22, 1983 Wednesday (1495.2 mtg) From
Gonzo!s Appalachian Trail journal
we found that the trail had been relocated around Newport, Virginia.
I was scheduled to pick up a package at the post office there, so
now the next post office that I come across I will have to send
a letter to the post master at Newport and have them forward the
package to a destination farther on. The relocation took about 10
miles off of the original trail so we arrived at Niday Shelter at
the middle of the day rather than ending our day there. For several
miles before we reached Niday Shelter, the path followed a treacherous
ridgeline over Sinking Creek Mountain. At the peak of the miles-long
ridge were huge flat slabs of rock tilted at about a 45 degree angle
that the trail passed over forcing us to be careful as we traversed
or we would end up at the bottom of the slabs - undoubtedly covered
with scratches. To top it off, there were rumblings in the not to
distant skies as the afternoon heat began to produce the possibility
of rain. The slabs would be murder in the rain. Although it did
rain during part of the traverse, we successfully navigated the
remaining sloping rocks and headed down on a trail that was overgrown
with poison ivy up to my knees. There was no avoiding it, so
I plowed right on through. I don't know if it was because the leaves
were wet from rain, or the fact that I washed as soon afterwards
as I could, but I managed to not have a reaction to it. Usually
I am highly allergic to it.
At Niday, we met a couple of thru hikers, who were actually a couple,
known as Ma & Pa Cretin, one of the best trail names I had heard
so far. I liked the sound of it. We took a break there while I washed
in the stream nearby.
Not long after leaving Niday Shelter we encountered one of the areas
that is forever etched into my memory as one of the most "boring"
sections. The area in itself is rather interesting, but the amount
of it is a little too much. The description in the guide says "for
the next six miles, with little change in elevation, the trail traces
a snaking course along the western slope of Brushy Mountain, crossing
successive ridges and gullies with intermittent streams." There
is little change in elevation, and each turn is so much like the
last that it becomes annoying after a while. The weather was somewhat
rainy and foggy. After this section, we stopped for a long break
at Trout Creek before putting in the last mile to the blue-blazed
side trail to Pickle Branch Shelter. I was leary of going the half
mile down to Pickle Branch shelter since the last time I was here
there were reports of having to walk through tall grass that contained
hoards of ticks ready to be brushed off onto your passing legs.
This I did not want to experience. This year was different, and
there were no problems with voracious ticks. We checked ourselves
none-the-less. We met George at the shelter. George Steffanos was
one of the hikers we had caught up to at Pearisburg, but left the
morning after our first night there. I had been following George
through the registers at the shelters for some time because I was
entertained by his humorous writings. He had written hilarious songs,
and little stories about the backpacker with no name modeled after
the character in some of the spaghetti westerns starring Clint Eastwood.
It was a thrill finally getting to meet him and talk with him. We
had briefly met in Pearisburg, but not enough to get to know him.
I read about his death defying rush to Pearisburg to escape the
lightening and hail on the mountains that dropped down to the New
River, and actually was only a day or two behind him at the time.
We had not encountered the hail like he had. I also had read about
the shin splints that he developed as a result. Now with shin splints,
and shoes that were falling apart, we were able to catch up with
Appalachian Trail Journals ©1983