Wild ponies, cold oatmeal, Alexa Stardust, and lots and lots of trail magic
General update: I’m not going to lie, I’ve brushed my teeth with a lot of animals this week. I think I finally have my trail legs and I’ve upped my daily mileage. I left my bubble in Damascus to hike out with my dad and I haven’t seen them in over a week. BUT I’ve caught up to some old friends, and I’ve made new friends too. Wild ponies are out of control. I night hiked. I got really annoyed with a boy on the trail who tried to small talk me to death while I was on a mission. I got hit with a whirlwind of wonderful trail magic that makes my life complete. I ran out of fuel when I only had oatmeal left to eat. And then I ran out of oatmeal. My sister, Alexa aka Alexa Stardust, came to visit. I miss her. I’m currently at a frat house in Blacksburg, VA. It is clean…in comparison to some of the other places I’ve slept in the past 2 months. We’re going to an AYCE (all you can eat) wing buffet for dinner and then playing BINGO afterwords. BINGO!!!!
Days miles: 18.9
Total trip miles: 495.7
Days miles: 25.1
Total trip miles: 520.5
Today I saw ponies, cows, a deer, a frog, a salamander, and a lot of people. Everybody is out and about for Memorial Day weekend. I did a 25 mile day and was pleased to make it to camp before dark this time. This 25 was a lot harder than the last one. Soooo many rocks. My feet are killing me and I rolled my ankle twice. The second time I heard a really loud pop. I even heard it through my headphones and I never hear anything when I have headphones on. I thought I really hurt myself but I was able to walk it off. The wild ponies were so much fun! I fed them and petted them, we giggled together. I even got to pet a baby pony. The babies were so small and soft. You’re not supposed to pet or feed the ponies but I didn’t see the sign until afterwards. The sign was placed on the north end of the ponies, so all of the people walking south saw it, but us northbound hikers did not. I was brushing my teeth with the ponies, feeding them, getting licked by the babies, petting the baby ponies, giggling while they licked my backpack, taking selfies, and thinking “this is great! Why isn’t anyone getting in on this!?” All of the tourists would just stand there and look at them.
Days miles: 17.7
Total trip miles: 538.2
A mosquito bit me two times on the forehead this morning. I looked like a mutant. Apparently a large animal came to camp last night. It was rustling the leaves and breaking sticks and branches. I slept right through it. At the 10 mile mark I hit Partnership Shelter which was really kewel. There was a shower, a sink, clothesline, bathroom. AND you can order a pizza and they’ll deliver it there, but I didn’t do that. I hitched into Marion. I said I was hitching and asked if anyone wanted to come with me (you know, because I’m a little bit more careful after I hitched into Meth Capital). This kid said yes, and then proceeded to stand there without sticking his thumb out and make small talk. I hate small talk, and nobody would pick us up. The kid was like “you look like you’re getting pissed.” I told him to go hide behind the trees so I could get us a ride and then he could run out. This is a real thing. People get rides like this. He wouldn’t and continued to make small talk. We finally got a ride to the post office. His job was to be charming and friendly and work on getting us another ride while I picked up my package. He sat on the stairs and waited for me to come out and get us a ride. Which I did. Strike 2. I’m almost done ranting here. Stay with me. Strike 3 was a ride back to the trail. I tried to dash out of Mcdonalds to ditch this kid because I was so irritated by him. I got a ride from a lovely lady named Libby Davis who was just the sweetest lady ever, and I go to get into her car and she said “is your friend coming too?” I looked back and the kid was standing by the car. Ride number 3 I got for us and strike 3 for kid. You’re welcome kid. Note to all the fellas out there. Pull your weight, be charming, do something other than waste time, sit there like a bump on a log, and make stupid small talk! I’m rethinking not hitching alone. After I finally ditched that kid when he stayed at the shelter and I continued hiking, I got almost through my 7.6 mile hike when it started thundering. And then it started pouring. But I was happy for a few reasons. It wasn’t cold rain, and it held off until the last half mile of my hike. When I walked up to the shelter I was nervous it was going to be full and I was going to have to ask people to scoot over, but there was just one guy (Bob Marley) in a hammock in the shelter which was the best case scenario! I set my tent up in the shelter, hung my stuff up, and changed into dry clothes. Bob Marley was awake too so I didn’t have to be super quiet. He’s from Raleigh where I went to school and he goes to a bar/restaurant I worked at all the time. What a wonderful world.
Chatfield shelter to Campsite
Days miles: 16.2
Total trip miles: 554.4
Today was a great day. The forecast called for rain but it never came. I hiked with Bob Marley today which was nice. It’s good to have company, especially the company of a fellow North Carolinian. We passed a school this morning. The guidebook made me think it was a real school but it was like an old schoolhouse. It was really cool and there was trail magic soda and a lot of useful things in there. I had a regular Dr. Pepper. I never have regular Dr. Pepper. We hiked a few more miles where there was a road crossing and a restaurant called The Barn. We had a lovely breakfast and then left there around noon. Today was a long day and a tough day. My body is getting worn out from the big mileage days. It was soooo humid and hot. I was dripping sweat anytime I was moving and there were a lot of uphills. We planned to go to the shelter but only made 2 miles shy of the shelter.
Campsite to campsite
Days miles: 5.7
Total trip miles: 560.1
Made it almost 6 miles today. I got most of my stuff packed up around 9:00 and went to a sheltered picnic table area near where we camped to eat breakfast. It’s a place you’re not supposed to use without permission from the city or something. A car pulled up and we were like damn, they’re about to tell us to leave. But they got out of the car and said that were about to cook some burgers. It was trail magic! I had a cheeseburger, potato chips, a hot dog, 3 mini cinnamon buns, a waffle, 6 cookies, a banana, a chocolate milk, 2 packs of fruit snacks, more chips, a zucchini bread, a juice box, and a flavored water. The cheeseburger was the best cheeseburger I’ve ever had. All of the above is why I only made it 6 miles. During the 6 mile hike I saw a black snake. I decided it wasn’t poisonous because there aren’t any black poisonous snakes around here. Right? So I touched it with my right index finger. One of my goals for this trip is to pick up a snake. I’m not quite ready yet, just testing the waters. The snake flinched and got ready to strike. I ran away. Success! Next step is to grab it and drop it. And then I think I might be ready to pick one up. Another goal of mine is to get a ride in an 18 wheeler. I camped with Bob Marley again by a river. We got in around 6:00 which hasn’t happened in weeks. I’ve been getting in around or after dark every day. I used my pocket shower to take a shower. And I did laundry. The Last Mohawk and Lorax showed up around 8:30. The Last Mohawk filtered some water and said there was definitely some poop runoff in it. I felt not as good about my shower and laundry. All in all it was an excellent day.
Days miles: 15.6
Total trip miles: 575.7
Days miles: 12.7
Total trip miles: 588.4
Last night I ran out of food and fuel so I ate cold plain oatmeal for dinner. In the morning morning I ate cold oatmeal for breakfast. Cold oatmeal doesn’t hydrate like warm oatmeal does so it was like a weird slushy oatmeal mix. I had 12 miles to get into Bland, VA with no food. Alpine Monkey was nice enough to give me some snacks to hold me over and I was so hungry when I got into town. I ate two wraps at Dairy Queen, fries, a s’mores blizzard (awesome), cheese-it’s, twizzlers, some cookies, and some crackers. Bones is a kid from Kentucky and his dad is basically slack packing/trail magic-ing him to Maine. He meets him at all the gaps and takes him to eat and what not. Today is my lucky day because Bones just so happened to be at Dairy Queen in Bland today. Jack in the Box (his dad) drove us back to the trailhead, slack packed us for a mile, and let us put our food in his car for the night so we didn’t have to hang bear bags. I was so grateful for his help.
Days miles: 20
Total trip miles: 613.7
Awesome day! Jack in the Box slack packed me 12.3 miles to where sister was waiting with trail magic. Slack packing was so much fun! I averaged a 19 minute mile which is pretty darn fast. I’m seriously considering lightening my pack. I wish I had done more research on this before I left. Alexa had taco trail magic at the road crossing. Tortillas, chicken, cheese, salsa, guacamole, refried beans, cookies, beer, sodas, juice, fruit, AND she brought me a blizzard. It was amazing. Alexa and I hiked another 7.7 miles after that and still managed to make it to the shelter before dark. There was only one spot left, so she took it since she didn’t bring a tent. An older man and his friend were staying in the shelter. The man started asking me about my tent as I was setting it up. He said he was thinking about getting one and then he offered to trade places with me and sleep in my tent so I could stay in the shelter with Alexa. It was a lovely business deal.
Shelter to Woods Hole hostel
Days miles: 7.2
Total trip miles: 620.9
Short day to Woods Hole Hostel with Alexa. She caught a shuttle back to her car and I stayed the night at the hostel. It was so nice to see her again! This may be the last time on the trail as I’m getting farther from home. 🙁 The trip is going to be too far for just a two day visit. Thanks for coming sister! Woods Hole Hostel was really neat. It’s a “Slice of heaven, not to be missed.” The hostel is run by Neville and her husband Michael. They place emphasis on sustainable living through beekeeping, farming, and organic gardening. They also offer massage therapy and free yoga. The coolest thing about the hostel is that Michael and Neville are involved in everything and they invite everyone to be a part of everything. They have communal breakfast and dinner which is great. Everyone has a part in preparation and cleanup. I picked lettuce, spinach, and kale from the garden with Gandolf. Our dinner was a sausage stir fry with greens over rice served with salad and homemade bread. It was delicious. After dinner we had homemade butter pecan ice cream. So glad I stayed here. This was one of the few hostels I knew about before coming on the trail that I really wanted to visit.
Woods Hole Hostel to a fraternity house in Blacksburg, Virginia.
Days miles: 10.4
Total trip miles: 631.3
Remember my friend Andrew who was way ahead of me? He made it about 850 miles or so before getting off the trail for a job opportunity. Well he’s living in Blacksburg temporarily renting a room from a friend at the fraternity house. Andrew offered to pick me up so I could take a couple days off the trail and here I am! It’s actually really nice here. There are only a few boys living in the house this summer and they have been working most of the time so I pretty much have had the place to myself. It’s awesome. The house is right downtown so I can walk everywhere. Andrew had to work so I walked to Kroger (fitness continues even off the trail), got Chipotle for dinner (what a treat!), and got frozen yogurt for dessert. Ah, a real town day. Just what I needed.
Peace out. The AYCE buffet is calling my name.
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