I couldn't sleep last night, so I got up at 4 AM to finish the last 13 miles into Pearisburg.
The wind was strong last night and kept me awake. Tree branches creaked above me and all I could think about was how dead branches got the nickname "widowmakers".
Anyway, I'm glad I'm up early. The sunrise was beautiful as always and the views today are even better with the low morning fog filling the valleys.
I stayed in a motel last night for a shower and laundry. Someone told me once that staying in a motel was cheating. I disagree. I mean, I need to maintain some measure of personal hygiene out here. The woman running the motel offered to do my laundry, which was great. Now I smell as clean as a common dayhiker.
When I stepped out of the shower, I happened to catch a glance of myself in the mirror. The weight loss took me back a bit. I look like I'm getting ready to audition for the role of an AIDS patient in some Lifetime movie of the Week. Maybe an exaggeration, but I see ribs, shoulders, and hip bones starting to poke out like Freddy Krueger pushing through the wall in Nightmare on Elm Street.
I got dressed and immediately went across the street to the all you can eat chinese buffet to gorge. The food was terrible, but I ate what I could. Later, I ordered a large pizza and ate half of it and had the rest for breakfast this morning. Then for lunch, I went to McDonalds, but only managed to eat one McDouble and a hot fudge sundae. I don't seem to have the appetite most thru-hikers have. I never thought I'd ever have to try so hard to GAIN weight.
I stayed in town to eat another meal. I just wanted to be in the mountains before sunset.
Above Pearisburg, VA
I woke up not expecting snow today, but it didn't last long. My water bottle, that was sitting beside me all night, was full of ice.
I'm in the town of Bland, VA... which, believe it or not, is a place. I planned this stop so soon after Pearisburg so I wouldn't have to carry six days of food. Especially since the weight loss over the past couple months has caused me to carry more food per day. As it happens, carrying a 30 pound backpack up and down mountains for 20 miles every day is one hell of a calorie burner. I looked over the menu on the wall, behind the girl in a blue and black Dairy Queen uniform, trying to decide which was the most calorie filled snack.
"I'll have the Turtle Waffle Bowl Sundae." Simply saying those words outloud made me feel twenty pounds heavier.
"Would you like the waffle bowl dipped in chocolate?" she asked.
"Sure," I said, almost shamefully, "Why not?"
It's much smaller in reality than the menu photo suggested. Even still, I'm finding it hard to finish the caramel, whipped cream, and, melted ice cream that has puddled in the bottom. Uhh, now I'm craving healthy food and that's no good.
When you don't stay in a shelter or designated campsite, they call it stealth camping. You may notice that white blaze on the tree my hammock is hanging on. That means I setup camp right on the trail, I didn't have a lot of options as it was well after nightfall when I decided to stop, with steep hill down on one side and a steep hill up on the other. Is this still considered "stealth" camping"?
They called it a privy, but where's the "privacy"?