It’s Not Bears We Should Fear, its the BEES
Day 115 – VA 620 Trout Creek (1501.7) to Niday shelter (1510.6) – 8.9 milesThe day I waved goodbye to my family, also turned out to be a day of thunderstorms. My mom drove me to VA 620 Trout Creek in the afternoon. There we hugged, and as she pulled away, I began my climb up a hill. At this point, the sky was dark and cloudy, but no rain had started yet, and I held out hope that I could make it to a shelter that night before it began to pour. However, about halfway up the incline, I heard the sound of a van pulling in. I turned around to see a big white van covered in stickers, and I saw a group of people hop out and start to set up tables and put food on the table. Trail Magic?! The southern half of my flip flop had practically been barren of other people, and so I had not seen, nor did I expect much trail magic. Yet here it was. I had heard rumors that Fresh Ground was in the area. For those of you who do not know, Fresh Ground is a guy famous on the trail for providing some of the best trail magic… and so, even though I was full of food, I still decided to turn around and hike back down the hill to the van, just to see if it was him. And IT WAS!!! I basically sat and talked with him and the others for an hour. I was full, so I turned down most the food he offered (I know, I was shocked by this too, but I did accept the watermelon), and learned he had been helping out a thru-hiker named Prickleberry, who was also looking to finish her flip flop! She didn’t plan to head out that day but she would the next, so we exchanged numbers as rain began to sprinkle down on me (which I took as my sign to leave and start hiking). I had a moment as I hiked away in the pouring rain, where I was really truly sad and I missed my mom. For those of you who do not know me, I am not the most emotional person, but as I walked along I felt tears welling up, and I pulled out my phone and gave my mom a call, just so I could hear her voice again. For those of you who read my last post, you know that I hit kind of a slump as I went through the Triple Crown. And while I knew I still wanted to keep going, my goal to complete the AT never wavered, I was still struggling to find the motivation in each individual day to make that happen. I knew that I would eventually get out of the mental slump, and for me, the only way to deal with it was to keep pushing forward until I was past it. That being said, the pouring rain was not helping in the moment… but, the sound of my mom’s voice on the other end of the line did. After talking on the phone with my mom, I called my brother. Talking with him further helped, and next thing I knew, I was hiking into the shelter while still on the phone (comically, it poured rain as I hiked, and within 5 minutes of me hiking into the shelter that night, the rain stopped). As I said goodbye and hung up the phone, I heard a voice yell out “Reset? Is that you?” The voice belonged to Billy Goat, a SOBO Thru-Hiker. He and I had been around the same sections of trail for a while, and we had both heard of each other, but never actually met. A fellow thru-hiker, Geisha Girl, had finally gotten us in touch with each other, so that we could try and coordinate hiking together, but with all the time I had taken off in Roanoke with my family, I had not expected to see him so soon. That being said, it was great and we instantly began talking about how tired we both were of being alone on the trail and silk blazing every morning. I went to sleep that night, the knowledge of a hiking buddy making me feel just a little bit better about the upcoming days.
Day 116 – Niday shelter (1510.6) to War Spur Shelter (1529.0) – 18.4 milesThe next morning, I was somehow the first person to leave the shelter (I tend to be slow compared to other thru-hikers but I could not sleep well that night and the others in the shelter were section hikers). The irony of this is, even though I finally met up with someone on the trail to hike with, I was still the one silk blazing. About 10 miles into the day, Billy Goat caught me (turns out he is a super fast hiker), and no less than a mile later, we ran into Fresh Ground!! As we approached he told me that he had thought of me the day prior, as I hiked out in the rain, and he had decided he wanted to give me trail magic as well. What proceeded was maybe the best trail magic meal I have had as of yet. He cooked us VEGGIES and CHICKEN and TASTY HEALTHY FOOD and he had Gatorade and water and a CHARGING STATION ON HIS CAR. I learned that Fresh Ground has been doing Trail Magic for ~11 years now, and every year as the hiking season commences, he hops in his van and lives out of it for 6 months driving up and down the trail providing trail magic.
Day 117 – War Spur Shelter (1529.0) to PearisburgWhen I woke up the following morning, I tentatively took a glance at my ankle… it wasn’t good, but it could be worse I told myself.
Day 119 – Pearisburg (1561.3) to Woods Hole Hostel (1572.9) – 11.6 milesThe next morning, I decided my ankle was decent enough for me to get back on trail and hike out with Billy Goat and Prickleberry. Not even 5 miles into my hike and I was stung again… three times this time. Yes, as you must have guessed, one location was on my left ankle. The other was twice on my left bicep 🙁 The left side of my body truly is the juicy one To my surprise, in addition to the pain of the stings, getting stung brought on a rush of emotions. Tears started streaming down my face. I was so tired and frustrated with getting stung. It was starting to feel like an inevitability, and the fact that when I get stung I had to get off trail due to swelling brought back all the feelings of disheartenment I had while going through the VA triple crown. I immediately took a Benadryl, no messing with daytime allergy pills this time, straight to the hard-core stuff for me, and I called Angel’s Rest hostel, assuming I would need to get off trail since I now had 3x as much venom in my body. We agreed to meet at the next major road crossing which was 5 miles up the trail. It also happens to be the road that Woods Hole Hostel is located on, so I asked them to pick me up from there, since I assumed Angel’s Rest would be cheaper than Woods Hole (not to mention Angels Rest was in a town in case I needed anything). As I hiked down to Woods Hole, I passed Prickleberry and Billy Goat hiking back to the trail. They said the place was gorgeous and they had been really tempted to call it a day and stay because it was so nice, but they had flipped a coin to decided to keep hiking on. Woods Hole Hostel is one of the oldest hostels on trail. It is owned by Neville, a woman whose grandmother owned this land. Apparently they used to own many more acres, but overtime it has shrunk. There were goats and cows and pigs and chickens (actually, maybe not chickens… I don’t know). And the caretaker I met, an past thru-hiker named Jaws, told me they home make almost all their food, and if they don’t, then they buy from a local Amish market. The place was amazing, the views gorgeous, the beds terribly comfortable, and magically, they had decided for the SOBO 2023 season, to be donation based. So I was not hard pressed to call Angel’s Rest and tell them I did not need a ride back and I would instead be spending my night at Woods Hole. Jaws gave me ice packets for the locations where I was stI took a nap from from 4:30 to 5:30. And woke to the sound of a bell being rung for dinner. I was the only hiker staying there so I got to eat with the caretaker Jaws and Bruno, who as far as I can tell, is Neville’s significant other (Neville was sadly gone the night I was there). At that point, they clattered a bell of some sorts and informed me that dinner was ready. Dinner was pasta with a homemade pasta sauce and pesto and home baked bread and a salad. I found it all delicious as it was all homemade. At this place, they can all their own food. There’s cans of apple butter, cans of jam everywhere. The place look like an amazing place to live. They also had a great view of sunrise. The following morning I discovered, to my surprise and joy, that my ankle+arm had not swollen up to un-hikeable proportions, which meant I could hike on.
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