Appalachian Trail Journals 06-03-03

Journals From A 2003 Thru-Hike of the Appalachian Trail (by Loony)

Entry #64 – June 3, 2003

8:05 PM – Were pretty undecided about what to do when we woke up yesterday. Even though we had done the big mileage the day before, we realized it really wasn’t going to get us into Troutville any sooner, because of the spacing of the shelters. Left Pickle Branch with clear skies – a miracle! The first item on the Trail was a climb up to Dragon’s Tooth. Stopped for a rest near the top and it was there we decided on an easy day (7 miles total) and to stop at Four Pines Hostel for the night. Had an excellent hike then, taking our time and basking in the warmth of dryness of the sun. Sat for probably an hour for our break and then continued on up. To our surprise, it wasn’t even 5 minutes later – and we were at the Tooth (well, after taking a blue blaze off the trail). It was a magnificent rock structure jutting straight up toward the sky 30 or 40 (or more?) feet. Took another break then and played & climbed around a bit. Then came the rough part of the day – climbing down the other side of the mountain – steep rock faces & boulders to scramble & slide down, some even fitted with iron handholds. Definitely not easy with a heavy pack! Eventually we made it down – torture on the knees!

Just before the road where we’d turn off & go to the hostel, we found Trail Magic! A cooler with pop, gatorade, candy bars, etc. We each had an apple pie snack, something I’d been craving & was overexcited to see, and a drink. After that it was on to Four Pines.

What a cool place! A guy, Joe Mitchell, had converted his garage (nice, new, 3-stall) into a place for hikers. Has a bathroom & shower, a fridge with pop & beer, and all kinds of cooking aids! Cots & mattresses for sleeping on, too. We were glad we had decided to stay. Went to the store & picked up hot dogs for grilling, beer, and various other items. Had a great evening with DoubleDare, Iron Chef, Strawbale & more. Jim was a really nice guy, too. Not a hiker, but just likes the company, I guess. Runs it on donations & takes a photo of all of his guests. We’ll have to drop him a line.

Woke to rain today. At first it was just a drizzle – OK for hiking. It was a great morning, felt really energized & happy. Took a break after 8 or 9 miles, but by then the rain had picked up & we were soaked. Had lunch @ Catawba Mtn Shelter & were freezing & closing in on miserable. Was almost thinking we should stop early, just to be able to get a shelter spot…Were planning on the shelter just 10 miles out of Troutville & we worried it would be full. Decided to move on.

We hiked to McAffee Knob, then. It’s supposed to have one of the best views in Virginia, and it’s also got this cool rock ledge outcropping that is kind of a famous Appalachian Trail photo op. Well, the fog allowed us NO view, and it also prevented us from taking any pictures. With all the fog, the camera wouldn’t focus far, and wouldn’t even snap a shot.

Well, we cruised down & on to Tinker Cliffs. Another great viewing area, I presume. The cliffs were still cool, though – huge boulders & sheer dropoffs. Definitely a place we could revisit in fairer weather.

Hiked like madmen the rest of the way to ensure a shelter spot. To our surprise, Lamberts Meadow Shelter was empty – we were first! Glad to be out of the rain. DoubleDare, Iron Chef, Phoenix & his buddy showed up. Hoping to be up early tomorrow to get into town.