Bird Man's AT Journal
Trail Updates and Photos from the 2002 AT "Flip-Flap" Hike
© Bruce Nichols - 2002
|Dear Family and Friends,
Two nights ago I slept in a grassy glade about 50 feet back from a west facing cliff near the summit of Hogback Mt. about 12 miles south of Waynesboro, VA. The day had been very hot and I'd climbed some long steep trails going over "Three Ridges" earlier in the day, then sat out the last half of a thunder shower in
During the night a cooling wind blew up from the valley and my tarp fluttered quielty and I slept a deep peaceful sleep. I rose before dawn and walked back to the cliff to watch the just past full moon settle down on the ridge to the west. My reason for rising particularly early was a burning desire to be in Waynesboro in time for the Pizza Hut "all you can eat" luncheon buffet. It is just impossible to carry enough calories in you pack to fuel the type of walking a long AT journey requires. Well, maybe not impossible; but certainly impracticle and darn right crazy in the type of heat I've encountered in western Virginia. So those occasional forays into towns are, for hikers, like the wild feeding frenzies of famished sharks.
Word travels up and down the trail about where to find the most for the least. Chineese buffets, AYCE (all
After arriving at the Pizza Hut in Pearisburg 15 minutes after the 1:30 deadline and being told that I could not partake of the AYCE buffet, I was bound and determined to be in Waynesboro before the deadline. So the 23 mile day on Tuesday (really one of a string of long trail days since leaving Pearisburg), and the early rising from my airey mountain top campsite. I had 12 miles to walk to Rockfish Gap and set out at first light. To my advantage, the trail was mostly good, mostly downhill, and I was HIGHLY MOTIVATED [image]. I was also almost totally out of food and carring just enough water for the final miles so my pack was as light as it will probably ever be on this trip. (Pack weight is another entire email). I made it to the gap just a little after 10 AM - better by almost an hour than I expected. I got lucky with the hitch into town - another pick-up, of course. And had a great conversation with a fellow about my age. He had dreams of walking the trail and I shared some of my
He took me right to the local YMCA which offers hikers a place to pitch a tent (or tarp) on some open space
Oh the gustatory joy of chowing down on pizza and green salad after almost a week of Lipton noodles,
I'll be back on the trail this afternoon. I've decided to push on to Harpers Ferry, West VA, only another 160 miles down the trail. Most of that distance is in Shenandoah National Park which, I think is the most visited park in the nation being within a days drive of, probably 50 million people. The trail winds back and forth across Skyline Drive, the road that traverses the length of the park and also passes many campgrounds, tourists centers, SNACK BARS and RESTAURANTS so it should be an interesting few days walk. I understand that there is one section where it is possible to eat breakfast in one snackbar, walk 10 or 12 miles an have lunch in another and then walk another 10 or twelve mile and enjoy a sit down dinner in a restaurant along the drive. Hiker hunger heaven. And if your feeling a little grubby from your days ramble, just stop by one of the several campgrounds and drop a few quarters in the pay shower and wash away the grime of the trail. Well, I'm about to go and find out it this is fact or fiction. I'll save the story about my "trail magic" lunch for
A quick not about an interesting couple met a few days ago. "Flash" and "Hot Flash" stopped by Brown Mt. Creek Shelter about an hour after I had arrived. It had been another hot 20 mile day and I'd just been down in the nearby creek for a soak in the cold water and another quick rinse of those trail worn shorts. F and HF, around 60, were locals who were day hiking but they had thru hiked in 87 and also been cartakers of a hiker facility run by the Patomic Appalachia Trail Club in past seasons. They had also walked quite a bit with Earl Shaffer, the first thru hiker in 1948, when he did his 50th anniversary hike at the age of 78 in 1998. They were playing "trail angels" for the day and produced from a cold sack an ice cold soda that they offered to me. Now, before the trail I had not been drinking soda for a few years but my hot, dehydrated body has lately been unable to resist anything that is both wet and cold, and soda is once again on the "cannot refuse" list. I sipped on the icy sweet liquid and enjoyed the feel of the cold dripping can in my hand as we talked about trail
It turned out that Buckshot was from New Haven, CT and, small world, was also a graduate of Hopkins the
That's the latest, but by no means the complete story, from the trail so far. I doubt that I will see another computer before I return to CT, but still have a pocket full of experiences to share - and maybe some photos when I get home. I may do so via a website rather that through email but will keep you all informed.
Thanks to all who have written. I do enjoy getting your mail even if I am not responding to it all.
Peace, Blessings, and Love to all,
page created - 11/09/2002
updated - 11/22/2002
All text and photos © Bruce Nichols