31 miles (50 km) – Total so far: 290 miles (467 km)
Fortunately, by 6:00 the threatened rain hadn’t come and so I started up the mountain. I confess stopping for breath no more than 500 feet from my starting place. I was deeply concerned about how tired I was already and was seriously considering taking a rest day before trying this climb. Overcoming my reluctance I set out again. To my delight, I realized that the switchbacks in Afton are much worse than the merely ridiculously steep sections of the blue ridge parkway. I decided to implement a strategy of stopping for pictures every few hundred feet and taking my sweet time to get up the mountain.
Having crested the first peak, on my next vertical section, I found a couple cool distractions. First, a mountain stream. Having had Giardia twice in my life already, and working under the assumption that the body builds up a tolerance to such things, I happily sipped away at this cool, pure stream. I should point out that both times I had Giardia was related to sanitation in cities in the developing world, and not related to drinking from mountain streams. I firmly believe that many of us equate nature with “germs”, “toxic” and “gross”, when in fact the exact opposite is true. I’ll continue drinking directly from mountain streams, thank you very much. Though… to be fair, only if I can identify they probably don’t go through a town or hiking trail first.
After the stream, I saw a sign for “Greenstone Trail.” Liking both the color green, stones, as well as reasonable combinations of the two, I decided to take a gander. Thanks to Mike Z for pointing out after my last post I should be stopping to smell the roses more often. Or in this case, taste the lichen.
Enough lollygagging. Onward and upward. And upward. And upward.
Bald mountain is the end of the serious climbing. There’s a little bit of up and down to get to highway 56 and turn towards Vesuvius. I had a fantastic time climbing this mountain. A total of about 4,000 up with 1,000 down from bottom to top.
I had promised myself that I would rest after cresting the mountain. Also, I’m trying to do *less* planning and see what comes along. Lo and Behold! Just 5 minutes into my descent I came across a lovely mountain B&B. A quick call to the innkeepers reveals that yes, they have room. Yes, they serve dinner and breakfast. Yes, they can make me a lunch basket. Since they were still away getting supplies they told me to go to a cabin and make myself at home until they showed up. I am now rested, showered, well-fed, mountain climbed, and happy. In about an hour I’ll be enjoying an almond crusted trout dinner. I suspect it will be better than the mac & cheese I had last night.