Day 3/ Mar 1st – Walkers/ Lanexa, VA to Quinton, VA: Trials and tribulations

 

After yesterday’s meandering trails through the backwoods, we spent almost all of today walking north-west along US Route 60 or, as it’s called along this stretch, the Pocahontas Trail.  The name conjures up images of a winding woodland path, populated by pirouetting songbirds and butterflies and passing by occasional clusters of tepees inhabited by friendly Indians*.  In reality, it’s a charmless ribbon of asphalt serving those Virginians too frightened or too local to use Interstate 64, which shadows it to the north.  We’re formulating a theory that the charm of a road is in inverse proportion to the allure of its name – Audubon Road, for example, far from being a haven for American bird-life, turned out to be a service road that ran behind a waste-water station and an envelope factory.

The Pocahontas Trail

The Pocahontas Trail: Not as nice as it sounds

Highway days like this one make for pretty joyless walking, on a narrow verge alongside a dual carriageway with large vehicles passing by very close at very high speeds.  A railway runs beside the Trail for much of its length, and when on occasion one is sandwiched between a thundering locomotive on one side and an articulated lorry on the other, it’s difficult to feel especially close to nature.

Walking alongside the highway has also given us an opportunity to brush up our knowledge of American roadkill.  This is far superior to the usual British offerings of squirrels and the occasional rabbit; we’ve seen several deer, a pair of skunks, a raccoon and a creature that in life was either a beaver or a possum, but in death had become a smeared hybrid of both.  These are not the only roadside charms – the keen-eyed verge-comber may from time to spot soft-drink bottles half-filled with a transparent amber liquid that betray the passage of drivers who absolutely couldn’t stop for any reason at all.

Dead deer

One of many dead deer on the Pocahontas Trail

The highway is hemmed in closely with forests of pine and ash, so there was little to see but the road ahead, and few shops or buildings of any kind.  In dire need of some chocolate and water, our hopes were raised by the sight of a general store ahead, only to be dashed by the sign outside which read ‘Phoncard – Bait – Tobacco (sic)’ and which proved to be an accurate reflection of its inventory.

And, of course, after fifty miles in three days, our feet and legs are beginning to feel the effects of the walk.  We each have a small collection of blisters and strains, and today we passed the evening familiarising ourselves with a device called a ‘microlance’, which when correctly employed can cause a satisfying spurt of liquid from deep within a chosen blister.  We watched the season finale of The Bachelor at the same time and felt our fingers firmly on the pulse of contemporary America.

*Apparently, native American leaders, at least in Virginia, have recently indicated that they would most prefer to be referred to as ‘Indians’.  Who knew?

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