Monday, October 25, 2010

Closing Time (Damascus Library)

The Damascus library closes soon, so we'll treat Wood's Hole to Partnership and Partnership to Damascus later. Bummer! But...

We did see more plants and wildlife along the way (this one is for Jo's sister!)...

...and we did make it to Partnership Shelter, and order pizza (twice!)...

...and we did make it to the highlands and the balds...

...and see ponies!...

...and then at last here we are in Damascus which, although it got off to a slow start, has turned out to have all the essentials.

Wood's Hole Hostel (Map and Photos)

From Pearisburg, we got shuttled to Wood's Hole Hostel (owned by Neville and Michael — a couple); then we slack-packed north into Pearisburg again, resupplied, and got shuttled to the hostel again. We also zeroed before heading out on the trail. (Slack-packing is leaving most of one's belongings behind and day-hiking: for me, it meant a 22-pound pack, which felt like nothing.)

The main house at Wood's Hole, where Neville and Michal live, and where meals are held; it also has a few rooms for those who are not bunk-house oriented.

Mail drop excitement!

Although we had the grounds mostly to ourselves the day we zeroed, there were lots of other hikers — maybe ten guests each night.

The bunk house was, Neville told us, originally a play house built with scrap lumber from the main building.

On our slack-pack:

We watched a helicopter ferry bundles of something (scrap iron from dismantled electrical towers?) off the ridge while we snacked.

Angel's Rest had a good view of Pearisburg and the river through it.

Following a road into Pearisburg; I was surprised how much like their caricature Donkeys actually appear.

Nice arrangement.

Jo marked it as her dream house.

Meals at Wood's Hole are communal, including preparation and cleanup.

Neville mixes the salads.


Michael sits at the head of the table. That night was burritos; the night before was pizza. (Both delicious.)

Michael drove us up to the trailhead. (Amakua — spelling unknown, but meaning a memorial marker in some culture/language — came with. She wanted to play fetch, even in the back of a pickup truck.)

Daleville to Pearisburg (Photos)

Before leaving Daleville, we stopped by Goodwill for books.

Although we tried neither, we were dumbfounded that Daleville had two (warring?) barbecue restaurants: Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf. (We saw the former in person, too — they exist!)

Our hotel had square eggs: novel and bizarre.

The climb out of Daleville featured a great view of a reservoir as we went around it; and terrain that reminded me of New Mexico.

Pomegranates! (Jo packed out a few from town, having found them for the first time on the trip at that resupply.)

On a ridge, on the side below the rock slab at the crest.

A questionable advantage of being high up: you can see the rain coming. (In this case, it didn't do more than sprinkle on us.

Tinker Cliffs: we walked up in time for sun rise (also fleeing unpleasant shelter company).

A-Bear and Flora (who we ended up seeing a number of times) were checking their cell phones, and when I pointed my camera at them, they struck poses. (They also admired the sunrise-from-cliffs view.)

The trail follows the west ledge of Tinker Cliffs.

McAfee Knob! A-Bear packed in a whole pineapple (!!) — so we all had a bite of pineapple (still !!) at the top...

...before going on to the requisite photo shoot. (It was cold and windy, but luckily not rainy.)

R.A.T.C. maintained a significant section of trail, and caught our attention for odd apportionment of maintenance. There were bridges in places that seemed rather odd (see below; especially near roads), and more distal parts of the trail had the occasional missing southbound blaze, or terrain that could've used bridging (see the ridge trail on a slant, or Dragon's Tooth, below).

Through a valley.

Dragon's Tooth!

The trail up was, in some places, rather a climb. Here, a series of ledges to scrape along; and a few metal rungs along the way. (I thought it was pretty fun, and in some places rather an interesting challenge; with a few inches less leg, Jo was not amused.)

The tooth itself...

...and on top. (I met a local, on top, who took my picture and pointed out landmarks — always more fun to admire a great view when you know what you're seeing.)

A tiny green snake froze in the path as I came up — handy for a portrait.

My favorite of the many (many!) acorns on the path are the ones with a red tinge. (Most are plain ol' brown or green.)

There was a memorial for a war veteran (first name Audie and WWII, I think); the more interesting part for me was the rock stack people had built next to it.

Caterpillar! (In motion.)

Different environments.

Top of a ridge: watershed divider. (Surprisingly, not noted on our map.)

The path along the top of the ridge was, some of the way, just an angled sheet of rock...

...but it also afforded impressive views.

We opted to camp more or less right by the trail, rather than .3 miles down steeply off the ridge at the shelter. (It was, predictably, cold and windy.)

A few times we've seen mysterious rock piles in the forest — not at the edge of land that's obviously farmable (here, on the ridge).

Off the ridge: through fields. The sun was welcome.

Butterflies! (They came to check out our gear.)

Some of the impressive aspect of an overlook is its approach.

We were very excited to visit Dismal Creek — and tried to look appropriately dismal when passing over it.

Geology question: what makes the wavy patterns in occasional rocks? Petrified worm nests?

Apple Orchard mountain had (as well as eponymous apple trees) a nice view from its grassy top where we camped — here, in the morning.

Not a garter snake — or at least not the typical stripes. A baby something-else? (We didn't get bitten to find out if it was a young rattler.)