April 1 - Day 1 - April Fools Day - Friends Don and Lois Gerhardt drove me to Damascus, VA to start my hike. We departed Damascus around noon and they walked a couple miles on the trail with me to see me off. There was some uphill that day but it was a very pleasant first day. I spent the night at the Saunders Shelter in my tent and it was a pleasant upper forties night. Distance hiked - 9.3 mi.
April 2 - Day 2 - It was sunny when I started the day, but was drizzling and getting windy by the time I set up my tent along Hwy VA 601. I pitched my tent as close as possible to the trees but the wind was still very strong that night. It poured down in the early morning but the tent passed both the rain and wind test.
April 3 - Day 3 - I hiked 9.8 mi. to the Thomas Knob Shelter at 5,200 feet. It is near Mt. Rogers which is the highest mountain in Virginia at about 5,700feet. Last night was warm, but as the day progressed the thermometer dropped steadily. When I arrived at Thomas Knob at about 5 pm it was 35 deg. with high, gusty winds that I would estimate at least 40 mph. It also included blowing fog and mist. Called Lawrence and he said it was about 65 deg. in Raleigh that afternoon.
April 4 - Day 4 - When I awoke this morning it was 25 deg., wind howling and blowing fog. Trees and other vegetation were covered with hoarfrost. I don't know what the wind chill was but it was cold. I had plenty of warm clothing and was fairly comfortable. By afternoon the sun had come out and it was up to 60 deg. The afternoon hike was great although it was still windy. Visibility was almost unlimited. Saw some wild ponies in Grayson Highland Park. Females looked very pregnant, guess they will foul soon. Tent camped at the Old Ochard Shelter where John Johnston and I overnighted in Jan. as I was checking out my winter weather procedures. It was good training for the cold. Todays milage - 11.0
April 5 - Day 5 - Made it to Troutdale, VA at about 4:30 pm and picked up my "go forward box"
from Jerry at Jerry's Kitchen and Goods. Another hiker, Deuce, and myself are the only ones in the Baptist Hostel tonight. The temperature got up to 75 deg. today, but it was very pleasant hiking in the trees, which I did most of the day. I hiked 10.0 mi on the AT and 2.6 mi to town for a total of 12.6 mi. Tomorrow is a down day. Note:Troutdale has no cell phone reception and the rooster crows to to wake you in the morning.
April 6 - Day 6 - Started the morning with breakfast at Jerry's. Scrambled eggs, biscuit and gravy and OJ. Better than trail food. As the day progressed it got windier and cloudier and by the late afternoon it was spitting snow. By bed time I had decided that I was not leaving in the snow tomorrow. No no place to wash clothes in Troutdale so Jerry loaned me a 50 quart Rubbermaid plastic tub and I washed them in cold water in the room. It took 5 complete full rinses but the water finally ran clear. I also spent a good deal of time updating the blog and sending emails. Hiker Burns hobbled into town and spent the night at the hostel. He showed me how to download pictures from my camera to the internet.
April 7 - Day 7 - It snowed and blowed with some drifting last night. I would guess that it has accumulated about 1" on the grass. the roads are clear. Now it just above freezing with snow squalls. This morning a hiker came to the hostel. He spent the night out and hiked several miles this morning and was very cold. He had a friend pick him up to take him to a warm place. About 2 pm CaveMan came in with a ranger and will spend the night at the hostel. He hiked over 15 mi. and said up on the trail it was pretty rough. He said there were lots of drifts and water running under the snow on the trail. With weather as it is I doubt that I will hike tomorrow. If I do, maybe I will go 4 mi to the next shelter