We woke up on the last day around 6:45. Groggy and somewhat stiff from the prior two days hikes, we dragged out feet a little before leaving. We started out of Rice Field Shelter at 7:20 heading towards Pearisburg, VA about 6.5 miles away.
The night weather was prime for sleeping with a comfortable temperature and cool – not cold – breeze. As we started walking off of the saddle we noticed that cool weather had some consequences: with it came dew, which quickly soaked our shoes and shins in the knee-high grass. It came with the territory; as I’ve said before this section wasn’t comparable in the slightest to the well-kept grounds of Shenandoah National Park in terms of maintenance. I can’t complain, however, because the raw appearance of the trail gave me the feeling that I was really “out there” as opposed to being so close to civilization.
The day is mostly descending down towards Pearisburg, and immediately after exiting the saddle we start to drop in elevation. We are flying down Peter mountain not because we have the energy to do so, but rather because our legs don’t have the strength to offer enough resistance to slow us down! We continue running down the trail as Tommy periodically calls out the elevation after a quick glance at his watch. At one point Phil speeds past me and has to call out “ON YOUR LEFT” as if he’s on a bike and I’m merely plodding along. We have a good laugh at the bottom, but only after we look back at where we came to verify what just happened with our own eyes.
After descending from 3200 feet to 1750 feet in two miles we decide to take a rest. We come to a road crossing with a patch of smooth concrete and lay ourselves out. We talk about what food we want after the trip, and Scott helps himself to some nearby honeysuckle. I look up at the mountain range in disbelief – the mountain ridge from which we’d came literally towers over us. I leave a sweat angel on the concrete as we get up to go.
We cross over the New River as we enter the outskirts of Pearisburg. It’s a bigger bridge than we’d thought! We cross to the other side and soon head into a residential neighborhood. Tommy and Phil depart without their packs to go get the car about a half mile away while the rest of us sit on a street corner. After about ten minutes we get picked up and head to Dairy Queen, where we all get something decadent as a reward for our toil.
We part ways after grabbing lunch at the Waffle House in Christiansburg, as is our custom after every Memorial Day hike. I’m full in both body and mind after the trip, but soon I’ll be antsy for another. I always get that inkling to be in the woods after such memorable experiences.