9-28-09 day 118
start: Bailey Gap Shelter, VA
end: Holy Family Catholic Church Hostel in Pearisburg, VA
daily mileage: 23.2
total mileage: 1552.4
We found ourselves in a delicate situation this morning - hike 23 miles to Pearisburg, or find ourselves totally without food tomorrow and starve to death. Actually, we always try to buy food such that this happens before a town, because it's a great motivator to make big miles. So, we woke up nice and early (5:30) and started our hike in the dark.
We made it 4 miles to the next shelter where several of our friends were staying the night and hadn't yet left, and pushed on. It was windy and cloudy, and we were all on tinderhooks to see if the rain would hold out. We enjoyed a lunch on top of a beautiful ridge with No Money, Fiddler, Gooch, and Bacon (all of whom are also headed to Pearisburg) and made awesome time... we ended up getting into Pearisburg around 3. The town is SUPER spread out though, with the trail about 3 miles south of downtown and the hostel about 2 miles north of it. We got a hitch downtown, but had to walk all the way up to the hostel and didn't get there for another hour or so.
We decided that this was the perfect place to celebrate Sea Monster's birthday, so we decided to wander down a crazy side trail from the hostel to a Mexican restaurant. This "side trail" mostly consisted of us bushwhacking across an overgrown field with no discernable markings, and eventually climbing 15 feet down a moat-like ditch and then back out to reach the shopping center. When we finally got there, I bought Sea Monster a margarita and we had some delicious mexican... though we did make the mistake of assuming that the hot sauce they gave us could be slathered onto everything as we've been doing with Tobasco for the last several months, and nearly burned our tongues off.
We then wandered over to Wal-mart (just next to the restaurant) and got some food to cook in the hostel the next day (as we were planning on zeroing in Pearisburg). As we foolishly frittered our time away in Wally World, however, the sun very inconspicuously began to set. We left the store in the pitch black, and quickly realized that bushwhacking through this crazy field would be impossible... there were ditches everywhere, we had no headlamps, and death was assured. So we stood outside Walmart for a while, looking like hobos, asking random people to drive us to the hostel. After about half an hour of rejections, we grew desperate. It was time to brave the bushwhack back.
My memory of the return journey is dominated by images of us crawling through hedges and climbing over barbed-wire fences. We discovered an entire pond that we'd never seen before. And yet, somehow, we made it back alive, another adventure completed.