Harper Creek (835.7) to Rockfish Gap/Waynesboro (861.9)
I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the views on the Appalachian Trail. The views have to be earned. The constant ups and downs on this trail are no joke, even for a guy like me with a few trail miles under his belt.
The early morning started with a climb to the top of yet another mountain. I was consoled by the regular rocky outcrops with expansive views. On one side of the ridge I could see the flat farmland, the other side had rolling hills.
Either there seemed to be a lot of easy flat trail today or my light backpack had me racing along the trail. On three occasions I nearly stood on a snake. Twice I noticed frogs on the trail. While filling up my water bottle I saw a small salamander in a small spring. And I was a couple of minutes late on seeing a black bear on the trail. There’s animals out here, specially when the weather warms up.
By late afternoon I arrived at Rockfish Gap. It’s the stepping off point for the town of Waynesboro, often called the friendliest town on the Appalachian Trail. It was off to a good start. At the trailhead there was a note with telephone numbers of local trail angels who offered free lifts to hikers. I arrived with two other hikers. Sara and Steve, the local trail angels, gave us a lift to town.
I checked into a hotel and washed my clothes in the bathtub. I was in the bathtub at the same time. By the time I was finished the water was chocolate brown in colour. I showered myself and my clothes clean. There was no laundry on site so I had to adapt. Most people can’t believe just how dirty Borg myself and my clothes can get while hiking.
My clothes were dry and smelling clean in the morning but I was not ready to get back into the trail. I picked up my bounce box from the post office and spent a couple of hours getting some personal things done. This left me tired. Before the post office closed I headed back to the post office to send my bounce box to myself further up the trail. It was late in the day. I wasn’t getting back on trail today. I took a zero day and relaxed for the evening.
I added about 1kg (2lb) or unneeded gear from my backpack to my bounce box. No need for rain pants, thermal top or bottom, extra socks and more. I cut some items out of my first aid kit and more. The base weight of my backpack is now under 6kg (13lb). And I’m making a plan to get rid of my stove next week. I’ll be going ‘stove less’, eating only meals that require no cooking. More on that later. Suffice to say I might have a 5.5kg (12lb) pack soon. It could be said that I’m almost ready to make the leap from lightweight hiker to ultra light hiker, I just can’t get rid of my camera gear.