Sunday, May 31, 2015

Day 59- The Struggle Is Real

May 30, 2015 
Cornelius Creek Shelter(764.7) to Rocky Row Run Stealth Site(784.8) 20.1 Miles

Wow, am I tired. I woke up early this morning and couldn't get back to sleep. I read a little of my book until there was enough light out to get packed up. I retrieved my food bag and had breakfast and coffee in my hammock. I left camp at 6:55, not a record for me, but still one of my earlier starts. The day started off with a well behaved uphill climb. By well behaved I mean it was nicely graded with lots of switchbacks. I even got a nice view from Black Rock Overlook. 

Black Rock was immediately followed by a not so well behaved mountain. Apple Orchard Mountain was very rocky and had several false summits. I was glad to have an early start because it has been very hot and humid lately. Once I finally made it to the top, I had a mediocre view of the valley and a FAA tower. 
FAA Tower
Mediocre View

On the decent from Apple Orchard I walked underneath, The Guillotine, a rock that is stuck in between two huge boulders. 
The Guillotine 

The next few miles were pretty boring. I walked downhill until I arrived at Thunder Ridge Overlook. The overlook is accessible from the BRP, but you have to park your car and walk on the AT for a little while to see it. 
Panoramic of the View from Thunder Ridge

The next hour of my day was an all out struggle against Highcock Knob. It was a very hard and long struggle. I felt like it would never end. Every time I thought I had crested the top, it went uphill again. The worst part was there was no view at the end. 
View from Highcock Knob

Highcock Knob elevation profile

The next two hours of my trek was all rainbows, unicorns, and puppies. I had a lovely, relatively flat ridge walk, that was very enjoyable. I got glimpses of the mountains from in between the trees. 
Views like this every few hundred yards
James River

The remainder of the day was spent going downhill, which is also a struggle. It really takes it's toll on your knees and feet. By the time I had gone 18 miles the soles of my feet felt like they had been cained. I could have stayed at a shelter, but I was pushing on another two miles to get to the trail magic that people were talking about. As I came out of the forest towards the James River I could see the parking lot where the magic was going to happen. To cross the river you use the James River Foot bridge. The longest foot-use-only bridge on the AT, at over 1,000' long. The bridge is named after William Foot, a former thru-hiker, and former president of Natural Bridge Appalachian Trail Club. It was pretty neat. 
The Foot Bridge

As I neared the magical parking lot I grew concerned. I didn't see any signs of trail magic. I was very disappointed. I did so many miles today because I was positive it would be there. I settled on soaking my feet in the river instead. Later I would find out that public drinking in VA is against the law. The trail magic had been broken up and all the hikers drinking were fined $50 by the US Forest Service. One hiker was even arrested for public intoxication(he was being belligerent to the cops). Once I heard this I wasn't too upset that I missed out. Putt Putt and Tumble caught up to me after the bridge. We stealth camped shortly after the James River together. 

Tomorrow promises to be another high mileage and hot day. I'm trying to set myself up as close to town as possible so I can resupply on Monday. 

"In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt" - Margaret Atwood


  1. Lots to love in your blog today: the fog in the valleys, the views between the trees, the bridge, and the quote! Sorry the trail magic didn't work but feet soaking sounds good. Glad you have people to camp with. Wonder what the 800 mile marker will look like?

  2. Oh, and congrats on a 20+ mile day. Way to go!

  3. Way to push through and get 20 miles behind you!! Sorry, trail magic didn't work out. We will not bring beer next week for our trail magic. Highcock Knob had quite the elevation. I would have enjoyed the bridge. Could you have sat in the water and washed off a bit instead of just soaking feet?? Again, great pictures. Glad you enjoyed your ridge walk and views.
    A walk in the park with your rainbows, unicorns & puppies, loved it!! Glad you had someone you knew at camp. Love you to the mountains and back.

  4. Congrats on the 20+ mile day, looking forward to seeing you while you are in VA

  5. Great afternoon views - and love that foot bridge! You are amazing - 20+ miles:) How did you get the picture at the Guillotine? Love it!!

    1. Putt Putt and Tumble were hiking behind me. She took the picture for me

  6. Just watched the trailer for a new movie coming out in Sep called "A Walk in the Woods" with Robert Redford and Nick Nolte. It's about them hiking the Appalachian Trail. Saw some similar photos of the ones you have taken. Looks like a good movie:) Loved the photo of the Guillotine---Be safe Katie, Keep Stepping and enjoy the visit with the family.

  7. Wow Hitchcock Knob on your app looks almost straight up and down. Again Great Pics and journal keep up the good work.

  8. Loved your pictures today. You are really covering some miles too. Airlock will never catch back up to you. 😉