I passed that marker yesterday. Now I’m ‘that guy,’ so to speak–I’m someone I would have wondered at just 3 months ago. For 1000 is a large, unfamiliar number when it comes to foot miles–it’s almost inconceivable that someone could actually walk that, and someone who has might seem like their on some different plane. But here I am, 1000 miles later, on the same plane as I was. Quicker with my hands, wiser, certainly stronger–but the same person, the same regular old person. This steady accumulation of miles is what does the trick–mere persistence and time allow for this number that seems so heroic.

The Shenandoahs were a blast. There were bears popping out from behind every tree (I saw no fewer than 16 while I was there), not to mention the deer. I was constantly gazing into the woods in the hopes of spotting a furry shape that stood out from the greenery, and was quite often satisfied. Then there were also the perpetual opportunities for real food and civilized amenities, at the stores and Waysides catering to car tourists. I ate ice cream every day, I think. Once, I stopped by a large campground, skirting the enormous tents with smoking grills and whole families chatting around them, and entered the indoor-plumbing restroom. I felt for the first time the true luxury of washing my hands with potent soap under gushing water. The sticky, gritty rough patches on my palms and knuckles–accumulated filth and grime–just gave way to the smooth skin beneath at the soap’s touch. The newly freed pores breathed in the rushing water. I used to do this every day, I thought–multiple times a day. I can do this every day when I’m done. Suddenly that seemed reason enough to return to normal society then and there. Then I left the campground and saw three bears. I took no pictures, only watched and wondered.

The terrain is flattening out. I am speeding up. Onwards to Harper’s Ferry!

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