A short day today so we languished in our sleeping bags for an hour or so in a light stupor, which was a treat, firstly as our legs are very sore from the sadistic grades of Appalachia and secondly as it was cool enough to actually be in a sleeping bag. We have worked our way up to around 2000 feet over the past days, although each foot of that will doubtless have been climbed over and over again as the terrain rolls up into the clouds that hang low over the valleys and then back down to the river beds.
We mooched around for an hour at the library in the tiny town of Haysi, on the internet partly in an attempt to plan our trip from Yorktown to Washington DC, and partly to give our poor little legs a break. People say this is the hardest part of the trip, and I do believe it. We are quite well conditioned by now, but those people who have to start with these hills probably have a very nasty shock to the system!
I don't know if it takes a different type of person to be a Pastor out here, but the church signs we have been seeing are absolutely genius. Some of these people could get jobs at the Sun if they didn't already have jobs with the Son. Maybe there is some big almanac of pithy puns guaranteed to swell your flock or money back. Who knows, but feast your eyes on this lot:
- Help wanted – apply Sunday morning
- Son exposure can prevent burning
- Forecast: God reigns, Son shines
- Beat the heat, our church is prayer conditioned
- Free trips to heaven – enquire within
The only British sign like this I can recall is the drily brilliant
- Trespassers will be forgiven. By order of God.
As we got to the end of the day the landscape started to open up a little showing us some wide open vistas that are more reminiscent of the plantations of Virginia than the sleepy hollows of backwoods people.
Tonight we are staying in another church with an unlocked door and a sign saying please stay and help yourself to what you need. The guestbook we checked had all the familiar names of people who we have run across over the trip - Matt Brady, Alena, Leo, Sergey, Rob and Dan – we travel in your footsteps.
Tomorrow we're taking on Hayter's Gap and a couple of other big hills, but the end is in sight which fills us with mixed feelings of the elation of finishing (hopefully) and the sadness it will soon be all over.