Today I hiked from my campsite near Dismal Falls to a campsite on an abandoned forest service road that’s been converted to a portion of the Ribble Trail. The distance is 11.7 miles. I had planned to stop sooner, but when I reached the spot where the campsite I’d had planned on was listed, I couldn’t find the spot, so I hiked a little later than I’d normally prefer, stopping around 8:30 tonight. I had dinner in the dark, but it was still pretty manageable.
I’m about twelve miles from Pearisburg now, so tomorrow I’ll cross the rest of the ridge, I’ll stop at a spring near Pearis Cliffs, then go the rest of the way, only a few miles, into town the following morning. Water is going to be more and more of a concern for a while. Today was probably the easiest day I’ve had finding water in a while, spending most of the time in a valley criss crossed by Dismal Creek, but I still noticed several marked water beds that were dried up. Along the ridge most of the way there’s no water marked, I loaded up with as much water as I could before climbing out of the the valley and I’ll stop at one spring midway during the day. As I understand it, further north I may go the entire day without water, and given my slower than average pace, that may be even longer. The water situation isn’t helped by the fact that my collapsible water bag has sprung several leaks. This is basically a sturdy plastic bag I fill with water from springs or streams then attach my filter to squeeze the water through, purifying it and allowing me to drink the natural water without fear of the natural water borne diseases. With the bag leaking, I can’t reliably use it to carry extra water, and when I’m squeezing the water out through the filter, half of it leaks out onto the ground, which makes gathering water take almost twice as long. This is always a frustrating problem, it’s a piece of gear I’ve had a good bit of trouble with, I think this will be the fourth time I’ve had to replace one of these water bags since I started.
Mosquitoes have also been an increasing amount of trouble. Not too long ago I had been considering leaving behind my bug spray since I wasn’t using it, now if I forget even once to put it on, I’ll be eaten alive by them. My arms and legs are covered with scars from where I’ve scratched too much at the itching. The worst is when they bite my hands right in the finger nuckle leaving an itch I can’t satisfactorily scratch. The spray I’m using now is 40% Deet and I’m considering buying something stronger in town.
I had a nice scare tonight, while hiking in the evening at dusk I kept hearing sounds in the woods to my left. Rustling in the leaves on the ground or a breaking branch. I became convinced after a while a that something was following me, running parallel in the woods as I hiked. Finally, I stopped at one point to catch my breath and I turned to see out of the corner of my eyes a large black shape coming up behind me. I screamed and turned around only to see it was another hiker wearing a large black face net. I never did figure out what it was that was out in the trees.
My Bible reading today has me in the book of Job, which I tend to dislike. Because of the structure of the book, which is written as a play, there are several sections, entire chapters, that are written for you to specifically understand as incorrect in light of the end of the book. This makes it tedious and sometimes frustrating to read through, but after this I’ll come to the Psalms which I really enjoy. This is part of my audio Bible reading, I’ll read ten chapters a day physically from the Prof Horner’s reading plan, which includes selections from the entire Bible each day, but I also go through an audio Bible plan based on the Bible in 90 days program from Zondervan publishing, which consists of an hour listening each day. Between these two plans, I’ll have gone through the entire Bible about three times in the course of my hike, with several sections receiving more (the gospels will be read five or six times each) I am hopeful that this will produce some good fruit in preparation for what I’ll be doing next.