After three zeros for a trip to Richmond and Norfolk and all of the excitement on the highway yesterday, it was nice to get back to the trail today. As we set up the cars for the shuttle I set out a box of trail magic that the Princess’ mother, Jackie, had given me on Monday when we left Norfolk. In the metal box was an assortment of food and snacks ranging from Sardines to potato chips. I set the box at the spot where we would finish the hike for the day, where the AT crosses Route 60 about nine miles east of Buena Vista. When we finished our hike late that afternoon the box was completely empty, so Jackie, you are an official trail angel and the hikers really appreciated your trail magic!
Whiskers, Rocket and I then drove down to our starting point at the James River on Virginia Route 501 and at 9:00 a.m. with the temperature in the low 40’s we started our 22-mile hike. It was cool but felt really good as we climbed up Little Rocky Row, then Big Rocky Row, then Bluff Mountain. Before long we were down to shorts and t-shirts…and drinking lots of water.
There were several dramatic views and one interesting monument at the top of Bluff Mountain. The monument commemorated Little Ottie Cline Powell, a four year old child who in 1881 wandered off from his schoolhouse, got lost and apparently walked seven miles to the top of Bluff Mountain where he died. I wish I knew more of the story because I have a lot of questions, including this one…Why would a four-year-old child leave school, walk seven miles and climb a 3372 foot mountain? It’s the kind of mystery that begs for further investigation.
At about the fifteen mile point in the hike we ran into a thru-hiker who I met over a week ago by the trail name of Coolie MacJetpack – now that’s an interesting trail name. Coolie had a radio show when he was in college and he and his partner on the show invented strange characters. One of those characters was Coolie MacJetpack and Coolie the hiker liked the name so much that he adopted it for his trail name.
Coolie was having a rough day, he had fallen and cut his hand earlier in the day and he had some bad blisters. He was very happy to have us to hike with and when we reached the end of the hike I gave him a ride to The Blue Dog Art Cafe in Buena Vista, a restaurant/hostel that caters to AT hikers. Hopefully we raised his spirits a little bit.
Here’s the photo of the day – and my weak attempt at humor. We stopped to have lunch at the point where we would cross the Blue Ridge Parkway, Punch Bowl Mountain Overlook. As anyone who has traveled the Blue Ridge Parkway knows, the overlooks provide fantastic views of the mountains and valleys of Virginia. They are simply beautiful and people come from all over to drive their cars or ride on motorcycles and bicycles to enjoy the scenery and the views. Well as you can see in the photo below, Punch Bowl Mountain Overlook is an exception. There is no overlook and no view…but we enjoyed our lunch anyway and I got a good chuckle.