Day 48: Virginia at Last

Start of the Morning 

Last night was an interesting one. At 3:30, I awoke and decided to look up. Along the trail, bouncing in time to someone’s feet, was a white light. I quickly checked the time and saw that it was in the middle of the night. The person flashed the light into the shelter before going down the blue blaze for some water. After a time, they passed the shelter again and was back out on trail. That’s night hiking to the extreme.

I fell back asleep and ended up waking again when I heard the unmistakable sound of rain droplets. It was 6:30 by that point, so I decided to get up. I grabbed my bear hang first before taking a number two. I did not want to poop in the pouring rain.

When I got back to the shelter, the rain came down quicker. It wasn’t a downpour, but I did want a rain jacket. I packed up and ate a quick breakfast. Fine Young Buck, who had tent camped, came up to the shelter and we headed out together. 

The Wind and Cold

It was dark, rainy, and foggy. The wind was blowing, which made my bare legs cold. I had to stop to put on a rain skirt just to keep them semi-warm. I was not into the weather at all. After putting on the skirt, I was alone. I had to listen to music. I didn’t want to be alone with my thoughts. 

I made it to the next shelter in short order. I had been hiking for slightly over two hours and had hiked six miles. Fine Young Buck was there making tea and Sweeper and Kea were just leaving. I didn’t need to stop, so I just went with them.

We didn’t do much talking, so I continued to listen to music. We hiked for two hours in silence. The pace was steady and we didn’t stop. By 12:00, I said that I needed to stop soon to eat lunch. I could feel my energy wane. Sweeper agreed and two minutes later, we were sitting down and eating lunch. Kea stopped too. I ate whatever random stuff I had in my pack and it was during lunch that the sun finally poked its head. The rain had stopped two hours previously, but was still cloudy. We all cheered and bathed in the warmth. 

The Afternoon 

We got up and continued on. We already had twelve miles under our belt and if we wanted to, we’d be in Damascus by 4:00. The only reason we weren’t going into town was because I couldn’t justify spending the money on a hostel. Over the past few days, I realized that I really want to go to Trail Days, so I need to shift finances to make that happen. I’m hoping Hilltop will be a vendor there. I want actual waterproof bags to put med kit, toiletry, and other items in. I’m constantly having to replace the ziploc bags.

I lagged behind the others. My high ankle sprain was really hurting. I just slowed down and distracted myself with listening to an episode of Backpacker Radio. I wasn’t paying attention to the map and came across the Tennessee/Virginia border. I stopped. It brought tears to my eyes.

I’m in Virginia! 

I honestly thought I’d never make it this far. I was alone and I wanted to celebrate with someone. So I called my dad. “Congratulations on 500 miles,” he said. “It’s not quite 500 yet. I’m just done with Tennessee. I have completed three states so far.” He couldn’t understand why this felt so momentous. I think only thru-hikers can. I called my mom too. “Congrats on 500!” “No, not 500.” Yep, only thru-hikers can relate.

Camping Outside Damascus 

The planned upon campsite was another mile away, so I hiked on. In short order, I came upon Sweeper. He and Kea already had their tents up and were going to get water. I picked a spot and set up my own tent. I did nearly 17 miles today. That was something to celebrate. It was easy too. The injury sucked, but I easily could have kept going to Damascus.

Fine Young Buck showed up twenty minutes after me. The guys sat around the campfire ring on logs and I layed down on my pad to bath in the sun. It was great. After a bit, we all crawled into our tents to enjoy our access to the internet. I ended up snacking on whatever I could. I have collected so many snacks from hiker boxes and trail magic alike. It needed to go.

At around 6:00, everyone got out to make dinner. I had the snacks, so I didn’t make any. I instead brushed my teeth and set off to find a good bear hang tree. And I did. It took forever to untangle the rope. It barely weighs anything, but it’s so thin that it catches on everything and tangles quickly. 

Afterwards, I called my sister. We talked for a while, but it started to get cold. I hung up and headed to my tent. It was time to read.

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Comments 3

  • Tricia : May 16th

    Virginia and almost 17 miles! Nicely done!

  • Kathi : May 17th

    Although I have never walked the trail I grew up in Damascus ( my beautiful hometown). I loved the stories the hikers would tell. I worked for awhile at the Star restaurant many years ago.

  • Nature Boy : May 20th

    Welcome to Virginia! I hope it doesn’t rain any more for the next few weeks while you’re making your through the Blue Ridge….


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