Tuesday, May 27, 2014

AT Project in VA: Red Sky At Morning

Appalachian Trail Project in VA – 3/16/14 – Partnership Shelter to Hwy 11 – 11.5 Miles

Daylight savings time changes are challenging for those who wake up with the sun.  Deep inside the shelter, which was deep in the mountains, the sunrise didn’t register with us until nearly 7:30 a.m.  I opened one eye and realized I could see the picnic table out front, then sat up and leaned forward to see from whence came the faint light. 

Spectacular sunrise in red/orange/purple.   As we all marveled at the palette, someone said, “red sky at morning, sailors take warning,” and we remembered the 90% forecast for soaking rain coming in.  Time to get moving.

A cold breakfast of hard-boiled eggs and a packet of almond butter went down the hatch as we hurriedly packed up.  A stiff wind was blowing, low 40’s, and beyond the sunrise colors were gray skies.  We were on our way by 8:00 a.m.

Crossing Highway 16, this sign reminded us of our miles to go.  If we were lucky we would put some behind us before the rain began.

One cold night in a shelter does not provide enough rest to start “fresh” again.  As I expected, my legs were still tired and my pack felt very heavy, but by putting one foot in front of the other eventually it got better.  I took the steepest climb over Locust Mountain very slow and steady, not bad at all.  I’ve learned that I am much better on the obvious, anticipated climbs than on the little ones that are not noticeable on the elevation profile and take me by surprise, I guess because I don’t slow down on those like I should.  I was still last in line but usually within a glimpse of the others.

Passing under power lines, we could hear the humming as Chris got “tingly.”

We stopped at Chatfield Shelter for a snack, remarking that the rain was holding off, but we put on pack covers and rain jackets to be prepared.  At this point it was still windy and quite chilly and no more significant uphills on the map…but even the insignificant bumps were taxing as we hurried to finish our hike.

The Lindamood School, circa 1894, part of the Settlers Museum of Southwest Virginia, closed today. 
This red barn was a beacon for miles as we descended through open pastures and an old apple orchard into the Great Valley.

The highlight of the day, especially for Chris, who is an eighth grade science teacher, was a proliferation of carniverous pitcher plants growing in a bog beside railroad tracks.  A set of boards carries hikers through the bog.

Past the bog there was more climbing through open meadows.  We could hear and then see both Highway 11 and I-81 for more than a mile as we switchbacked down.  Cathy and Amy were ahead and Chris and I brought up the rear.  As we caught sight of our car, the rain began to fall. 

“Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.”  ~Rachel Carson

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