Wednesday, October 5, 2016
Start: Whitetop Mountain Rd
End: Hurricane Mountain shelter
This morning, I was up at 6am and met my shuttle driver at 7am in Damascus. I was on trail by 7:45am at Whitetop Mountain Rd (5087′).
Today was ponies! Interestingly, I only saw wild ponies before I entered the Grayson Highlands. In the Highlands, I saw longhorn steer but no ponies. According to signage, the ponies were introduced to keep the bald areas clear (I think for cattle). Each year, they’re rounded up, provided medical checks and treatment, and occasionally sold to control herd size.
I climbed Brier Ridge (5215′), Mt Rogers side trail (5430′), Thomas Knob Shelter (5413′), Fatman squeeze (5358′), entered the Grayson Highlands, Wise shelter (4409′), exited the Grayson Highlands, Stone Mountain (4820′), The Scales livestock corral (4648′), Pine mountain trail (4950′), Old Orchard shelter (4066′), Fox creek/VA 603 (3480′), Chestnut flats (4240′), and down to Hurricane Mountain shelter (3788′).
Today’s miles were a bit long but I arrived at the shelter by 5:30pm. I’m sharing the shelter with another hiker, Chaser, who is a flip flop thru-hiker. Tonight should get down to ~50 degrees and it’s windy. I’ll bed down warm and won’t want to get up in the morning, I imagine. I have 19 miles to hike tomorrow to get to the Partnership shelter, one of the few AT shelters where you can order a pizza!
Chaser recommended a new hostel between Marion and Pearisburg. I might check it out. It’s currently set to rain (30-40% chance) on Friday and Saturday. I was supposed to camp out those nights but might need to shift my plans around a bit, depending on weather. I’m also currently planning on getting a shuttle to Angels Rest hostel and slackpacking into Pearisburg for my last day or so on the trail.