Jim, Sue, Cody, and Tater at Springer Mtn., start of the Appalachian Trail Adventure Run


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Runtrails' 2005 AT Journal
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Start: VA 608/Lickskillet Hollow                            
End:  New River Bridge/Pearisburg
Today's Miles:                      29.7
Cumulative Miles:             622.2
"Put that in your book!"
-  Jim's favorite line lately, from "Dances with Wolves"

Large suspension foot bridge over Kimberling Creek

View from the bridge     6-6-05

Doc's Knob. Lickskillet Hollow. Dismal Creek.  Ribble Trail. Angel's Rest. Nobusiness Creek. Wapiti Shelter.

I swear I don't make up these names! I'm not that imaginative. These were just a few of the place names in today's section.

And Brushy Mountain, the first climb this morning? Would you believe there are nine Brushy Mountains in Virginia, and four Brush Mountains? Considering all the other creative names folks have come up with, you'd think they could find a different name for every mountain, couldn't they??

Dismal Creek probably got its name from the soil quality of the area, which is acidic. That's why so many azaleas, laurels, and rhododendrons grow there and on the ridges of this section. Today I saw pink azaleas blooming for the first time. Added to the gold and orange flame azaleas, light and dark purple rhodos, and light pink/white mountain laurels, the show was spectacular in several areas of this section.

This was also the second time recently that I've gone through areas with huge waist-high ferns. They're beautiful!


Wapiti Shelter is easy to understand when you consider that the Native American word for elk was "wapiti" or "white rump." Herds of these large deer were native to the Appalachians but were completely eliminated by hunters. Interestingly enough, I saw six white-tailed deer today (mostly in the Dismal Creek area), more than I've seen in all the previous thirty-seven days on the Trail, combined.

There were only two long climbs in this section, about 600 feet up Brushy Mountain at the start and 1,500 feet up Sugar Run Mountain at thirteen miles. The majority of the run was on rocky ridges, resulting in a slower pace today. It took me 10:30 hours to do almost thirty miles.


Seven miles were at lower elevations along Dismal Creek. I didn't mind crossing it about seven times because the Roanoke AT Club (our home club) has put wooden bridges over most of the creek and tributary crossings. What I did mind in this section was the stifling humidity and  the flies that wouldn't leave me alone. This was the first day it was really hot on the Trail and very humid to boot (90 degrees in the valleys, a bit cooler on top).

Despite the long climb, I was actually glad to get up to 3,500 to 3,770 feet for most of the second half of the run - at least there was a breeze on the ridges of Sugar Run and Pearis Mountains.

Angel's Rest is a rocky overlook near the end of the bluff above Pearisburg and Bluff City. There were nice views 2,000 feet down in the valley below. There was also a nice long descent that began steeply among large boulders and became more gradual as it came closer to the roads below.


Bridges dominated today's run - the little ones across Dismal Creek, the four-lane one over the New River at the end (which I'll cross tomorrow morning; today's run ended at the eastern end of the bridge), and the really cool suspension bridge featured above that was 5.3 miles into the run over Kimberling Creek.

This dramatic bridge was built by the US Forest Service in the early 1990s because of serious flooding by this creek, one of the main tributaries of the New River. It extends 150 feet between 34-foot tall pine towers set in concrete abutments. I loved walking across it, swinging slightly above the wide creek.

Jim and Cody tried it out, too! I encouraged Jim to go see it after he let me out at VA 608. The bridge is just off VA 606 where the AT crosses the road. He left me a love note at the far end of the bridge, which brightened my morning!


We got up at 4 AM this morning, left the house at 5, and I began running at 6:45. It took 1:40 hours to get to the trail head, and 1:30 hours to get home from Pearisburg. Jim drove home after letting me out, and came back to get me. He didn't want to waste all day in Pearisburg, but it was a lot of time driving.

Despite the relatively early start I had problems with the heat and humidity today. I was pretty lethargic after about six hours, and was rationing my water when I needed to be drinking more.

I got dehydrated near the end of the run today because I couldn't find reliable springs in the latter half of the section. I ran out of water an hour before Jim came in to me near the end with a 20-oz. bottle that I quickly drained. I was to the point of dizziness and more than my usual clumsiness. Soon after drinking the water, I was OK. I had enough calories all day, just not enough water. This is the first hot day since I started the adventure run, and it certainly won't be the last.

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody, and Tater

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2005 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil