Miles Today: 15.6
Mile Marker: 634.7 Just Outside of Pearisburg
This morning I woke up unsure of where to hike. I ordered new trekking pole tips from Amazon, but it looked like they wouldn't be in Pearisburg until tomorrow. For perspective my trekking poles have become an extension of my body. They are a part of my cadence, and I generally hike slower without them. They help pull myself uphill and help brace myself on the downhill. It is to the point where I was hiking with them tucked under my arm while checking my guide in a flat spot and tripped, but instead of bracing with my hands I flipped my poles forward and caught myself. I use them like four foot chopsticks to pick up small limbs and throw them off trail. I use them to probe the ground and test for insects and animals around where I am going to sit or camp. I take one with me every time I go to collect water. I legitimately struggle when walking into town and I put them away. (They can scuff up the sidewalk, and it is poor form to use them off trail.) They are important.
Four or five days ago the carbide tips wore off, and I was left with plastic nubs. The carbide tips are what give purchase on rocks and other slippery terrain. Without them they are worthless. I ordered new ones in Bland, but my timing was off. I started to debate getting into town and working out slackpack options to stay on schedule. Around 12:00 I took my phone out of airplane mode to check for signal and call hostels. Immediately a message came through my package was delivered! I checked the guide and saw I had eight miles to cover before the post office closed at 4:30. I finally had direction for the day and got there at 3:30 and got my package. In order to remove the old ones you have to bash them off with a crescent wrench. I popped over to the Exxon service station and asked if I could borrow one of theirs. The guy working on a truck out front was super cool and took me into the shop and gave me one to use. All is right with the world again.
Next stop was the Mexican food place for a jumbo burrito, a carnitas taco, and a Margarita on the rocks. Best Mexican food place so far. Good salsa too. While I was eating Liam and George, aka Cotton and Fubar, walked in. We had lunch together, hung out chatting, and then played a few rounds of pool. Next thing I know it's 8:00 and I still haven't resupplied. I headed over to the Food Lion and grabbed my supplies and headed back to the woods. I ended up having to hike with my headlamp a while until I found a decent spot to camp. It was a bit of a downhill slope, but it worked out. Turned into a pretty solid day.