Mile 532.5 – Mile 640.6

Mile 539.2

We made it to Chatfield Shelter around 3pm and immediately set up the tent. We decided to just call it an early day since the rain storm was predicted to start mid afternoon. We made the right decision. The hard rain started shortly after we put the tent up.

We ended up chatting and napping and having an early dinner. I fell asleep at 8. Unfortunately, Duane did not fall asleep at 8. Tenting next to the shelter sometimes comes with mice. Duane didn’t sleep so great. And neither did Stretch. He was busy trying to grab the mice through the tent.

Mile 543.8

We got up around 5:30am and left the shelter around 6:30am. It felt great to get an early start.

We still needed a ride back to Duane’s car at some point so I called a shuttle in hopes that they could pick us up 17 miles up the trail and later in the evening. She offered us a ride for $75 at 12:30pm. We didn’t have a ton of options, so we took it.

We ended up getting brunch at the Barn Restaurant in Atkins and airing out our gear which was wet again from the rain.

Mile 556.7

The past couple days have been relaxing and wonderful. I took two zero days and spent some quality time with Duane. We went hiking everyday on local trails, went paddle boating, ate a lot, slept in a comfy bed, took a lot of showers and one bath, and saw one really bad movie at the theater. It was really difficult saying see you later.

Stretch and I hiked until about 5:30 today. We passed the 1/4 sign! It was pretty awesome. It sort of feels like I’ve walked that far but also not really.

Mile 570.7

Today was a pretty good day. Stretch and I climbed a pretty big mountain, waited out a storm in a shelter, and picked out a pretty great campsite.

Something I did today that wasn’t fun – picking 6 ticks off of the dog. Bleh.

Mile 587.1

Nothing super exciting happened today. I’m really enjoying having the Guthooks app on my phone. It’s much easier to plan out my day and it’s fun to read the comments from other thru hikers.

Our camp spot is pretty awesome. It’s right at a view point. I watched a storm roll in and the sunset too, right from my sleeping bag.

Tomorrow we will pass Stretch’s first 100 miles. I’m buying the dog a burger.

Mile 601.7

Well, the dog got a chili cheese hotdog. He was pleased.

Often when I’m walking along mountain ridges I’ll hear noises from in the valley below. The sound seems to amplify. It’s kind of neat. Last night I heard a dog barking and it seemed like it was right down the trail. Today I heard someone mowing their lawn. I started to day dream about the person cutting the lawn, what the yard looked like, what kind of mower it was, if it was shaded or sunny, and then what they were going to eat later, and then dreaming about ice cold lemonade. It always comes back to food.

Stretch busted the belt buckle of my pack today in an attempt to chase a squirrel. I called REI and they said Osprey will send me a new one free of charge. I just have to figure out where to have it sent.

It’s really not easy planning out here. I have to make sure the hostel or outfitters is at least 4 days ahead of me. I also think about what time of day I’ll arrive and if I’m going to stay there. All of that has effect on my days prior. I have to hike a certain amount a day to make sure I get there on time before they close or not too fast that I’ll have to wait on the package the following day.

I walked 7 miles without a water source and started to get nervous. When we did come across one that was in Guthooks, it was dry. I walked about 40 feet down the hill though and found some pools of water and filtered that.

I have now walked 600 miles to date.
Mile 617.5

Stretch and I hiked 7 miles and then 1/2 mile down the road this morning to Trent’s Grocery. I ordered a chicken salad sandwich and chicken tenders and fries. I grabbed a can of wet food for the pup to enjoy while I ate. I also grabbed a Budweiser tall boy and packed it out.

After the gas station store pit stop, I went back up to the trail. When we made it to Dismal Falls there were a a couple dozen of other thru hikers hanging out. A lot of them had hitched to the parking lot above the falls and had brought cases of beer down with them. I was offered a brew and didn’t turn it down. Stretch was so funny. I let him off leash and he was running around trying to get as many pets as possible. At one point I lost where he was. When I found him he was sitting in a circle of guys just watching all of them while they were drinking and smoking. It was pretty funny.

The weather was so great today. I ended up hiking into the evening and didn’t set up camp until about 8:30. Hiking during the golden hour is beautiful. I might make it a regular thing.

Mile 623.8

Another great weather day. There were two or three view points too.

I made it to Woods Hole Hostel. What a peaceful place. They have pigs, goats, cows, and a vegetable farm. The gumbo for dinner tonight was organic and local. The meat was from the farm. They also had homemade bread with garlic and pesto. So delicious. I over ate…of course.

Mile 640.6

Today was not my favorite. I left the hostel after breakfast and made it to Pearisburg about 3 o’clock. I hitched a ride into town and got picked up by a local who was very kind but who told me to “watch out for the pill heads in this town”. I was sort of debating staying the night in a motel but I decided I needed to keep moving. I didn’t need to spend the $60 on a room or meet any “pill heads”.

I ate at the Chinese buffet, grabbed a couple items at the grocery store, and then Stretch and I walked the mile or so back to the trail. It was hot. And It was even hotter walking on the road. Stretch was struggling and it made me feel pretty bad.

We walked another 3 miles up the mountain and realized there wasn’t a water source until mile 640. I hadn’t been that thirsty or panicky yet. I didn’t set up camp until after I got water which was around 8:30.

It’s supposed to rain most of the day tomorrow. I’m thinking of it not heading out until the rain slows.

End of Day 56.

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 7

  • D : Jun 5th

    Hike strong, live strong, Stretch strong, stay strong, thong song. Miss you.

    • Kerry : Jun 20th

      lol thong song.

  • Chris : Jun 9th

    Love that Stretch is with you and your photos are incredible. Thanks for sharing your experience so vividly.

  • Sooz : Jun 13th

    anna, i love reading your blog. I had a question: Did Stretch have any issue transitioning to all that walking/climbing? Were his feet calloused enough that it wasn’t an issue?

    Eric’s mom,

    • Anna Zimmerman : Jun 13th

      Hi! Thanks for reading. He has always gone day hiking with me and had done several backpacking trips leading up to this. He’s a pretty athletic dog so I haven’t had an issue. I treat his feet every night with Mushers Secret. It’s a natural balm that helps condition his paws.

  • Kerry : Jun 20th

    That’s scary about the water, but glad you found some! <3 Keep on goooooinnnnng.

    • Anna Zimmerman : Jun 22nd

      Thanks, Kerryberry!


What Do You Think?