Day 39: Docs Knob Shelter to Pearisburg, 9.3 miles
Day 40: Pearisburg to Bailey’s Gap Shelter, 23.3 miles
Day 41: Bailey Gap Shelter to Laurel Creek Shelter, 14.6 miles
Our hike into Pearisburg from the shelter was a pretty one, with plenty of views from rocky outcroppings into the bucolic valleys below. As we started descending from the mountains, the understory started filling in, and soon we were in a lush forest. While the leaves haven’t come out at higher elevations, down low spring has sprung! It was a quick walk into town, made even shorter by a quick ride someone offered us to get us the last half mile over the hill leading into Pearisburg. We checked into the Plaza Motel, and were able to get into our room immediately. We decided Mexican food sounded better than immediately showering, so we walked across the street for an early lunch. The rest of the day was spent doing typical town errands such as laundry and resupply, and we finished off the day with a game of pool in the bar of the Mexican restaurant.
We had an early start out of town, and started climbing uphill as most days out of town go. With fresh legs the morning went quickly, and we had lunch at the top in Rice Field Shelter. Our hiker friend Chef Boy RD arrived as we were packing-up, and we spent the rest of the day passing each other along the trail. We also ran into a day hiked with the trailname Homework, who recognized Garrett from the last time Garrett hiked the trail; it’s a small world on the AT. We stopped for dinner at some cascades, and I made my Mountain House spaghetti with meat sauce. Mountain House are premium dehydrated meals that retail for around $10, and they don’t sell them in grocery stores. As a result, they can be hard to find and expensive; but I found this one in a hiker box (a box for hikers to discard unwanted but still useful items that most hiker friendly establishents have) so it was easy to find and free! Plus, I’ve been craving pasta and meat sauce for a week, and it did not dissapoint. I even had parmesan cheese to top it with! We hiked six miles after dinner, and made it to Bailey’s Gap Shelter just before dark. We were the only ones there, so we could spread out, and listened to a podcast before we fell asleep.
I had high hopes for the next day, but the temperatures reached nearly 90 degrees and it was so, so hot. Despite my best efforts, I could not rally against the heat, especially with all the climbs that day, and we decided to stop just short of 15 miles at Laurel Creek Shelter with its delightfully cold stream babbling nearby. Chef Boy RD showed up a few hours later and exclaimed he hadn’t been able to walk over two miles/hour either, and decided to stay the night there, too. The mountain laurels had just started to bloom, making the shelter a particularly nice spot to stop for the day.