Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Day One Hundred-twenty-five, 090703 - BRP#10 Steeles Tavern

Day One Hundred Twenty-five, Date Friday, July 3, 2009
Time in Saddle: 7:57
Distance for the Day: 54.64 miles From BRP SC#9 To BRP SC#10-Steeles Tavern
Accumulated Trip Distance: 6000.18
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 3512’/3276’, Highest: 3524’ Accumulated: 5118’
Speeds: Avg: 6.8 mph, Max: 39.9 mph
Weather: 56° cool, clear and windy, warming to the high 70s
Expenditures: $8

Got up at 6am, and was broke down, packed away, and ready to roll by 6:37am. The wind was still blowing pretty hard, so I again put on my jacket and rain jacket to stay warm until I warmed up from cycling. I was right near MM 73, but figured, based on past history, to get to the end of the BRP I’d have to go 73 miles in one day. Since I haven’t been able to do more than 60 miles in any day on the Parkway, it seemed very unlikely I’d make it to the end, today. Since tomorrow was Saturday, AND the 4th of July, I would be sure to call the Rockfish Gap Outfitters store to find out if they were planning to be open on Saturday, and if they weren’t, I’d ask them to put my packages in some place hidden where I could still get to them. (I had Renee B send me one of my prepared packs of fragrance-free shampoo and anti-bacterial liquid camp soap, and I ordered two bottles of Avon’s “Skin So Soft,” and had it delivered to the RGO store). I found a more wind-protected place to eat breakfast at about 7am, after coming down from the highest point on the Virginia side of the BRP (3950’ ASL). Near the end of one of the descents, my right hand brake cable became loose. Fortunately, I wasn’t going down a very steep place on the road, so was able to slow and stop using the left-hand brake. All I had to do was re-mount the cable holder sleeve and hardware back into position, and it worked properly, again. It must have gotten loose somehow from vibrations from the road, or perhaps when I was moving it over very uneven terrain at a stealth camp location. At any rate, it seemed to be fine, now, so I continued on at 7:11am. I had quite the descent, dropping from over 3500’ to 698’ in thirteen minutes, and traveling about 10.5 miles! That was fun (sure glad I wasn’t going the other way). I was now at MM 64, and left the BRP for a stop-off at Big Island for a light breakfast, liquids and fruit ($8). Getting back on the BRP, I then had a real breakfast at the Otter Creek restaurant of eggs, biscuits, hash browns, and water ($10). I continued on at 9:57am, and noticed the terrain was a bit flatter, so I was able to make better forward progress. However, not too surprisingly, the road got steep again while approaching Whetstone Ridge, and by 5:45pm, I was back up to 3138’ ASL (oh, by the way, ASL means Above Sea Level, if I haven’t mentioned that before). I called the good folks at Rockfish Gap Outfitters to verify that I would not be able to make it to them before they closed for the weekend, and that they were putting my mail packs someplace I could get to them. I met a nice couple at one of the overlooks – Gary and Patricia L, who I chatted with for a bit. Gary offered to overnight me at his home to the southeast of Charlottesville, but unfortunately, I was heading northeast, so wouldn’t pass his neighborhood. Thanks for the offer, though, Gary!
I found a suitable stealth camp on Whetstone Ridge, near the town of Steeles Tavern (N37 54.904’ W79 4.342’) at around MM 24. It was a spot up a few hundred yards off the BRP up a dirt road that went into the George Washington National Forest. There were a couple of good trees off the side of the dirt road, so that’s where I hung my hammock. A truck came by, so I verified with the driver that nobody would mind my spending the night, there. He said nobody would mind, but to beware of bears (ulp!) I decided not to open up my smelly meat and cheese sticks, and to just munch on M&Ms. I read my book until it got dark, and got to sleep around 9pm. The temperature was cool enough that I should have used my air mattress in the hammock but got lazy and didn’t do it. That was a bit of a mistake, as I got slightly cold during the night, and wasn’t as comfortable as I could have been, demitol. Also, I had to use my ear plugs due to the noisy wind in the trees. I decided to not continue northeast along the Shenandoah Skyline route, as I heard that it was as bad if not worse than the Blue Ridge Parkway in terms of hilly terrain. I wanted to start making better times and distances, and to give my poor knees a rest.

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