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Begins: Mar 1, 2010
Date: Wed, Apr 28th, 2010
Start: Rod Hollow Shelter
End: Blackburn AT Center
Daily Distance: 17.8
Trip Distance: 707.5
Entry Visits: 1,593
Journal Visits: 13,856
Guestbook Views: 3,843
Guestbook Entrys: 89
Appalachian Trail Map
Started on the famous "Roller Coaster" almost immediately after leaving the shelter. The AT runs through a relatively "thin" corridor of land for several miles and the trail designers apparently didn't have much room to do switchbacks, etc. In the end, the issue for us wasn't really about the elevation gains (we are used to that) but the ROCKS. I hate walking on rocks- they tend to roll your ankles, hurt your feet, and cause your knees and hips to ache. But- onward we went. To keep our sense of humor, we clicked our hiking poles together on every uphill (to sound like a roller coaster car approaching the first hill) and went "Weeeeeee: as we crossed the top. Yep- that is what spending two months in the woods will do to you!!!
We took a welcome break at the Bears Den Hostel, a beautiful stone building that is owned by the ATC and run as a hostel center. The folks we met last night stayed there and recommended that we stop by. Getting into the hostel is an experience like a Harry Potter book with a secret code that only thru-hikers will know (or not- two graduate degrees and we struggled). Beside the break, we enjoyed the cold drink. We couldn't stay as we were there by lunch time, but they had done an amazing job on the place and I hope I can stay there in the future.
The next section was down to a road crossing (VA-7), where a cold wind was blowing. This was "Snickers Gap" and we just had to stop and have one since Snickers are a major food group for us. Finally reached the WV/VA sign after a brief climb and took a picture. This was my major goal for the trip- to walk the 500+ plus miles of the trail in VA end-to-end, so I was forced to do a little jig (ugly). The sign for Southbounders was a little sobering- showing the TN line 500 miles away. It made us realize how far we has come. Beautiful view from Crescent Rock, then climbed through something called the "Devils Racecourse". Next was more roller coaster, and more rocks. We finally climbed a ridgeline, and saw a hiker-made arch marking the approximate 1,000 mile point (700 for us). We made BearBox join us in a jig, then moved on. We were tired from the rocks, and the ridgeline seemed to go on forever. We finally made it to the Blackburn Center.
The AT Blackburn Center is a small conference center owned by the PATC, and they have a small cabin with bunks for hikers. With the cooler temps we were happy to have an enclosed building and a woodstove. The caretaker (Bryan) stopped by and welcomed us, and then invited us to come to dinner. He is a trained chef and extremely nice young man, and is a credit to the PATC. RevLee and BearBox enjoyed a pasta dinner with fresh veggies (I had to eat my own cooking because of the wheat allergies, but no worries- I enjoyed the company). All in all, one of our favorite nights on the trail.
"It is solved by walking" - Augustine
Lee's Journal: www.postholer.com/revlee
Jon's Journal: www.postholer.com/cinderblock
Pictures at: http://picasaweb.google.com/DripDry860/AT2010