Starting with 540.1 miles, 85,600 ft. ascent
Whickers Grocery to Stokesdale Christian Disciples of Christ
14.3 miles, 1,000 ft. ascent
The end of the golden weather. The morning is 38 degree,
seasonally cold, with a chance of rain. Gabriel shows up at 7:20 and we’re on
I start out at Whickers Grocers and talk to Jamie, Kala’s older
sister. Kala had said that she might walk with me, today.
“Kala is a night owl,” Jamie says. “She sleeps all
I didn’t really expect Kala to walk with me so I start out
I’m walking so fast that I have time to stop for coffee at Hardees’s in
I buy a cup but the lid just doesn’t fit right. I try to walk and
drink but coffee drips on my gloves and down my pants. These are cheap lids –
there is a reason for Starbucks, but I don’t think I’ll see one until I get
back to Asheville.
Walnut Cove is spread out, with many old, poorly maintained,
or empty buildings. The gray weather has a lot to do with it but Walnut Cove is
not an attractive town. The only effort they seemed to have made is Fowler
Park, the small park in front of the library.
The ABC liquor store is next to the park. It’s 9:30 in the morning
and there seems to be quite a bit of traffic in and out of the store. Armed with that
knowledge, I stick a piece of chocolate in my mouth; another example of
inappropriate consumption, so early in the morning.
The trail continues through town, passing many closed
stores. Old does not equate to historic. Then the trail turns left on NC 65
toward Stokesdale. I’ve left the town and I’m walking through undeveloped land,
punctuated by single family homes. It gets me thinking about what people are
doing with their land.
I had woken up this morning with a pain in my right wrist. That’s
the wrist I broke last summer but it’s strange that I’m feeling it now. Then I
realize the cause. I’ve been waving to almost every vehicle that comes by.
Vigorous waves that say “See I’m here. I’m not in trouble;
I’m not looking for a hitch; I’m walking for pleasure but please, know that I’m
I make sure to wave extra energetically to patrol cars. I do wish they
would stop so I could let them know about the MST but no officer does. To
indicate that they should stop would be “wasting policeman’s time”, a very
British expression that I’ve never heard here in the U.S. But I
keep waving. And if I have to put my hand in a wrist splint after this trip, it
will have been worth it.
This stretch is empty – few gas stations, stores, or
restaurants. Only a couple of churches. When NC 65 turns left and I turn with
it, it crosses Belews Lake (see the top picture) and passes Piney Bluff Access Area, an access point
for boats, owned by Duke Energy. There’s a parking area and boat ramp – no
picnic tables or port-o-Johns. But I eat lunch here, the only public place I’m
going to pass.
I’m starting to feel my legs.
Walking on the road uses
different muscles from walking on trails. My cardiovascular system doesn’t get
much of a work out and probably neither do my quads. It’s just too flat around
here. But my calves and ankles do a lot of work. I don’t really walk on the
road; I’m in the grass on the side of the road most of the times, sometimes in
a ditch. I run across the road depending on which side has more space or how
the road bends. So I can feel these muscles.
I reach my car at 2 P.M. I could have done a couple of more miles
but the point is not to see how many miles I can do on any particular day but to walk
day after day.
I’ve parked in front of the Stokesdale Christian Church,
Disciples of Christ, a majestic church with a beautiful steeple. I find the
custodian and tell her that I’ve parked here and I thank her.
“Oh, it’s all
right,” she says.
“I want to leave something in the collection plate,” I tell
her. “And could I see the sanctuary?”
Collection plate, sanctuary – Those may not
be the words she would use in this church but she takes me upstairs.
is all wood with a picture of the baptismal waters. It’s beautiful.
She turns on the lights so
I can take pictures in the best circumstances. It’s worth the five dollars I
drop in the plate, “for orphans,” she says.
Hey, I’d pay a lot more to see
Notre Dame and I couldn’t park there.
Cumulative after Day 47, 554.4 miles, 86,600 ft. ascent