Goodbye Virginia, It’s Been Real

Virginia and I have had a love/hate relationship. I just hit 1,025 miles on trail and over 550 miles of that has been in VA. I’m sure most of you have heard of the “Virginia blues”, but I told myself before stepping foot on the trail that I would not fall victim to it. Easier said than done..

Getting the Blues

While Paradise and I made a strong effort to mentally prepare for the blues, we were hit with them after only a few days of making it into the state. We were having a rough day and then missed a switchback on top of it, taking us almost a mile downhill off trail. We then had to backtrack uphill to where we had taken the wrong turn, then keep hiking uphill some more. The very next day, we got confused about a detour and ended up backtracking again and we were over it at this point.

Right before the multiple cases of getting turned around, I had learned that my grandmother had passed. Paradise and I made plans to get off trail at the end of the week to head to the funeral in NJ. We had gotten into a negative headspace that we just couldn’t seem to shake. After having a rough time, taking a few days off was actually really good for us (despite the reasoning). 

Curbing the Blues

Once we got off trail in late April, we felt very refreshed after a week of R&R. Our time away gave us a chance to really think about why we were on the trail and appreciate all the good. We got back on around mile 590 and it was like everything had bloomed overnight! This alone was a huge morale boost. When we left, the trees were still bare and the forest looked brown overall. Upon returning, we finally got a feel of the “green tunnel” and there were beautiful flowers popping up all over.

Red eft

In addition to the overnight blooming, we finally started to see all the animals we have been looking forward to. In VA I saw my first red eft, tortoise, snake, and more. We made a point to be grateful for at least one thing every day in order to not be overwhelmed by the extensive amount of time we would spend there.

The Virginia Triple Crown

Paradise and I at McAfee Knob

My favorite part about hiking the AT through Virginia was the “triple crown”. This consists of McAfee Knob, Dragon’s Tooth, and Tinker Cliffs. All of these sites are breathtaking and worth the visit. We hit Dragon’s Tooth first and it was a drizzly, cloudy day. I am clumsy and have terrible balance, so of course, it was a great idea to scale up this difficult climb. I don’t regret it for a second. Climbing this massive rock was a way for me to test out how far my body has come. McAffee Knob left me in awe. After a gloomy day at Dragon’s Tooth, I committed to a 3:45 am wake-up call to catch the knob at sunrise. Man, was it worth it. It was the most beautiful sunrise I have ever seen (and probably every will). I had previously heard a ton about the first two sites, but never much about Tinker Cliffs. I figured it was not going to be as amazing as the others, but it is highly underrated if you ask me. For about a mile, you can see amazing views and we were lucky to catch it in a good weather window. Ten out of ten would recommend this section (roughly mile 700-720 NoBo).


The Rollercoaster

With Virginia being Virginia, why wouldn’t it end with a rollercoaster? This section of the trail consists of steep ascents and descents that when viewed on an elevation map, lives up to its name. I was very nervous going into it but it was nothing we couldn’t handle. None of the ascents or descents were longer than a mile so even though it was steep, it was short-lived. It was basically just enough time to get tired in either direction before switching it up. Before realizing that the rollercoaster was nothing to fear, we decided to split it up into two days. The best part of this section is it holds the 1000 mile mark! 

I Have Walked 1,000 Miles

When I first started my thru-hike, hitting milestones was a huge motivator for me to keep pushing forward. Early on, we celebrated every 50 miles. Since hitting 500 we’ve saved the celebrations for every hundred miles. But 1,000 hit different. I have never felt more accomplished with myself. Being able to say I have walked from Georgia through Virginia sounds crazy. I can’t imagine how it must feel to make it all the way to Katahdin. 

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Comments 6

  • TaffyUK : Jun 10th

    Good to see you are still on the trail, I was wondering where you two had got to.

    • Nadia Fenay : Jun 10th

      Thanks! I started focusing so much on the daily mileage and realized it had been forever since I wrote a post!

      • Darlene Patterson : Jun 11th

        Yea!!! So glad you are still taking it “one step at a time.” I can feel, in your writing, you have transitioned into a “real thru hiker.” So thrilled for you. Keep up the good work. You have so many wonderful things yet to come. Way to go, Nadia!!!!!

        • Darlene Patterson : Jun 11th

          P.S……You should send the pic of you with the flowers, eyes closed, leaning on the tree to the ATC to use in some way. That is likely one of the most expressive trail images I have ever seen. So glad you have found your stride. I know you can make it to Katadin.

      • TaffyUK : Jun 12th

        No problem, enjoy the hike.

  • Jo Anne Reinhard : Jun 14th

    Congrats on making it through Virginia! Hadn’t seen any posts lately and hoped you were continuing your journey and simply enjoying it too much to post. My condolences to you and your family for the loss of your grandmother. Looking forward to the day I can get off the treadmill of life and hike the AT as you and Paradise are doing. Until then I enjoy reading your posts. Stay strong!!


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