to keep my eye out for this place as The Captain might be able to, or know someone who could, shuttle me to town.
As I walked, I thought, I love the soles on my Oboz shoes because I can't feel rocks and roots through them. I hate the soles on my Oboz because they're so slippery they're dangerous! I've slipped and fallen twice with them and have slipped and caught myself more than a dozen times. I'm really leery now of rock scrambles. It takes time to navigate these hazards.
With all the rain, the streams were swollen. Usually there are rocks in the stream you can walk on but this day, all the rocks were under water by several inches. There were numerous crossings to be made and my shoes were soaked from the get-go. At least with hiking poles, I was offered some stability.
The Captain's was eight miles into the day's hike. Before I got there, I saw a blue blaze trail going off to the right with a sign stapled to a tree stating that the zip line was closed because of the swollen river and slack packers were to take the side trail to the road, turn left and walk a half mile to The Captain's. Look for mailbox 4464.
I continued on, wondering about the zip line, when I ran into a stream that fed that swollen river. It was very fast water, wider than most streams and the rocks were covered by about a foot of water as gauged with my hiking stick. I felt it could knock me over and I didn't want to chance it if I didn't have to.
And I didn't have to, thanks to that sign a quarter mile back. I returned to the fork, took the blue blaze trail and about 20 minutes later, turned into the driveway of 4464 Big Stony Creek Road.
There was no one home and I had no cell service. It was a cool place though. There were two friendly dogs and the back door, to a huge closed in porch with a fridge filled with soft drinks, was unlocked. A sign said to make yourself at home even if no human was around and to sleep on the porch if it was raining. Nice. The zip line connected the property to the A.T. on the other side of the river. A novel way to get to your campsite for sure.
I headed back down the road retracing my steps, surprisingly disappointed no one was around to help me out. A truck came down the road and I waved to the driver and then kicked myself for not waving him down and asking where we were in relationship to Daleville.
A moment later the truck returned! He said I looked like I needed directions. He had turned around and come back! It's funny how things show up just when you need them. Kismet.
His name was Jason and he was a farrier. His client that afternoon had cancelled and it was my good fortune he was there on that road at all. He said the A.T. crosses the river a half mile further up the road on a pedestrian bridge and I didn't have to backtrack. And he offered me a ride up to it.
I asked him directly - how much could I offer him to take me to Daleville? He didn't answer right away and then we arrived at the foot bridge across the river. I could see the telltale white blaze off to the right which was north. And then I saw a hiker hurriedly coming down into the gap. He had seen the truck pull up and wanted something.
He came up to us looking desperate and started talking about bad boots and needing to find an outfitter. I looked at his boots and the right one had the sole completely separated from the rest of the shoe. It was held in place with a lashing. This guy was in a bad way. The nearest outfitter was in Daleville. So suddenly we were on our way.
Talk about timing and coincidence. Had Jason's client not cancelled he wouldn't have been on that road. Had I crossed the swollen creek I'd have been there earlier and missed Jason. Had Jason not given me a ride up to the trail the guy with one good boot would not be going to the outfitter.
It was an hour and a half to Daleville. Jason dropped me at the front door of the HoJo motel which is closest to the A.T. He wouldn't take a dime for going out of his way! Said he was paying back kindness shown to him. Wow.
I decided to sleep on my decision to leave the trail.