Days 53 & 54

Day 53

We woke on the very dewy front lawn of The Captain’s. My tent fly and foot print were very wet so I had to shake them off before packing them up. After packing, I grabbed my breakfast and joined Tandem, Mio, and a couple of other hikers on the back patio. We treated ourselves to the free Big K sodas and agreed that the black cherry is the best. Mio and I each grabbed another black cherry soda for the trail.

We were the last three to leave and cross the river on the the zip line. I successfully crossed this time without falling in. The next three miles were up hill 1300 feet, with a break at Bailey Gap shelter for a snack. The rest of the morning, through 13:00, we slowly climbed another 270 feet to a view at Wind Rock at 4100 feet, where we stopped there for lunch. This was a boots and shirts off stop.

We dropped sharply 1650 feet to the War Spur shelter, having gone 11.5 miles for the day. During that downhill, I began realizing that my swollen left shin that started on Monday with the 2000 foot drop into Pearisburg wasn’t improving. In fact, it was swelling further each day. I found Tandem and Mio by the water source, which was a pretty creek.

I told Tandem that I felt that my shin required medical attention. We evaluated our options and decided that a clinic in Daleville was the best bet due to the size of the town and medical center options.Week_8_Day_54

None of us had cell coverage to call for a shuttle from VA 632, which was .8 miles down from the shelter. Mio had already left, so we loaded up, hoping that we would get cell coverage at the road. We didn’t.

We met Mio at the road, where he was writing us a note to wish us well and tell us how he had enjoyed hiking with us for the past two weeks. I used the back of the page to write a sign for someone to pick us up. After Mio left, we walked up 632 toward what we thought was VA 42, which looked like a busier road. However, we found a gate and no trespassing sign, so we went back to the AT.

We evaluated our options again and decided that if we climbed out of this gap we might get cell coverage. So we hiked on north 1200 feet up to Rocky Gap at VA 601. We did get cell coverage there and contacted shuttleman Del Schechterly in Daleville at 18:30.

Del told that he would pick us up in 90 minutes, since we were 60 miles and up a long gravel road from Daleville. We entertained ourselves by snacking and discussing what this delay did for our plans. It actually works out, since my son Christopher is being brought back from Villanova by my father in law and planned to meet us on Friday afternoon. Daleville is right on I-81, which makes it easy to get to us.

Del and his female companion arrived at 20:00, and we loaded into his two-wheel drive car. The ride back down gravel road VA 601 was interesting, and I was glad that it didn’t get dark before we got to pavement. It was another 90 minutes to the Howard Johnson’s in Daleville, and we enjoyed our conversations with Del.

We arrived and I paid him $100 for the shuttle. We checked in and moved into room 216, in what appeared to be the hiker block. I grabbed a six pack of Cokes for the fridge and a pint of Heavenly Hash ice cream from a gas station and enjoyed it before crashing.


Day 54

The first of two zero days in Daleville, VA. We woke up early in Ho Jo’s, and I showered before going down for one of the worst hotel continental breakfasts I have ever had. I had donuts, bagel, cereal, OJ, and a waffle. The eggs were overcooked in the pan over the Sterno.

Week_8_Day After breakfast, I walked down to the Velocity Clinic, which is about 1/4 mile from the hotel. I waited for an hour to be seen and twenty more minutes in the back room before the doctor saw me. The diagnosis was that there was nothing broken but that there was stress on the shin and possible infection. I was prescribed a few day’s rest, fewer miles daily, a week’s worth of antibiotics, and Aleve.

The plan is to continue resting the leg until Saturday morning when my fathe-in-law takes us back to Rocky Gap on his way home with Christopher.

Tandem and I met at the Three Li’l Pigs BBQ restaurant and had a big lunch and a pitcher of beer. We also got bowls of banana pudding with Nilla Wafers and banana slices for free for being through hikers.

Week_8_Day54_3The restaurant had a hiker logbook to sign, and each table had the Pass The Pigs game, which we had played at the Wapiti shelter on day 49. I sent Mio a picture of the game and told him that they sell them also.

We took our over full stomachs back to the hotel, and I crashed for a four hour nap. We ate leftover BBQ later and started organizing our packs. We are both sending home a few pounds of cold weather clothing and odds and ends with Christopher. We will also be backing up our trail pictures and videos to his laptop. The shin is still sore, but feeling better.


3 thoughts on “Days 53 & 54

  1. Glad to hear Jerry saw a doctor while in Daleville. Since he got and took antibiotics in Damascus, and either still has an infection in his leg, or has gotten a new infection, I hope this round of antibiotics clears everything up.

    He is putting a lot of stress on his body and I’m sure his diet of mostly empty calories with high sugar content is not helping his immune system.

    For the first time since he and Tandem started this hike, I am starting to doubt that Jerry will be able to finish.

    My advice, for what it’s worth. Get off the trail now for as long as it takes to clear up his infections, start eating healthier food, and then get back on the trail and hike fewer miles per day, and eat vegetables when ever possible. I believe he can afford the time off, and still make the northern terminus well before it closes for the season.

  2. As someone who has up until very recently been hiking reasonably frequently with Buzz and Tandem, I have declined to read any of his blog posts for fear of being mentioned. However, since being out of contact I hoped to find some update on his condition through his blog.

    While I was disappointed to find that you are still suffering, Buzz, I am wholly confident that you will finish this trail. Even if I hadn’t consistently seen you eat dried bananas and pineapples, rehydrated dinners with vegetables, protein powder, and nutrient enriched Carnation breakfasts, I wouldn’t ever doubt your capacity to hike the AT.

    Neither your diet nor your attitude has delayed your progress. There is no reason to internalize your setbacks. This is a mental trial on a supremely mental trail. Having had the privilege to be around you more than most people recently, I know from experience that you are a lot tougher than you might acknowledge.

    And remember – what doesn’t kill you… just slows you down!

  3. I have to apologize to Jerry. I had forgotten that there would be a lag between my admonition about blisters, miles and diet. By the time Jerry can read them, and reply, a few days have gone by and I have not revisited my original reply. Jerry seems to be confident that he is augmenting the pizzas and honey buns with more nutritious fare, so that’s good enough for me.

    I will however urge him to really monitor the blister and lower leg situation. So far his symptoms are almost the same as those that put me in the emergency room in Front Royal.

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