Coco and Magnus — Days 60 through 65 — Zip Line, Sunrise, and a Bath

Friends! Magnus and I are a mere two miles shy of the 1/3 mark of the Appalachian Trail.


I would like to mention that of the three companies we have had to contact about gear issues in the past two months, one stands out as being so helpful and wonderful: MSR. We have the Hubba Hubba NX tent and it is fantastic. One issue, one phone call, one solution. Brilliant. Thank you, MSR!

My feet hurt a lot. I’ll try not to talk about it too much.

One of my trail family members possibly has norovirus and this is very scary and sad. Send good vibes to our man as he heals.

Magnus and I will be at Trail Days in Damascus! Please try and find us and say hi if you’re around.

On to the updates!

5/6 Wednesday – Day 60

Fresh from a zero day in Pearisburg, VA, the trail family and I hiked over twenty miles to get to the Captain’s. You had me at “enter via zip line.”

The AT is not always beautiful, nor does it always appear like a scenic nature trail. For the first several miles out of Pearisburg, we hiked along a highway, beside a factory, under an overpass, and adjacent to a landfill.

Also, we saw what must be the worst privy on the trail. So un-private that it should be called a “publy.” (Magnus and Translator both deserve credit for that.) A toilet upon a platform without any walls and nearly on top of the trail.


Just beyond this unfortunate privy, however, was a small meadow that overlooked a valley. A stretch of several miles after that was lined with trees with fragrant white flowers. The petals would fall and create a light, white carpet on the trail.

Soon after, Magnus and I were about to summit a mountain when a thunderstorm began. It was like this:

Magnus: Looks really bad. Think we should put on our pack covers?
Coco: Nah, it’ll be fine.
*Flash of lightning*
*Immediate and extremely loud thunder*
Coco: Huh.
*Downpour for the next hour*
*Magnus & Coco furiously put on pack covers and rain jackets*

It poured and was loud and scary since we were on top of a mountain. We proceeded as quickly as we could to travel to lower elevation. I learned later that afternoon that my sleeping bag stuff sack is not actually waterproof. And that is the story of how my sleeping bag got soaked.

When the rain let up, the sun came up and everything was clear, vibrant, and humid. We made it to the Captain’s (a man who’s opened his home’s yard to thru-hikers for camping at no cost) and made our arrival by zip line. Someone had made a comment on one of my Instagram pics the day before saying “He has drinks!” Though I knew this would mean a cooler full of soda cans, I was still hoping the Captain would be a distinguished Virginia gentleman in a pale linen suit who’d come off of the veranda with a silver platter of mint juleps. It was a cooler of soda cans — which was awesome.

Lesson I learned: I can survive a night after a thunderstorm with a wet down sleeping bag. My sleeping bag stuff sack is not waterproof.


5/7 Thursday – Day 61

I was told by Sisu (ridge runner and Appalachian Trials blogger) that on the AT there are good days, hard days, and bad days. This was a hard day. Climb after ever-loving climb. Sweat profusely. Swear profusely. Repeat.

About halfway up the last climb I started experiencing a lot of pain on the back of my right heel. Flashback to the night before and the lesson I learned…

Lesson I learned: The searing pain you feel may be related to the large piece of skin that peeled off your heel the day before after a thunderstorm and your now-too-small boots.


5/8 Friday – Day 62
We saw the second largest tree on the AT!

For a while, the trail was nothing but very slanted, smooth slabs of stone. I nearly broke my ankle after a slip on one but my drunk man stumble saved me. “I’m okay!”

Lesson I learned: Sometimes a 12-mile day turns into a 17.5-mile day just cause.


5/9 Saturday – Day 63

Remember that thunderstorm? Everything was still a little damp, so Magnus and I spent about an hour allowing our sleeping bags (his also was a bit damp) dry in the warm, sunny breeze.

This day was long and full of lengthy, relaxing breaks, and it was great. We walked off trail to go to a convenience store and it was fantastic. Within the half hour we were there, we collectively consumed 2,500 calories. Good job, us!

Dragon’s Tooth was beautiful and the hike down was treacherous. Lots of sliding down on butts and careful foot placement to avoid sliding off a cliff. We made it! A helpful sign was placed after this descent to inform us of its difficulty ans danger. Thanks for the advance warning.

Lesson I learned: Hiking your own hike may involve lots of breaks. My hike does.


5/10 Sunday – Day 64
With the intention of seeing McAfee’s Knob at sunrise, Magnus and I were up at 5 and out of oir campsite before 6am. The race against the sun was on! It was close, but we did see the brief ten minutes of the sunrise that was not obscured by fog. It was incredible! Then the fog rolled in and we didn’t see the sun for hours.

Since we were up so early, we all (Magnus, our trail family, and I) all decided to hike all the way into Daleville. Why not? I’ll tell you why not. Going into town gives you an energy boost that allows you to hike at astonishing speeds. Apparently, this only works for relatively short distances. Eighteen miles after poor sleep and waking up at 5am? No. Just because you want the miles to go more quickly does not make it so. It. Dragged. Coffee was only marginally helpful.

Once I finally accepted that I would not fly and arrive hours earlier than was realistic, I was able to enjoy the hike again. There were so many wildflowers and flowering trees.

We entered Daleville. Divide and conquer. Magnus secured a motel room. I bought beer and ice cream treats. We reconvened. We each downed a beer. I called my mom (Mother’s Day!) while on beer number two and was able to catch my sister (Mother’s Day!), my dad (made Mother’s Day possible! ), and my Aunt (Mother’s Day!) in the same call. Mother’s Day phone call success.

Then there was a lot of eating and watching of cable.

Lesson I learned: Do not attempt an 18-mile hike when hiking into town and expect the hike to last only five hours. It will take nine. Get over it.


5/11 Monday – Day 65

Zero day! So many errands.

My hiking boots, which I love, are no longer loving my feet now that the weather has warmed. The waterproofing was exceptionally helpful in the cold and snowy slush, but now I’m sweating so much that my feet can’t dry. And my feet are spreading. My toes and heels are arguing with my boots and these kids need to be separated or I’m turning this car right around.

I’m on the search for trail runners that can accommodate my wide ball-of-foot-to-pinkie-toe area and my very slender ankles/heels. I tried on at least seven pairs of shoes today (and appreciated the patience of the outfitter) but nothing was a clear winner. Any ideas? Brands that work well for triangle feet? I’d love to hear your suggestions!

Lesson I learned: Epsom salt baths are even more therapeutic with a beer.


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Comments 6

  • Tony Pantera : May 12th

    I have had a problem with my heal in the past as well. What i found helps is bringing down the friction level. What works for me is womans nylon worn under a thinner sock work to drop that rubbing.

    • thecountesscoco : May 21st

      Thanks, Tony!

  • Jeanne Church : May 17th

    Great pictures!!

    • thecountesscoco : May 21st

      Thanks! 🙂

  • Elizabeth Dossman : May 21st

    Hi Team–Looks like a lot of fun. I am your tenant in Austin. We would really like to get Google Fiber as the last sign up date is June 4. Apparently it has to be done by ya’ll. I know this is a long shot, but I had to make an effort because TWC is horrible!

    Stay safe!

    • thecountesscoco : May 21st

      Oh my gosh! Haha Yes — we want it, too! I’ll see what I can do from out here. Thanks for letting me know!


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