Tuesday, March 29th, 2016
Start: Punchbowl Shelter
End: Thunder Hill Shelter
Miles: 25.1 (+0.2 for shelter side trail)
I got up at 6am and was out on the trail by 6:45am.
I climbed Punchbowl Mountain (2850′) and Bluff Mountain (3372′), past Big Rocky Row (2992′), past Johns Hollow Shelter (1021′), over James River Footbridge (the trail’s longest foot-use-only bridge) (678′), past Matts Creek Shelter (848′), climbed Highcock Knob (3064′), down to Petites Gap (2369′), and up to Thunder Hill Shelter (3917′).
I was warned by AT Wheeler that Thunder Hill Shelter didn’t have any water so I shlepped water from 3 miles away and that was a good plan. The shelter’s water source (an old, shallow, open well) has barely an inch of muddy water.
When I arrived at the shelter, four local boys doing a three day section hike were there. They moved to camp up the hill so they wouldn’t disturb me. Later, when the stove I had glitched out and wouldn’t cook my dinner, they kindly let me borrow one of their stoves.
As I was cooking dinner and the sun was going down, Bearbait, a NOBO thru-hiker from GA who started February 1st, arrived at the shelter. I let him have half a liter of my water when it became evident he had almost no water left.
Tomorrow, I head into town to stay at a motel so I can split my miles better, rather than relying exclusively on shelters.