As we parted at the traihead the day before yesterday, Gary Serra said I would have an easy, smooth climb to the Punch Bowl. After yesterday's march, I agree with one of his words, and then only in the plural form.
Around Lynchburg Reservoir ... flat on the topo, but actually weaving up, down, and along the stream cut side of the ridge.
A suspension bridge! Structural integrity not verified, one never knows, but I made it across. Bouncy
The first climb, Rice Mountain, just 500' to 2166'; but, numbers, well, are just scratches on paper. Píkachu caught up with me just before noon and took a few minutes to share his map -- yup, almost to the top of Rice Mountain, then only three miles and 300' to the shelter.
An indelible memory -- the straggle-haired barbarian hero striding off with his "never give up" banner held high, a minimum amount of clothing to preserve modesty, and a little stufffed doll clinging to his cyclist's pack.
It seemed that most of the second climb was after the sign claiming the shelter was only tenth of a mile ahead, but it was there it was, another welcome shaded dell and spring.
After resting overnight and rehydrating at the shelter, I planned a 500 foot climb in a half mile to the Punchbowl peak and another 500' in one mile to the top of Bluff Mountain will finish off the mountains before the Trail turns back to a southwesterly direction.
I have a contingency spring picked out on the south side of Bluff Mountain if the climb and the heat are too exhausting, but my goal is the last spring and campsite before crossing the James River. When? Doesn't matter that much.
Late last night, I thought I heard the noises of people moving around quietly setting up camp, and was grateful that they were not talking to avoid disturbing their fellow traveler who had already retired to his tent. When I rose to answer nature's call, however, I did not see any tents, and the Punchbowl still has only one human occupant.
Glad I did a careful job of cleaning up and hanging my bear bag.
Persistent headache this morning. I am taking a zero day in the woods.