Pearisburg, VA to Daleville, VA



Holy Family Hostel to Rice Field Shelter

Friday, 5/8

AT Miles = 6.8 / 632.7
Other Miles = 1.5 / 28.7
Total Miles = 8.3 / 661.4

As usual, it rained last night. It didn't matter, though, as I was sleeping on a mattress in the loft of the hostel at Holy Family Church in Pearisburg. By the time I left there this morning the rain had stopped and it was only overcast.

I met a hiker at the hostel with the trail name Western. Do you remember me writing about the morning after I camped at the pond, walking two miles to the shelter at Chestnut Knob planning to cook breakfast there, and the hiker I met there who ignored me when I said good morning? Well, I am 98% sure that hiker was Western, and he wasn't really ignoring me. Western is deaf so he never heard me.

Western does crazy things like hike 30 or 35 mile days. He is hiking the International Appalachian Trail (IAT), which means that when he gets to Katahdin he is nowhere near done. The IAT continues up into Canada and ends on the Gaspe Peninsula (OI think).

But back to me. That's what this blog is all about, after all. I left the hostel and walked back inbto downtown to get breakfast at Marsha's. I was lucky enough to meet a section hiker named Thistle there, and after breakfast he and his wife gave me a ride to the post office and then on to where I got off the trail on Tuesday afternoon. That saved me about a mile of road walking.

I only walked a few miles today. I wasn't feeling all that great after eating that big breakfast, and hauling the Food Bag From Hell (TM) up the steep hill out of town was tough work. When I got here to Rice Field Shelter I discovered something I haven't seen in a long time; a view! So I ate my lunch, enjoyed the view, then decided to hang my hammock and kick back and read my book for the afternoon.

I've finished dinner now and the sky is looking like it is getting ready to rain again tonight. If it's still raining in the morning I will be glad that I didn't go on and camp somewhere tonight, as it will be good to have ther shelter to cook and eat breakfast in out of the rain.

There is going to be a big hiker feed about 35 miles up the trail, on boith Sunday and Monday. I hope to be able to take advantage of that on Monday.

From where we are now I can hear the trains running along the tracks through the narrows along the New River. There's something magical about the sound of a train whistle.

I'll get back to making decent miles tomorrow, but I am going to try to hold my mileage down a bit for the next few days and see how my feet do. I still feel some hot spots on my left foot and I don't want it blowing up on me. There is a competitive side of me that finds it hard to hold back and let all the kids go on ahead. They make it look so easy!

Allen Freeman

Rice Field Shelter to Bailey Gap Shelter

Saturday, 5/9

AT Miles = 16.4 / 649.1
Other Miles = 0 / 28.7
Total Miles = 16.4 / 677.8

Water. The theme for today was water.

A series of storms rolled through last night. Storms with wind and rain and lightning and thunder. Five storms came through while I was in my hammock last night. The first one had winds coming in such a way that they lifted my tarp straight up and allowed the wind-driven rain to lash straight into my hammock. Fortunately that one didn't last too long, and my sleeping bag as a water repellant outer shell. After the rain I just wiped it down with my bandanna, and it stayed dry.

The other storms all woke me up, and there were some exciting moments, but for the most part I stayed dry and comfy, with the exception of some spray driven in under the tarp by the winds.

I left camp at 8:30 and at 9:00 another storm came through and got me soaked, but once it passed I dried out quickly.

There was LOTS of water on the trail today. Many, many sections of trail were running in several inches of water. It is amazing just how much raiin fell last night. After a few hours of slogging through water, things really got interesting when I got to what is usually a small stream that one would hop across on a coujple of rocks, but today it looked more like a white water river. It roared like the Colorado River pouring through the Grand Canyon (editor's note: the author has no idea what the Coloroado River sounds like going through the Grand Canyon. Please forgive his flights of fancy)

There was nothing else to do but take off my boots and socks, put on my sandals, and ford the raging stream. It was challenging and fun, but doing it with nobody else around is a bit uncomfortable since there is nobody to help if anything goes wrong.

There was also a couple places with blown-down trees where I had to take my pack off and crawl under dragginbg my pack behind me.

Then after lunch, there was an even bigger and deeper stream that had to be forded.This one had water up to my thighs, and it was nearly waist deep on some shorter hikers.

So I am at the shelter with a bunch of other hikers. It is raining again. There is so much water the ground all around the shelter is flowing in water. I am really happy I use a hammock and not a tent. I don't have to worry about trying to find a spot that is both level and dry.

I will be retreating to my hammock soon, and read my book and listen to the radio, and leave the overpacked shelter to the shelter dwellers.

Allen Freeman

Bailey Gap Shelter to Laurel Creek Shelter

Sunday, 5/10

AT Miles = 14.6 / 663.7
Other Miles = 0 / 28.7
Total Miles = 14.6 / 692.4


It didn't rain last night, and the sky cleared this morning! The sun came out! It was a glorious day! Thanks, Mom!

In honor of Mother's Day, I would like to note that this hiker never would have taken place if it weren't for my Mom . Not in the sense that sher planned it, or always wanted me to do this, or anything like that, but rather because she raised me to believe that I could pursue my dreams and if I tried hard enough, I could attain them.

The plan was for this blog entry to be headed by a photo I have on the photo gallery of my web site of my mother from back in the day. Unfortunately I couldn't get it to download to my cell phone.

In any case, my Mom is a pretty remarkable woman. She's suffered the loss of a child, and she has raised a husband and three sons more or less to maturity. I shudder when I think back on the stuff we put her through while we were going through our teenage years. But she never gave up on us. And Mom is always proud of the things I do, in the way that only a mother can be. She even thinks I'm a good writer!

So Mom, thank you for being my mom, and I hope you had a wonderful Molther's Day!


Allen Freeman

Laurel Creek Shelter to Brush Mountain

Monday, 5/11

AT Miles = 18.5 / 682.2
Other Miles = 1.0 / 29.7
Total Miles = 19.5 / 711.9

Today was about contrasts. I started the day with my mood matching the weather; cold and wet. But I ended the day feeling absolutely wonderful.

After hiking in a steady cold rain for hours, I managed to arrive at the Hiker Feed in Craig Crek Valley just as it was starting at 2:00PM. Lots and lots of food, drink, and wonderful company, and a warm fire to sit around as well. I stayed there for three hours, and never stopped eating. Beer, soda, hot mulled cider, chips, cookies, cakes, an amazing lasagna cooked in a dutch oven, fruit salad, hummus and pita bread, homemade brown bread, quesadillas, and some kind of berry dessert cooked in another dutch oven and topped off with ice cream! And on top of all that, by the time I finally left at 5:00PM the sky had cleared and the sun was out.

I was feeling so good, both physically from the infusion of real food, and emotionally because it's just wonderful when people do something nice for you just because they can, that I cruised the four uphill miles to where the Audie Murphy monument is on Brush Mountain, then walked about another mile until my watch said 7:00Pm, and I found a place just off the trail to hang my hammock and climbed in for the night.

Allen Freeman

Brush Mountain to Catawba Mountain Shelter

Tuesday, 5/12

AT Miles = 18.6 / 700.8
Other Miles = 0.2 / 29.9
Total Miles = 18.8 / 730.7

Last night was an awesome night. I had a few brief showers blow over me, then the moon came out orange through the clouds. It was so bright some of the birds even started singing! It got quite cold and around 3:30 this morning I took the down sweater I use as a pillow and put it on inside my sleeping bag.

I spent the day hiking up and down mountains, clambering over rock ledges, and strolling through cow pastures (one even had a bull watching over his harem). The weather was perfect, cool and sunny.

I nbroke my "unbreakable" lexan spoon while digging Nutella out of the jar at lunch time. That gave me something to think about as I hiked this Afternoon, as I tried to think of various schemes to splint my spoon back together until I can buy a new one in Daleville. BNut as it turned out, I don't need to. A formeer thru-hiker out for a section hike stopped by the shelter here, and she gave me a spoon. Score! That is what is known as "trail magic".

I've got a really short day planned for tomorrow, and intyend to spend most of the day just lazing about at McAfee Knob and along the Tinker Cliffs. Then on Thursday another short day into Daleville so I'll be there early and will be able to make the most of my town stay.

I am here with three section hikers from South Carolina tonight. They should be fun company.

Oh! Since I ate so much at the Hiker Feed yesterday I didn't have to cook my dinner last night, so I am having TWO dinners tonight.Now that's living large!

Allen Freeman

Seven Hundred

So did you notice in my last entry that I have reached the 700 mile mark? Sa-weet!

Only 26 more miles and I will have walked 1/3 of the trail.

Allen Freeman

Catawba Mountain Shelter to Lamberts Meadow Shelter

Wednesday, 5/13

AT Miles = 8.4 / 709.2
Other Miles = 0 / 29.9
Total Miles = 8.4 / 739.1

I purposely made it a very short day today. It was actually quite difficult. I slept an extra hour late. I took my time making breakfast. I walked slowly.

I got up to McAfee Knob about 9:30, and I hung out there until 11:30, then I mloseyed on to the Tinker Cliffs and hung out there until after 3:00, then finally walked the last mile or so to this shelter.

The highlight of the day, other than the great views, was nearly getting run over by a deer. I was at a place where the trail comes around a large rock outcropping, and as I came around one way the deer was coming around the other way. That was one startled deer!

Tomorrow it's off to Daleville. We are only about 9 miles away and the plan is to be there when the Pizza Hut AYCE buffet starts at 11:00. Then I'll get a motel room, do my shopping for the next leg of the hike, shower, wash my clothes, and enjoy all those town luxuries like flush toilets, TV, a bed with clean sheets, etc.

Allen Freeman

New Photos

New photos here:

Allen F. Freeman

Lamberts Meadow Shelter to Howard Johnson Express, Daleville VA

Thursday, 5/14

AT Miles = 9o.4 / 7`8.6
Other Miles = 0 / 29.9
Total Miles = 9.4 / 748.5

Quite a crew of thru-hikers showed up last night, and joined myself and the two Marines already at the shelter. Everybody was talking about the AYCE buffet at Pizza Hut in Daleville, and they all decided to get up at 6:00 so they could be there by 11:00.

It was strange not being the only one awake early in the morning, as I am usually tip-toeing around trying to be quiet and not wake everybody else while eating my breakfast and breaking camp.

I was on the trail by 7:00 and in Daleville a few minutes after 10:00. The two section hiking Marines agreed to join us for the big feed, and arrived just a few minutes after me. By 10:30 the whole crew was assembled, and when the restaurant opened at 11:00 we were very disappointed to find out that they did not do a buffet!

All was not lost as we repaired next door to a Mexican restaurant that had lunch specials. Several margaritas, and boat load of chips and salsa, and a couple of lunch platters later, I was sitting sated and happy. The two young Marines said they had to hit the road home andleft. A bit later I asked for my check and was informed by the waitress that "thos two guys that were sitting on the end" had already paid everybody's tab. Wow. There were about a dozen of us so that must have cost them a couple hundred bucks. Thanks Bulls-Eye and friend (sorry, I only remember one trail name).

When I left the restaurant I headed across the road and got a room at the motel. After showering I walked up the road to do my shopping, then wasted the rest of the afternoon and evening staring at the TV. It's amazinf how enjoyable TV is when you don't get to see it much.

Allen Freeman


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Copyright 1996 - 2011 Allen F. Freeman
Last modified: November 03, 2011