May 12. Cold! Woke up cold but my preventative measures helped keep me decently warm last night. We packed our bags and started the 15 mile downhill to the James River and the road into Glasgow. We crossed the longest footbridge on the AT and after a few minutes of trying to hitch a ride a trail angel picked us up and took us into town. The 6 mile ride into Glasgow was great for me. It was sunny and warm and the wind in the bed of the pickup was refreshing. We were dropped off downtown near the Dollar General, the grocery store, the restaurant, and the gas station. That is just about the whole town! We got there around 2 in the afternoon and started out with a big soda from the gas station and sat relaxing at a picnic table in the park. For me this felt like a lazy summer afternoon back home in Berne, although I think Berne may be bigger than Glasgow! There was a drag race taking place just outside of town so all kinds of cars and motorcycles and trailers were going by. We went grocery shopping at the Dollar General and headed over to the restaurant. We were the only people there and someone from the family that owns the place was sitting in the back corner watching some cops murder mystery show on TV. It was pretty depressing, but my BLT sandwich and hot dog hit the spot! On the way out of town I stopped and had my picture taken with the 20 foot tall dinosaur with a cave woman riding it…weird, but the picture looks great! We got a ride with a guy heading up the river to kayak and walked a few miles to the shelter…a good 16 plus mile day with 4 hours in town. We were a few thousand feet lower as well and it felt like the temps were going to be a lot warmer during the night!
May 13. A great day for hiking. The weather was nice and we crossed a few big mountains with great views. I took a break on the top of one mountain and sat out in the sun for about half an hour, working on my tan! At the Punchbowl shelter we saw several snakes laying out on a log in the middle of the pond, sunning themselves as well. We hiked on to Brown Mountain Creek shelter and stayed the night. I set up my tent by the creek and during the night the rain rolled in and it poured.
May 14. I stayed dry, but my tent was very wet. We started out at 8 AM with a 4 mile, 3,000 foot climb. Who needs coffee when you have that for breakfast! On the way up the hill we crossed mile 800! The rain was still coming down so I just kept pushing on. I stopped for a quick break at another shelter but the chill set in so I started walking again to get myself warmer. I stopped at one point and took my shoes and socks off and wrung out the socks like a dish cloth. My feet were taking a beating from being wet all day. I made it to the Priest shelter a little before 6 PM, a 22.5 mile day in the rain. Meat had been walking with another hiker today and I figured they must have stopped back at the last shelter to get out of the rain and I’d be on my own tonight. I got my tent set up just before the rain picked up and dove in for warmth and cover. I had wanted to continue walking until I found some sunshine to dry my gear, but that didn’t happen today. The only thing I could hope for is that we get the rain out of the way at night and we get sunshine tomorrow! I took cover in the tent at 6:30 and around 8:30 I got out quickly to go to the bathroom before going to bed. I couldn’t believe the puddles forming around me! I had set up on some grass, luckily, but in the areas where my tent stakes were placed the puddles had formed and covered about half of the stakes! I got in my tent and tried to fall asleep, a little worried about how the night would go, if my tent would flood, or if I’d have to get up and start walking. I fell asleep listening to the rain pounding down on top of the tent…
May 15. I woke up to the sound of a woodpecker, a good sign, birds were out! I didn’t sleep well, but I did sleep dry. I had used my trash bag under my torso sleeping pad to keep my upper body dry. I used a small piece of Tyvek on top of my soaked backpack to keep the moisture away from the bottom portion of my sleeping bag. I woke up with a little water on my sleeping pad, but that was it! The entire inner side of the tent though was soaked from 2 rainy nights and I wouldn’t be able to use it again unless I could dry it today. I broke camp quickly and got on the trail around 6:45 AM. No one else was ahead of me so I walked most of the day without seeing anyone. I crossed The Priest mountain top first and on the way down I saw a break in the clouds and some sunshine! All I could think about was Jack Johnson’s song ‘Rainbow’ and kept singing that to myself all day. It seemed like the clouds would clear and I’d be able to dry out! From The Priest I hiked down from 4,000 feet to 1,000 feet, and then back up to 4,000 feet! I had to cross a swollen creek in the morning and both of my feet went completely underwater so it was back to soaked feet. I stopped for lunch about 14 miles into the day and decided that if the sun didn’t come out soon to dry my gear I’d just hike on in to Waynesboro. In the afternoon some dark clouds rolled in and started dumping rain, really pouring. As they did the sun actually came out and it was one of those times when it was storming in broad daylight, very confusing! I had already put my dry socks on and withing minutes my shoes were full of water and I was soaked to the bone. I hiked on up and down and over several other mountains and even did a bit of trail running with my 30ish pound backpack. I finally came to the last shelter outside of Waynesboro and I could have stayed there in the shelter but tomorrow I would have to put on all of my wet clothes and hike 5 miles to town…or I could go to town tonight and get a hotel room, a shower, and sleep dry. Decision made…I walked on and made it to Rockfish Gap at 7 PM…35 miles in just a little over 12 hours! I couldn’t hitch a ride and the road sign said town was 2 miles away. I started walking, then running, down the highway to town. I must have looked pretty pathetic because a young guy passed me going into town and had turned around and stopped traffic on the highway to pick me up. I’m glad he did! It would have been a long haul, more than 2 miles, to get to the hotel. I got about a mile down the highway, so all in all a 36 mile day! He dropped me off at the hotel, I checked in and made my way to McDonald’s for a Big Mac meal and an extra Big Mac. I tried to do laundry but at 8:30 they were closed so I settled for 2 Budweiser tall boys and laid on my bed in the hotel room and let my feet rest. They looked pretty tore up from being in wet socks and shoes for 12 hours and covering 36 miles, but they felt ok! I slept well that night for sure!
May 16. Woke up at the hotel, had breakfast, and headed down to do laundry. While I was cleaning my clothes I set out my wet tent, backpack, and gear in the sun to dry. Before noon I was clean and dry and ready to go! I had Subway for lunch and walked to the public library. As I write this I am laying out in the shade under a tree in the front lawn of the library. My shoes are in the sun drying, there is a warm breeze and people milling around…it is pretty nice being here, no complaints! My feet feel amazing considering the beating they went through yesterday, a few more relaxing days and they’ll be ready to put down the miles! Meat sent me a text and said he will be in town sometime tomorrow, so until then I’m relaxing, hanging out at the library and the grocery store, enjoying life!