One Minute, a Friendly Hitch, and Fire

April 27, 2018

Destination: Stealth Campsite at mile 801.5 Today's Miles: 15.50

Start Location: Glasgow Shelter (US 501 at mile 786) Trip Miles: 801.50


Campfire at mile 801.5
The sound of rain entered my consciousness as I slowly woke. More rain???

It had rained all night and was still lightly falling. I was happy to be in the shelter, nice and dry. I was also happy we didn’t have any issues with rats or raccoons, or murderers! I got up and got my food bag out of a tree. Tarzan and Bama Dog stirred awake. I worked on packing up my things, then decided to walk to the gas station to see if they had any food. The rain had now transformed to a light mist.


I walked across the meadow between the shelter and the road, dusting the tips of my shoes with bright green freshly mowed grass tips. The gas station attendant was standing outside watching the two street T intersection in front of the station, smoking a cigarette. Glasgow is a tiny town. Calling it a town is really a bit of a misnomer in the sense that it might conjure images of a row of shops, or a neighborhood of houses strung together. That’s not Glasgow. Behind the gas station, however, there was a baseball diamond. The gas station had the usual snacks and drinks, but they also had Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwiches and a microwave, so I grabbed a sandwich. I also got a Krispy Kreme jumbo iced honey bun. I’m pretty sure that is the sugar equivalent of putting hot sauce on your hot sauce. I went to the register and asked the lady if she had an hot coffee. She said “it’s right there in front of your face son,” pointing to where I had just been standing by the breakfast sandwiches. So it was! I guess my night’s rest at the Jack the Ripper motel hadn’t been as good as I thought. I poured a coffee and added some packet creamer, then paid for my things. “One minute” the lady said, holding up a single finger. I realized she meant the time to microwave the sandwich. I felt a little like a cadet at boot camp who was not impressing the drill sergeant. Bama Dog walked in as I moved to the microwave. I pointed out the sandwiches and heated mine for one minute. She was right! I stood there and wolfed it down, wishing I had gotten another but unwilling to go back to the counter. Bama Dog had gotten a different kind of sandwich and his were in a plastic wrapper. He fiddled with them and said he wasn’t sure whether to microwave them in the wrapper or not. I looked around for a paper towel, but there were none. Seeing the confusion, the attendant decided to go outside and have a cigarette, but on the way out she said “one minute” as she walked by. I decided to leave and let Bama Dog work it out. 


Back at the shelter, Wallace, Sprinkles (formerly Nightmare), Diablo and Finger Food had arrived. Wallace was going to zero at the shelter. He’d stayed at Stanimal’s hostel there, but apparently the person running it for Stanimal (he runs the Waynesboro location) was putting off bad vibes, so he decided to switch to the free option. The others had just arrived. We joked around and lamented a bit as the rain started falling again. Finger Food stared solemnly at the rain, seemingly searching deep within for a reason to go on. We were all expecting a clear day and I think all surprised that it was raining with no real end in sight. I decided to run across to the grocery express and grab another iced honey bun and a Monster energy drink. If I was going to hitch out of Glasgow in the rain, I might as well be jacked on sugar and caffeine while doing it. 


When I got back and finished my snack, Tarzan was no where to be found, and Remmy was still in his tent. Bama Dog had to resupply and the rest were staying, so I decided to head out alone. It was now just barely misting again. I walked up the road past the gas station and kept going. Yesterday Tony had advised me to hitch “at the intersection,” and when I asked which intersection he said “you’ll know what I mean.” Now understanding that he meant the only intersection of any consequence, I walked that way. As I walked I turned back and saw a small car coming. Not a likely hitch - usually trucks and SUVs pick us up because they have room for us and gear. But wait! This car seemed to be responding to my thumb! The driver pulled over in a car that was slightly smaller than my wife’s Prius. He was a young guy named Stefan and offered me a ride to the trail head. He moved around some computer equipment in the backseat and off we went. He said he had been a diving instructor living in Fiji with his girlfriend, but wasn’t making any money so he came back to help his father with an internet service provider business he had established locally. We talked a bit about traveling. He was super nice and I think his adventurous lifestyle had afforded him an appreciation for things like a thru hike. As I got out of the car, I wished him well in his ventures. 


Back at the James River Foot Bridge, I hit the trail just as the sky was starting to clear. This was a good sign! I filtered water at the first stream I came to and then started climbing. Leaving a town inevitably means going up. I climbed Little Rocky Row and then to Big Rocky Row. The views over the James River Valley were stunning. I passed Happy Feet taking a break. Apparently, she had gone into and out of Glasgow like a ninja this morning just to resupply. I walked on and climbed up Bluff Mountain. Right near the top was a marker that indicated “the exact spot” where little Ottie Cline Powell, a 4 year old, had been found dead after wandering off in 1891. The way the marker phrased it gave me the creeps, but I still decided to hang out on the top of the mountain to have a Snickers. The views were good and, hey, everybody knows that Snickers have natural boogeyman repelling properties. Happy Feet arrived and broke out a snack as well. She agreed the sign was creepy. I told her I was going to press on, but to enjoy her salsa tortillas with Ottie Cline. She looked a little freaked out as I left. 


I hiked past Punchbowl Shelter, presumably so named because of the pond nearby. I crossed the Pedlar Bridge across a river and it was getting into the evening hours, so I decided to look for a place to camp. As luck would have it (or as the trail would provide), I found a nice little two-seater camp spot complete with a fire ring and a little pile of wood. Perfect! I set up camp and then spent about 30 minutes just looking for a proper branch to hang my food bag. I couldn’t find anything!!! It was like the trees had no arms. I finally settled on one that was really too low, but would probably do unless Kareem Abdul the Bear came to camp. I could jump and touch the bag, and I’m a whopping 5’ 8” with shoes on.... I settled down to make dinner and made a small fire at the same time. This was my first fire on the trail! I’d say by others, but this was the first I’d made myself. It was really quite lovely. I half hoped Happy Feet or someone else might walk by late looking for a spot to drop so that I could offer the guest room next to my glorious fire (the fire pit was between my spot and the other vacant tenting spot). No one came, but I was also quite content to just be by myself in the woods. The moon was bright - nearly full. I didn’t need my headlamp. I was grateful that the weather had improved and for all of the beautiful views that nature had offered me today. I was grateful for the warmth of the fire and the calming solace of the wilderness. I would rest well.


Postscripts:


#1 - Kate-  In terms of running, yes I was running regularly before starting my hike, but I was actually tapering that off. I was a regular runner for years. I had run two marathons and have a pretty good pace - I run about an 8 minute mile for a marathon. That said, when I started to decide I might just do the trail, I didn’t want to hurt myself so I tapered back the running a bit just in case. I don’t remember exactly the regular distances I was running, but I would run 5-6 days a week and I was probably running 5-6 miles and maybe a 9 miler in the weekends. I cut that back to 4 mile runs and started using the stair climber at my local gym to train for the trail. I would put my weighted pack on. I think this was much better training than running for the physical strain. Running, however, was great cardio training. I don’t really huff and puff much going up hills as a result. Honestly, in hindsight, the best training would have been to simply strap my pack on and get out and hike, but driving out of Atlanta is a serious mental (traffic) and time commitment, so the gym worked well for me, as did running outside. No training will fully prep for the difficulty of real thru hiking, but I have never felt like I am out of my league physically when it has come to the challenges of the trail. For me, the real physical challenge is just making sure I listen to my body. Something always hurts - I just have to make sure I take the time to rest. That is incredibly hard for me! I always want to keep pushing on. 


#2 - forgot to mention Glasgow actually had a giant fiberglass (or something) dinosaur by the side of the road. Weird! I have no idea why. I took a picture, but it was getting dark....


#3 - yes. A pacifier. For realsies. It’s been the talk of the trail!

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