Hello From The Other Side (of Virginia)
Hello there old friends! We know it’s been a while since we’ve posted a blog update, and that’s been incredibly purposeful. We’ve experienced a wide variety of emotions, struggles, physical and emotional highs and lows, and moments of great triumph. The stage for this incredibly interpersonal journey: the state of Virginia.
Let me start this post by dispelling two myths.
1. Virginia is flat. If you’ve been involved in thru-hiking culture in any fashion you’ll hear that there is a mythical land just over the border from Tennessee that will welcome your tired legs and weary souls with flat hiking for 500 miles. You will long for this land when you climb out of the NOC, when you climb out of Fontana Dam, when you hit The Roan Highlands in a freak winter storm, etc. You will tell yourself, “if we can just make it to Virginia- we will be fine”. As if the trail designers would suddenly decide to seek out flat lowlands to put 1/4 of the entire trail.
If you’ve done any reading about the trail, you’ll see dozens and dozens of articles telling you that Virginia is indeed not flat! We met a fellow thru hiker named Gravy Train way back in March when we started who tried to warn us about the fabled “flatlands”, but we were too eager and foolish to listen. I challenge anyone to hike out of Glasgow to Waynesboro, VA and not find yourself questioning all of your life choices. (Also do the Roller Coaster, it’s like VA wants to kick you in the teeth before handing you over to the North).
2. The Virginia Blues aren’t real. False. I am willing to postulate that the Virginia Blues are completely real, but perhaps not for the reasons people tend to think. People often talk about how boring the state of Virginia is, that there are no views, and that you walk in a green tunnel for most of the state. While the green tunnel is real, there are plenty of highlights for the entire trail in Virginia. Ponies, Grayson Highlands (looks a lot like the Shire), Dragons Tooth, McAffee Knob, Damascus, and the list could go on.
I believe that the real reason behind the Virginia Blues has more to do with the time period Virginia happens to fall in. By the time you hit Virginia, most thru hikers will have crossed off three states and been on the trail for about a month (give or take). As we walked through Virginia, up and over its incessant ridges as we made our way Northeast slowly towards the Atlantic, we began to feel the stagnation of being in one state. We began to feel the monotony of hiking for going on two months. We began to long for stillness and stability. I propose that any thru hiker, northbound or southbound, will hit this wall called the “Virginia Blues”- no matter what state you’re in.
Honestly, Tolkien said it best.
“Every step was reluctant, and timed seemed to slow it’s pace, so that between the raising of the foot and setting of it down minutes of loathing passed”
We wanted to wait this long to post a message from the other side. There were definite days (often multiple days strung together) where we were both ready to quit and throw in the towel. Days we woke up to all of our belongings soaking wet because of the thunderstorms and flash floods the night before. Days when our feet hurt due to all the rock scrambling (and Maranda’s shoes falling apart). Days when we had to hike accidental 24 milers with wet shoes and packs. We took comfort in hearing other hikers complain, seeing other people struggling with the same issues and battling the desire to leave.
We are now north of Virginia and more excited than ever! We still have half of the trail to go, but feel confident and can build momentum knowing that we’ve crossed through the mental roadblock that is the 550 mile section of trail in Virginia.
We know that we will experience more trials and mini “Virginia Blues”, but are so excited for the continued journey that lays ahead.
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