May 2, 1998

5/2/98 Niday Shelter

18.1 miles (664.3 total)

Got a late start this morning, at least compared to yesterday. My plan was to do 18 miles, including 2 valley crossings. Grendel and Swiss Miss were doing a short day to Sawyer Cabin campsite. I still had thoughts I might catch some of the gang. It was actually partly sunny all day - but rain was forecast for the afternoon.

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I reached the next shelter. There was Ghandi and Moondaddie. They were challenging each other to do a zero mile day. They did their best to suck me in but the profile looked better to do a long day now, and a shorter one tomorrow.

Moondaddie and Ghandi in the battle of wills

Crossed a lot of farms heading back up to another ridge. But after really struggling to make the elevation, I couldn’t rest much because those thunderstorms were definitely headed my way. So, I hauled ass up on the ridgeline - adrenaline can be a good thing. I saw black clouds on each side and heard thunder, but it never did rain. Good thing too, because the flat ridgeline turned into one of those 45 degree slanted slabs of rock for at least a mile. Finally, the trail started to descend off the ridgeline.

Steep slope on either side of the ridge

Those last couple of miles down were almost too much for these old legs. Just like coming down to Pearisburg, I began to get silly. At one point I was calling out to the shelter like it was hiding. That shelter sure was a welcome sight. I did all my camp chores like getting water and putting my gear away before letting my body have my undivided attention. Boy, did I get it. My legs hurt in places like never before. The Ibuprofen couldn’t work fast enough for me. I would have paid dearly for a painkiller. I never felt great but I did feel better.

After dinner, I settled in to see if anyone else might show up. When it got dark and started to rain, I thought I’d have my first shelter alone since I started this trip. But about 8:30pm I heard young female voices - my prayers had been answered! But who should show up but Toolman and Longstride with their girlfriends. Even though it was dark, raining and the shelter empty, they decided to tent. Longstride says the plan is to hike 10 mile days to Troutville but he thinks it will end in Catawba.