Slack Packing and Sudden Shin Pain

Bama➡️Baxter Day 89&90

Day 89: 25 miles

This morning we all woke up around 4:30am. We planned to have an early start so that we could hike a big day but still get into town at a reasonable hour. I began to pack up slowly, and Tripod did the same. But Boosted kept falling back asleep. Eventually, Sweet Pea walked up fully packed up from his tent site. The rest of us were still in the middle of getting ready.

By 5:45am we all finally set out to begin our day. There was a massive climb to start us off. The beginning was unbelievably steep and it went on for a while. Eventually after a couple of miles the trail flattened out briefly to give us some relief. Following that the trail climbed a whole lot more until we reached Cornelius Creek Shelter. It was around 7:40am and we decided to take our first break of the day.

I ate some snacks and did my stretching. Then I made a mile marker out of Roxy’s fur. When Boosted brushes her, she sheds so much lately, so no better way to make my Bama➡️Baxter 1200-mile marker.

My Bama➡️Baxter 1200 mile marker that I made out of Roxy’s fur.

Posing with the 1200-mile marker made out of Roxy fur.

After taking a nice long break there, we got back to walking. There was a bit more uphill but it was a whole lot more gradual. It was a few miles of climbing for sure but was much easier than this morning.

Sweet Pea carrying the massive 4.5lb shelter on his pack. It kept falling off as he walked.

The giant 4.5lb shelter after it fell of Sweet Pea’s pack.

We pushed on for another big chunk of miles and then stopped off at a trailhead parking area to take another break. Tripod was able to get a shuttle ride scheduled to get back to his car. He’s actually going to get his car and then drive back and pick us up at the trailhead when we finish hiking later this evening. Then we are all going to go into Lynchburg, VA for the night.

The Guillotine, a rock stuck between 2 other rocks which overhangs right along the AT.

We stayed at the trailhead for a while, and I made a ramen for lunch. Then we pushed on to do the last 10 miles of the day. The incentive of getting into town to shower and relax was definitely making the time fly by. Partway through the 10-mile stretch, we took a quick break. Then we kept on going to get to the road where Tripod would be picking us up. And by 6pm we made it! Not too bad of timing for a 25-mile day.

Hanging out with Roxy while Boosted was getting water.

Boosted and Roxy crossing the bridge just before the road into Glasgow/Lynchburg VA.

Tripod arrived just after we got there and picked us up. He had even picked up some pizza to tide everyone over before eating in town. What a legend. He drove us into Lynchburg, and we found a reasonably priced hotel room to split among the 4 of us. Everyone showered at the room and got situated. Then we headed over to a place in the downtown area to grab dinner. The ability to get places by car is unbelievable. It certainly makes things a whole lot easier.

We went over to this place called the Water Dog, which was really cool. All of us sat on the outdoor patio and enjoyed a couple drinks. I got a seafood bisque and a loaded hot dog with a side of sweet potato fries. Everything was delicious. Nothing hits better than a great meal after a long day of walking. Besides maybe the tequila shots.

The delicious meal that I got at The Water Dog.

After we ate dinner, we headed back to the hotel. Everyone lounged at the room, and we did our laundry. Then later on around 10pm someone had the idea to walk over to Cook Out for late-night shakes. I sure do love a late-night milkshake. Then back at the room we watched some South Park and eventually all fell asleep.

Stopping off at Cook Out for late night milkshakes.

Day 90: 15 miles

This morning we all slept in pretty late in the room. Then I got up and walked over to the Continental breakfast. The spread was fantastic.

Back at the room I packed up my things and then we all hung out. Around 9:30am we all headed out to do our resupply. I also had to go to a gear shop and get a new pad because mine is clearly not working. Luckily I was able to contact REI and get a shipping label to return my broken pad. I’ll get a refund for that once it processes through. Until then I’ll just have to dish out the money for a new sleeping pad. You almost always have to replace gear at some point on a thru hike. On the bright side I dropped 6oz of weight by switching to the Therm-a-rest Neoair.

I was able to resupply at the grocery store, get a new sleeping pad, mail home a bunch of random stuff at USPS, and mail my old pad home at a UPS all in one shopping plaza. That was an incredibly productive experience. Then we drove back to the hotel to check out.

Before Tripod dropped us off at the trailhead, we stopped for Chick-fil-A. It was so damn delicious, and I hadn’t had it in ages. Then on our way back to the trailhead Tripod mentioned that he could probably slack-pack us today.  That sounded wonderful because we had a big climb coming up and were getting a late start.

Stopping at Chick-fil-A before getting back to trail.

So last minute we decided to do that! He also offered to watch Roxy for the afternoon so that she could take a zero day. That was ridiculously nice of him. We loaded all of our things into his truck and then took off with our tiny empty backpacks. The plan was to do 15 miles and then meet Tripod at another road to get the rest of our gear back from him.

Boosted and Roxy in the backseat of Tripod’s car on our way back to the trailhead.

When we began the climb out of town, I was immediately so happy that we were slack packing. The climb was unbelievably steep and long. I was huffing and puffing, and my legs were very tired, even with a practically empty backpack. As I walked, I just kept thinking about how much easier it was with no weight on my back. The climb was still hard, but we were able to move uphill pretty quickly. I had so much more bounce in my step, and my gait was a lot longer.

About 4-5 miles in, we stopped briefly at an overlook near the top of the climb. I had packed out the rest of my Chick-fil-A to eat. Up at the top, Sweet Pea asked when the next water source was. And when we checked, we realized that it was 6.8 miles away, and he had finished off nearly all his water. Usually, there are water sources all over the place. But every now and then, you get surprised when you forget to check.

Up at the top of the big climb while we were slack packing.

We decided to push on to the next shelter 6.8 miles ahead because it had a water source. The trail was really cruisy, and all of us were floating along as light as feathers. This morning waking up in the hotel room I felt pretty sore. But after walking for about 6-7 miles I was feeling a whole lot better.

At the spur to the shelter Sweet Pea and I both headed down. I figured that Boosted would probably do the same, and he was up ahead of us on trail. But when we got to the shelter, I was surprised to see that Boosted wasn’t there. So Sweet Pea and I just filled our water and hung out for a few minutes. Then we kept on going.

Right as we were coming off the spur trail and getting back on the AT, we ran into Boosted! He had stopped off a little ways back and wound up behind us without us realizing. We all continued on after that, and the time really flew by. At one point, we crossed a road, and Tripod was parked there hanging out. We sat with him at the truck and all ate something. Roxy was having the time of her life, relaxing and eating kibble all day.

Passing the AT 800 mile marker!

Before we headed out, we all gave Tripod money so that he could pick up pizza before he met us at the trailhead later. Then we continued along to do the last 4 or so miles of the day. I was feeling really great the whole time and was flying along. Then when we were just about a quarter-mile from being done, I felt a really sharp pain in my shin. It came out of nowhere and didn’t happen as a result of any particular motion or pressure. But once I felt it for the first time, it became a persistent sensation with practically each step. I expected it to lighten up, but after I’d walked a quarter-mile to the road, it was still bothering me.

Wildflowers along the side of the AT.

When we were walking around by the road looking for places to tent it was still bothering me. I started to get a bit concerned and realized that a bruise had actually already developed on my shin in that area. We beat Tripod to the road, so we wound up sitting down and waiting for him to arrive. My mind was racing with thoughts of this new and sudden pain. I just hoped that it would resolve itself quickly. We just got word today that our friend Smokey was going to be zeroing once or twice in town because of an injury he’s dealing with. So the thought of getting injured had certainly flashed through my mind today.

Tripod arrived, and we all grabbed our things from his truck. We set up our tents right in front of his truck on a grassy area. His truck provided perfect protection for us from the road. Once we were set up, we hung around his truck and ate some pizza. He got pizza, pasta, and soda! What a legendary way to end a day. It has been so cool hanging with Tripod recently. At this point we’ve been chilling every day for about a week. Between Trail Days, hiking the last few days, and then hanging in town yesterday and slack packing today. It’s been one hell of a week. One of my favorite so far on the whole trail, for sure.

After eating a bunch of food we all wound up heading to our tents around 9pm. Tripod is gonna sleep in his truck tonight, and we’ll sadly have to say goodbye to him tomorrow morning. But it was epic getting one last impromptu day to all hang out together.

Me with the giant 4.5lb shelter strapped to my backpack.

A beautiful flower alongside the AT.

Mountain laurel alongside the trail.

Roxy posing by an overlook.

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Comments 6

  • Markus : Jul 3rd

    Let’s see them boo-bees.

    • C : Jul 3rd

      You’re being an ass hat. Don’t be an ass hat.

    • thetentman : Jul 4th

      LOSER! Your Mom hates you.

  • Derek : Jul 3rd

    You are an inspiration. I’ve spent the last 10 years buying the best backpacking gear at REI. I’ve researched either the Appalachian or the Pacific Crest. I’ve asked so many questions to prepare but I get so many conflicting answers. Simple stuff, how many days of food and clothes? Deodorant every day? Things like that

  • the : Jul 4th

    Welcome to ‘Shin Splints’. Your stay will require at least 2 days’ rest. You need a few zeros. Do it.

    Good luck!

  • Tortoise : Jul 4th

    Hey Peg Leg! I met you at Niday Shelter in May on first night of my SoBo section to Damascus. Sorry to hear of your shin splints. Hope you are able to lay low and let them heal.


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