Monday, May 3, 2010

James River to Punchbowl Mountain

We are taking a zero today.  It’s good to have a day off from hiking to let my feet and knees recover.  The only thing I planned to do today was to wash a load of hiking clothes.  That’s done, and now it’s on to resting.

James River far below

My hike from the James River started with a big climb.  That is always the case, whether from a river, a creek, or a gap, it is always uphill to get out.  I was very pleased with my trek uphill--almost 3,000 ft in about 2 miles in 1 hour an 15 minutes.  However, I guess I used up all my energy, because later in the day I didn’t think I was going to get up the next 1000 foot mountain.

Gene was hiking south and he had his own 1000 feet to climb at the beginning of his hike.  We met for lunch somewhere close to the middle.

Punchbowl Shelter

We each saw several other hikers.  My personal favorite was a day hiker who passed me very early in my hike.  He must have run up the mountain, because when I crested the top, he was there with his boots off, swinging in the breeze in his hammock, enjoying the day.  I spent a few minutes talking with him while gasping for big gulps of air.  Apparently, he does this little hike often.

Gene saw several thru-hikers.  We have been putting a cooler of cold drinks in the bed of the truck each day we hike.  When we encounter a thru-hiker, we tell them to help themselves when they get to the truck.  The cokes were all gone when we got back to the truck yesterday.  I’m glad for the hikers to have them, but, boy, was I ever looking forward to an ice cold coke myself.

We enjoy hiking, but there are days when I wonder why I do it.  Yesterday was one of those judgement questioning days.  It was hot and the sweat was just pouring off.  The gnats, I guess, saw me as their life-saving fountain.  It was not uncommon to swipe three of four out of my eyes at once.  I finally put on a head net.  It was hot and I could barely see out, but it gave me relief from those beastly gnats.

The remains of an old fire tower on top of Bluff Mtn
This morning, Gene and I discussed how miserable it would have been to come into the shelter in the afternoon after a long, hard day on the trail with all our clothes soaked from sweat, skin smelling of Deet, too tired to stand up and no good place to sit down.  How wonderful it was to get in the truck and come home to a hot shower and clean clothes and the longed for ice cold coke.

Well, I think that about sums up yesterday.  After lunch today we may drove over to the outfitter in Waynesboro to have a look around.  That should be fun.  Who knows what I’ll find that I didn’t know I needed.

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