10-4-09 day 124
start: Helvey's Mill Shelter, VA
end: Island Campsite (near) Jenkins Shelter, VA
daily mileage: 14.0
total mileage: 1607.0
We headed into Bland, VA (seriously?) for a resupply in the morning. Fiddler and No Money also did, so we're hoping that we'll run into them later. Now, for this to make sense you need to know something about our guidebook, The Companion. It lays out most information in a table format, with each line giving a mileage and information about the waypoint. So when we go into town, it tells us where the trail crosses that road, and how many miles down is a town in which direction. Sometimes, however, the trail crosses a complicated interchange, or crosses a small road that leads to a bigger road which leads into town. In these cases, the companion invariably just condenses everything into one waypoint, "simplifying" things and making it seem like the trail just crosses the bigger road. They have a system that works for simple intersections, so why give additional information when it's not actually that simple? Just force it! One is supposed to know, magically, how these complicated intersections work.
Rant notwithstanding, we got a bit lost and had to backtrack about a mile. But we eventually got directions and a hitch from a really nice family on its way back from church who dropped us off at the town grocery. They didn't have our normal bagel-and-cream-cheese breakfast foods, so Sea Monster got a 1-lb pound cake and 1-lb can of frosting for breakfast, and I got a giant 2lb tub of cheesecake filling for my most important meal of the day (which I ended up sprinkling cookie crumbs in). Being a grown up is awesome!
We had some subway for lunch, and enventually got back on the trail. We met a guy who was hiking a section northbound with some friends, but had apparently gone past the shelter (he was aiming for the same shelter we were aiming for) and needed help. It was strange meeting this man, a 40-something, who seemed so incredibly helpless and frightened... I mean, he had just gone a bit too far, but he really latched on to us and practically begged us to help him. In any case, he followed us back south and we got him to the shelter. We decided to camp a bit north of the shelter on a really idyllic, beautiful penninsula looking patch of land formed by a river. We built a fire, cooked our dinner over it, had some hot chocolate, and had a really nice, quiet night.