Come on Virginia, give me a sign
I’m writing this while sitting in the living room of Highlighter’s condo at Wintergreen Ski Resort, with Swiss Miss (from Switzerland), Tippy Toes, and Eagle Eye. Highlighter and I hiked together for a while last year, and it’s been awesome to spend time with her the last few days! She’s trail-angeled the hell outta me and I’m eternally grateful.
My last update was from Daleville. Since then I’ve covered over a hundred miles and seen some iconic Appalachian Trail places. The most notable and emotional was McAfee Knob, which is where I ended my thru-hike attempt last year. I hiked up McAfee to join Wildcard, Not Even, Sunflower and DS, and a few other hikers for an epic sunset.
The following day, I arose to attempt my longest day in over a year, my longest day since my hike-ending injury last year. I hiked 16 miles into Daleville and it hurt and it sucked and it was awesome. Trail tip: if you’re attempting a long day, the key is to start early, stop long, hike late. I started hiking at 6:30am and put up my hammock for a two hour nap in the middle of the day. This helped my feet tremendously and boosted my spirits.
Leaving McAfee I was officially covering new ground. All miles from here on out are new miles. One of my hiking partners had some Dr. appointments and we ended up having a vehicle for a couple weeks. We used it to slackpack the mileage from Daleville to Buena Vista, which has been great! Because of the transportation we were able to help out a lot of other hikers and attend a bluegrass festival, while also covering decent miles and working on my trail legs. Trail tip: in the words of Ms. Janet, “it’s called thru-hiking, not thru-backpacking” so if you get the chance to slackpack, do it!
Kestrel, another class of 2015 hiker, hosted us for a couple days in Lynchburg to get us out of some crazy rainstorms. We really enjoyed snuggling with her dog and kitties and playing with her snakes.
After Buena Vista, my hiking group sorta fell apart. Two left the trail for a few days to go to the doctor and may or may not be back, and may or may not hike with me if they do come back. They are considering jumping up significantly to ease the pressure of getting to Katahdin on time. Another jumped up to hike southbound for a few days. Silly and Longspoon and I spent our last day together at Devil’s Backbone Brewery, which was awesome! Trail tip: this place offers free camping to hikers, and a $5 hiker only breakfast. In addition, they are putting showers in their bathhouse for next year, which will be open 24/7 for hikers. Go there!
Highlighter picked me up from DBB and I’ve been hanging out with her ever since, slackpacking the last few miles to Waynesboro. Tomorrow I’ll head out into Shenandoah National Park. I feel like this isn’t much of an update but honestly I’ve just been slackpacking and sleeping in free pavilions since my last update so there’s not much trail life to speak of. I’ll be back to backpacking starting tomorrow and can’t wait to see what SNP has to offer.
Quick and Dirty Stats:
- Total miles covered: about 250
Wildlife seen: one black bear, three large does, one garter snake, many fat squirrels
- Zero days taken: way too many… At least three or four since the last update.
- What I’ve been listening to: At the Water’s Edge, Animal Farm, and currently The Ethical Slut (audiobooks)
- Biggest day: 16 miles
- Gear changes made: switched to a foam pad from my underquilt and to Xero shoes instead of Chacos for camp shoes
- What I’ve been contemplating while hiking: mortality and sexuality, not at the same time usually
Oh, and Virginia really is the queen of signs. They are literally everywhere. So many cris-crossing trails and roads everywhere.
See you guys on the flip side of SNP!
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