Hiking, Heat, and Hubris On The AT
Three weeks after flipping from Maine back to West Virginia, Chili pepper and I have arrived in the town of Pearisburg, VA. It was a weird adjustment at first, but we have now gotten used to our South bound travel. Even though we were leaving what is considered the most beautiful section of the AT, I was excited to head back to Harpers Ferry because I knew that the terrain was going to be incredibly easy compared to what the North had just put us through.
Now I have to admit, I might have been a little cocky. I assumed that everything would be a cake walk after completing Maine, that there was no longer anything in our way after completing the hardest state. Then Virginia served me a nice helping of humble pie. Scratch that, Virginia shoved the whole pie into my stupid face. You see, what I hadn’t taken into account was how hot it can still be in the South during early Fall. We went from a high of 70 degrees in Maine to 95 degrees and 95% humidity, which was rough because of the lack of time to acclimate. It was so rough that we couldn’t even get 15 miles out of Harpers Ferry before succumbing to the heat.
Flabbergasted and dehydrated, we crawled into the Blackburn AT center to lick our wounds. We hoped things would get better, but it was only the beginning. The next day we tackled the Roller Coaster, which I expected to be a joke after hiking Maine, but I barely made it out alive. I’ve never been so hot/sweated so hard in my life. I think the following image accurately reflects how drenched I was from sweat.
On top of this, the sweating caused me to chafe something serious. The friction in between my thighs caused the kind of heat that first introduced man to fire, which literally gave me first degree burns. I’ve used body glide everyday since then.
As with most things, the tough times finally came to an end. The heat broke (for a couple of days) as we entered the Shenandoah NP and we met up with a fellow flip flopper named Spider. We had been hiking with him since NY, but got split up after Katahdin because he started his hike further south than us. And more good news, water has no longer been an issue for us after the latest rain storm.
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