Sunday, April 30, 2017

Mountains! Well ... Appalachian sized ones

Three days of unfocused effort to put all those mundane affairs on hold -- bills paid,  gift sent to my mother-in-law for Mothers Day, bathroom swamped out, &c -- trail food mixed, the Atmos checked and packed, gear checked.  Added preps for this trip have filled the Ion with four tubs and a duffel to (hopefully) extend my ability to keep rolling out these five day segments. 

On the road again! The trucks, motorcycles, and SUVs on Interstate 81 seemed less intent than usual at terrifying us all as they twisted their way past slow-moving RVs and subcompacts. There was even time for quick glances at the ridgeline to my left when I saw an exit to a familiar town or attraction -- yep, I've been up there, and there, too.

Coming in to Roanoke, though, the shadowed heights on the southwestern skyline made it clear that I ain't seen nuthin' yet. It's going to be a long hard hike from Catawba to Bland.

I worked my way through the Roanoke-Salem "traffic corridor", took the exit for Pearisburg and scooted down a nearly deserted four-lane highway toward the mountains. It cut back to two lanes before I turned onto a side road.  The rough pavement had no centerline and gradually shrunk to one and a half lanes, then into hard packed gravel, and then to rutted dirt as it climbed steadily into the hills.

And there, waiting for me, Wood Hole Hostel, my staging camp for the next two weeks.

Woods Hole Hostel
Talk about stereotypes! A dog ran out and barked at my car until I found a place to park, then quietly waited for me to step out and greet her. Dozens of starry eyed thru hikers milled about, playing guitars, doing group yoga, waiting for dinner, and mostly trying to ignore the twelve mile snail section hiker. The owners showed up an hour later, they were out negotiating the sale of their prize sow.

I left the Ion in Neville and Michael's care, accepted the offer of a natural health smoothie, and loaded my hiking gear into the owner's SUV for the shuttle back to Roanoke. Motel 6, Waffle House down the street. I've been here a few times.

Tomorrow will be a zero day hanging around the lodge. Rain, thunderstorm, wind gusts up to 29 mph have delayed my plan. Tuesday's weather looks better for escorting Barbara Cook up to get the ritual photo taken of her on the overhanging point at McAfee Knob.

Then, on toward Woods Hole Hostel on my own, following those white blazes.

The trail is calling

Apologies for the delay in posting photos. The new Google security model appears to have "welded the safe door shut" on me, ensuring that no images of questionable security status are displayed and therefore completely preventing me from doing so while I am posting from my Android tablet.

Until I resolve the issue, please enjoy browsing the photo files here .

Thanks for reading -- comments are always welcome!

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