No Horses (No Parents! No Bedtime!)

I was quite fond of this particular “No Horses” sign somewhere between miles six and seven hundred. I remember having frequent good weather, loving the Virginia wildflowers, and really starting to feel like spring was doing it’s thing here.

Do What You Feel & Change What You’d Like

The sign served as a light-hearted reminder to do whatever you want. As childish as the “I can do what I want so I will” mindset can be, it’s healthy in certain measures. Especially when considering one’s through hike. Your hike is your own hike and it’s important to remember that—especially if you’re feeling down or looking for a change. Realizing that I could create the change I was looking for simply by walking, or, doing what I wanted, was crucial for me. Although this section of trail was particularly beautiful and fun terrain-wise, I was having a hard time with the emotional parts. It was hard to end in the same place every day as the groups I wanted to hike with. I felt like I was either cutting my days short when I still wanted to go, or that I was struggling to keep up and hike as far as others. This was where I learned that I have a pace unique to myself, and that I had to follow it in order to get the most out of my hike.

Bacitracin on McAfee knob for a sunrise

 Free-bird Era

I’ve loved many of the groups I’ve hiked with. Bacitracin especially, since we spent the major part of our first two months on trail together and initially had planned on sticking together through the finish. At this time between Marion and Pearisburg VA, we started to end our days at different points. Although we were both already effectively free-birds, we often joked that “We can do whatever we want! No parents, no bedtime!” It was a lighthearted way to begin our separation and kept us both in pretty good spirits. Leapfrogging on the daily as opposed to camping together was a big change but definitely a needed one for both of us.

Big breakfast crew with Fresh Ground

We both had a great time solo-hiking, dropping in and out of different groups, and still running into each other every few days in towns or passing when the other was caught up somewhere. I ran into Bacitracin on this day at Dismal Falls, where myself and many other hikers spent a hot afternoon.

Captain Chaos and I sitting on the rocks while Chef swam

Reunited For a Week

We were about half a day apart heading into Pearisburg and I was camped at the top of Sugar Run Mtn (a beautiful view and very easy side trail) when I woke up sick. To spare gross details, we had both managed to contract Norovirus, despite having kept our food seperate and hiking separately. When I checked my phone she was having very similar issues and a few miles back on trail. We met at the closest road crossing and got a shuttle to the town of Narrows, VA, which was the only place we could find a hotel with vacancy. As (literally and figuratively) shitty the situation was, at least we were together!

It also happened to be bluegrass concert night where we were staying, so that was fun to listen to through the walls of the room while I slept with a bag of grapes. We took turns getting each other popsicles when the other had to get up for the bathroom. Friendship is beautiful.

The sunrise starting on Sugar Run Mtn

It was ironic that right as we had separated on trail we were brought back together in such a drastic way. I was glad to have someone to go through it with, and that I wasn’t alone in the recovery process afterwards which really did a number on both our paces and spirits. It’s a tough hit to the heart when you were comfortable hiking twenty plus mile days and suddenly are struggling to make it to fifteen before dark. It was nice to know I wasn’t alone in that struggle. Our bodies needed time to get better and back to where they were before. While we both awaited the day we were back to normal, we were able to spend pretty much the whole week together since we were both functioning at limited levels.

Pretty pink flowers in VA

Away Again

We stuck together that week up until the Beech Hill B&B Hostel in Daleville. The day after we left we hiked different distances, and following that Bacitracin took a zero for a personal matter while I kept hiking. Since then, we haven’t been at the same point on trail but have been able to visit each other a couple times! We’re both having plenty of our own adventures on trail and have found others with similar paces. Splitting up was best for both of us and although I miss hiking together, we’re both having a blast on our own hikes. Currently, we’re about one hundred miles apart on trail and supporting each other from a distance. I look forward to sharing stories with each other whenever we get the chance.

Myself And This Blog!

Going into this, I didn’t have a very clear plan of how I would utilize a blogging platform on my thru-hike. I’m clearly still ironing out that plan as I’ve felt inspired to share about three times (four now!) since embarking on this journey. It’s been easy to fall into the mindset of “I just walk every day so I don’t have anything important to say,” especially when I go through a constant ebb and flow of record-keeping on my day-to-day, such as what I choose to keep track of through journaling or photos. Some days I write a lot; things feel more inspiring and I want to mark every memory down to minute details. Some days I just scribble down my mileage and a short note, something interesting I saw, or what I need to remember in town. Lots of days, especially recently, I’ve found myself opting to completely avoid any writing at all. As fun as it can be in the moment to leave my crusty little notebook blank and crash after a long day, it seems to disservice me in the long run. It’s hard to reflect on days or events I didn’t record, and things tend to blend together when I’m not regularly writing.

From Here & Onward

Lucky for me, there are many days and small periods over the last 1300 miles which I did keep track of and can look back on for reference. Even luckier, after completing 1300 miles on the Appalachian Trail, I still have just under 900 to go. Despite being over halfway through, there’s always time to improve on my habits. I’m going to do my best to keep writing. Even if it’s just to myself at the end of a day–whether long or short, good or bad–it’s important that I keep track. I’m grateful for what I’ve kept so far, and I’m hopeful that I will be devoting more time in the near future to using those daily records to write more blog posts! There are certainly some stories I’d like to share so stay tuned for the day they manifest themselves into blog posts. Happy hiking!


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Comments 1

  • thetentman : May 14th

    That sign is great. Thanks for the post and the pic.

    Good luck.


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