Note: This is the second night in a row with zero service. Other hikers said they got cell service today during the ridgewalk – I got stuck in the rain and didn’t check.
Shortly after I finished writing last night, a hiker walked through camp and said it was going to start raining at 11:00pm – he just got an updated weather report.
I closed the vents on my rainfly and fell asleep. I woke up to the sound of heavy rain hitting my tent – I could hear thunder in the distance. I nodded off, but woke again at 1:00am, the downpour still soaking the earth. I didn’t have any leaks – everything was dry.
I woke up again at 6:00, this time for good. I sat up and immediately started packing. I felt good and was pretty motivated to start hiking bigger mile days. I put my hand down on the floor of my tent and was a little surprised. There was a layer of water, maybe a half an inch, between my tent and the footprint.
I stuck my head outside my tent. What I thought was nice flat land the night before now showed itself to be bowl-shaped. Everywhere around my tent had standing water from the overnight rains. I finished packing and got everything out of my tent.
The only water that ever gets in (and this has happened a few times), is directly under my sleeping pad. I had the same problem this morning – it’s really very minor compared to stories you hear. I wiped it up before taking down my tent.
I did nail that bear hang.
I grabbed a quick breakfast and started hiking at 7:00 with Moon Boots. Despite the heavy rains, the trail was surprisingly in good shape. After the quick up and over Lynn Camp Mountain, things got tough.
We started the ascent of Chestnut Knob at 9:00am. While the trail was well-graded, we faced a continuous uphill hike for four miles. I was hiking at steady pace, not wanting to waste too much energy on the uphills. I stopped for water and a quick snack about halfway up.
As the switchbacks near the crest of Chestnut Ridge, the trail goes from forest to bald – I was about halfway done. As the trail followed the ridge higher in elevation to the summit, I kept a lookout for Chestnut Knob Shelter at the summit.
At 11:00am, Moon Boots and I found Push making lunch at the shelter. The shelter was very nice and had a great view of the farmland in the valley below.
Before I sat down to cook, I took out my soaking wet tent and hung it from my trekking poles to dry. I cooked quickly and ate. It looked like it was threatening to rain again. I could feel the humidity rising from the valley below. The air was cool, but not cold.
As I was leaving, Canuck and Savage showed up. They sat down to eat and I took off, heading for the eight miles of ridgewalking ahead. I felt like I was making good time. The trail consistently stayed away from the ridge line, instead following it about 20 yards to the side.
About an hour in, it started raining. It never got too heavy – I continued hiking in a t-shirt and gym shorts. I caught up with Moon Boots and the two of us realized we were approaching a road crossing.
At the trailhead we met E.T., a now-retired former thru-hiker. He gave me an apple. While I was throwing away trash, Canuck showed up – we ended up splitting his last Gatorade.
The three of us left just as the rain was finally letting up. I was wet, but not in that bad of shape. The trail deviates from the ridge and descends quickly towards Jenkins Shelter. I stopped with Canuck at the shelter for a quick snack before pressing on towards Laurel Creek.
The trail again climbs and runs alongside another ridge – although this time at a much lower elevation. It was a nice hike into camp. I emerged from the woods to find Monster, Moon Boots and Push all gathering water and/or bathing in Laurel Creek.
I filled up for the night and made my way to the campsites. In time the six of us that decided to try for bigger miles sat at the picnic table to make dinner. Juan, who missed the sign for Jenkins Shelter (he meant to continue hiking with Sweet Potato and Oriole), joined us.
My plan is to hike 25 miles tomorrow, stopping at Trent’s Grocery, and off-trail country store that apparently sells burgers. That would leave 26 miles on Friday to reach Pearisburg. There’s admittedly no rush – I just want to push myself before taking a day off.
I hiked all day in my short gym shorts and t-shirt, even in the light rain. I felt great.
Breakfast: Blueberry Crisp Clif Bar, Little Debbie Banana Marshmallow Pie
Snack: almonds, figs, LD Ban M Pie
Lunch: Cheddar Bacon Pasta Side with chicken, spiked with instant mashed potatoes, Star Wars fruit snacks, beef jerky
Snack: Apple, LD Ban M Pie, nearly an entire bag of dried cranberries
Dinner: Fettucini Alfredo Pasta Side with tuna, spiked with instant mashed potatoes, LD Ban M Pie, almonds, beef jerky, the rest of the cranberries, almost all of the figs