Friday, June 26, 2015

Day 43: The 15-Mile Zero Day

April 19: When I woke in the morning, the rain was coming down strong and steady and waiting until today to take a zero day looked like a brilliant idea. Amanda and I headed down to the dining area for breakfast and took our time chatting with the other guests, then I headed back upstairs to get online and start working on blog entries.

Amanda throws me out into the pouring rain. Today was supposed to be my zero day!
Worse zero day ever!

At around 10:30, I was flipping through my AT guidebook and a thought popped into my head. I needed to cover a bit less than 15 miles to reach the Partnership Shelter and logistically, that would be a much better place for me at the end of the day. Amanda and I planned to move our base of operations to Marion that afternoon, which was now much closer to my location on the trail than Damascus. And I knew transportation from Marion to the Partnership Shelter would be a lot easier than from Damascus to the Partnership Shelter. Not to mention that Amanda could leave all of the food and snacks that she bought for trail magic at the shelter itself which was practically right at a road crossing. It’s so close to the road, in fact, that you can even have pizza delivered from Marion directly to the shelter. It’s one of the things this shelter is famous for!

So I told Amanda my idea—despite the horrible rain happening outside, maybe I should actually hike anyhow. She wouldn’t have to drive me back to the trail the next day, I’d be able to get back on my own just fine, she’d have a place where she could leave all of the extra food and drinks for hikers to enjoy and I could just take my zero the next day to catch up on blog posts—it was supposed to rain tomorrow anyhow. I’d rather hike into town on a rainy day than out of it!

So we quickly packed up our bags and practically ran out the door. With the very late start I was getting, every minute mattered! I checked out of the B&B and had Amanda run out to Subway to pick up lunch for me while I walked over to the outfitters to look for a new pair of pants. (A large seam had ripped out right at my crotch, and these were due to be retired!) Alas, the outfitters hadn’t opened yet for the day and I didn’t have time to waste. I’d just use my spare pants that I normally wore in camp.

Someone is stalking me on the trail!

I met up with Amanda again and ate lunch in the car while she was driving. I didn’t really have time to eat on the trail and with the heavy rain, I probably wouldn’t find a good place to sit down and eat it anyhow.

Amanda had purchased two sandwiches, not sure which one I would prefer, and during the drive out, we caught Chuckles and Little Red walking out of the woods at a road crossing. Amanda stopped, backed up, and we jumped out asking if they wanted some trail magic. We gave them a soda and the other Subway sandwich, then jumped back into the car and continued the drive back to the trail where I had gotten off.

I was finally back on the trail and hiking at high noon. The rain was still coming down in buckets and looked like it had no intention of letting up, so I borrowed Amanda’s heavy red umbrella rather than using my flimsy, lightweight one and started hiking.

Just look at all those puddles of water in the trail!
I hiked more-or-less non-stop the entire distance, except for one quick stop at the Trimpi Shelter for a second lunch break. Four thru-hikers had already stopped for the day and built a fire inside. A tarp covered the outside and I startled Ha-ha with my unexpected arrival so badly, she actually screamed out loud. I was just trying to get out of the rain!

I hadn’t met any of these hikers before, although later I would hear from Little Red that Ha-ha is a stand-up comedian back in the real world and how awesome it must be if she gave performances in the shelters in the evening. =) If she does that, however, I haven’t had the joy of hearing her work since I have yet to share a shelter with her for the night. In fact, I never saw her again after this brief little lunch break of mine. (Maybe further up the trail, but as I type this a month later, I’ve yet to cross paths with her again so far.)

When I arrived at the Partnership Shelter, a few hikers had already made it there for the night, including Shoelace again who was surprised to see me since I had told him I was taking a zero day today and wouldn’t be seeing him. Ha! =)

“What did you do for your zero day?” I imagined Shoelace asking.

“I hiked 15 miles in the pouring rain.”

“That’s a pretty sucky zero day.”

“Yes, yes it is.” *nodding*


Amanda wasn’t there when I arrived—she had checked us into a motel in Marion and was still there, but she arrived quickly and we left most of the trail magic she still had in the trunk at the shelter. They already had Cokes and pizza, and we were going to leave all of the food there, but one of the hikers freaked out about that idea worried that bears would attack the shelter.

Whatever… Frankly, if she was really that worried about bears, she shouldn’t have a bunch of pizza boxes sitting on the picnic table in front of the shelter. Did she think bears would eat Skittles but skip out on the pizza? The shelter was a two-story structure that required climbing a ladder—leave the food there if you didn’t want it with you.

Amanda and I, in any case, were really quite surprised that the woman was so insistent that we not leave any food there. The place positively reeked of pizza already, and if bears were a problem, there would be a lot of signage about it. The biggest thing she should be fearing were the rodents that almost certainly prowled the shelter. Those were the only animals that would be raiding her food.

We did leave all of the canned drinks behind, though. She didn’t seem to worry about bears wanting to drink cans of cola.

We headed into town where I changed into dry clothes, then headed out for dinner choosing to dine at Macado’s. We also spotted two thru-hikers leaving—Wolverine and Germany—who we let raid what food we had left. The section-hiker’s loss was their gain! The food was good, but Amanda was disappointed to learn that the restaurant was a chain. When we arrived, we assumed it was a local, one-of-a-kind restaurant, neither of us having any idea it was a local chain until we saw the list of their other locations.

With dinner completed, we headed back to the hotel. There was a brief 15 minutes during my hike when the rain had stopped, but otherwise, it had been relentless all day long and when we flipped the TV to the Weather Channel, we learned that flood warnings were in effect all over the area.

Yep, that’s what I did on my zero day—hiked through the worst rain of the entire trail so far! I’d had better zero days. =)

The rain never let up!

I found these logs stuck in this tree with a single large rock on it. I felt the structure needed more rocks, however, and actually took the time to create the cairn in the tree despite the pouring rain. =)

This little fellow didn’t seem at all bothered with the rain!


The Partnership Shelter is famous because you can have pizza delivered to it!

The Mount Rogers Visitors Center is right next to the shelter, but it was closed when I arrived.

We ate at Macado’s for dinner. =)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Macadoo's! Virginia's College Town Restaurant. Ate at the one in Blacksburg many a time during my years at Virginia Tech!

DC Stones