I have been in love with Virginia for as long as I can remember. I’ve always thought that the stretch of I-81 between Knoxville, TN and Wytheville, VA is the most beautiful stretch of Interstate Highway in the country. Cruising past the rolling mountains, green pastures, and red barns is always a treat and, having made that drive so many times over the years, those views have become a part of my DNA. Therefore, those pastoral scenes were also a part of my expectations for hiking the A.T. through Virginia, but so far, that has not been the case. A few days ago, I met a day hiker from Wytheville, and related this same story to her, and expressed my disappointment. Instead of hiking past beautiful farms with fields full of cows, I’ve been walking through forests of leafless trees with the ground covered in dead leaves.
All that has changed in the past few days. When I left Atkins, VA, I was on a mission to get to Pearisburg, VA by Saturday to get picked up by my sister for a “zero.” All I had to do was get an early start for the next four days in order to add four extra miles each day to my original plan, so that I could overcome the time lost by my rain delay in Marion, VA. Setting out bright and early, I walked the I-81 underpass, and rejoined the trail through a beautiful meadow that was bursting with spring. The trail was still muddy from all the rain, but the smell of honeysuckle made me forget about the trail conditions.
Throughout the day, the trail meandered past lovely farms and passed through green pastures. This is not to say that there weren’t times where the trail went through the woods, but for the most part, it was the Virginia that I had envisioned. The change in scenery was most welcomed.
Near the Davis Path Campsite, I passed a sign indicating another milestone! I have actually completed one fourth of the A.T. Not only is it hard for me to believe that I have actually walked that far, but it seems that the time has so quickly gone by.
Crossing VA 610, I was so engrossed by my surroundings that I apparently missed a sign that the trail had been rerouted due to a bridge being flooded. When I got to the Holston River, the bridge was under water leaving me with another obstacle to overcome. As bad as it appeared, getting over this turned out to be much easier than the flooded streams that I crossed yesterday. I had solid concrete footing, the water was only ankle deep, and I was on the other side in no time.
My original intention was to spend the night near the Knot Maul Branch Shelter, but I knew I needed to add four more miles to my day. A couple of miles later, I caught up with Captain and Be who decided to call it a day at the Lynn Camp Creek, and after visiting for a bit, I tackled the 600 foot pimple called Lynn Camp Mountain. A big climb at the end of the day is never fun, but eventually I headed downhill to arrive at the Lick Creek Footbridge. The campsite that I had wanted to use was already taken, so I continued across the bridge and found a nice flat space covered by a soft bed of leaves. I’m calling it a night having not only made my mileage goal, but also having enjoyed a romp through the Virginia countryside that satisfied my Virginia vision of the A.T.