April 30, 1998

4/30/98 Symms Gap Meadow

11.7 miles (626.9 total)

Yesterday a few more thru-hikers made it in: Backpacking Fool, Kiddle, Pied Piper, Bushrod and Crazy Old Man.com. But no Crawdad. My gut feeling was always that he’s still too far behind - but I’m ever the optimistic. Fool and I went down to the Capital Cafe for a beer. It is the only bar we saw. After 9pm, we were the only patrons. So we decided to call it an early night.

This morning I had every intention of getting an early start, but I’m not sure why, I did not. First, I had a BIG hill to climb out on after crossing the New River. Second, the first shelter was at 7 miles but the next one was another 12. Bushrod’s wife dropped me off at the Dairy Queen for breakfast and soon after I was headed for the trail. I’d gotten about half way to the bridge when I decided to take one more chance on Ol’Crawdad, and stay till after lunch. So it was one more trip to Pizza Hut’s AYCE buffet. It was weird because I hardly knew any of the hikers there.

Took off about 12:30 with the skies definitely looking like rain. Most of the climb out of the valley was in one of those hot, humid, sprinklers. But by time I reached the ridge, the wind had picked up a lot. Got to the Rice Field Shelter about 4pm. I got lonely all over again reading the register about all my friends a day ahead like Ghandi, Smiley, Samson, Veto and Chunky. I’m not going to chase them, but I’ll go steady so I might see them again before Waynesboro.

Decided I still had plenty of daylight, so the map stated that Symns Gap Meadow was about 5 miles further down the trail. No sooner had I left the shelter when I met a lone southbound woman. She said the meadow had a campsite and that was all the encouragement I needed.

Really didn’t have anymore rain, just a lot of wind. But the clouds are rumbling east of the ridge, so I’m probably going to have a storm tonight. Just like most of the balds we’ve seen before, the meadow gives me a great view of West Virginia out my tent door. Was hoping for a good sunset but the clouds had other plans. So here I sit writing in my journal. It’s been awhile since I’ve camped alone on this trip. I am hoping to create a few good habits in the coming weeks: I actually took time out today, during the rain, to practice the penny whistle. Hoping for twice a day practice. Plus I’ve started an evening stretching routine. Even did a little Tai Chi tonight (my knees protested a lot!). Will try and keep up Samson’s push-up schedule and I might add a few curls and ab work. So I better put this away and get started.