Virginia: Bamboozling and Confusing.
Too many miles into town and zero day!!!
I do not have much to report on the zero day, we had a lot of chores to get done that were made more difficult by the difficulty it is to navigate Daleville. Daleville desperately needs sidewalks. It is unfortunate as the town has everything a hiker needs, but everything is so spread out by the highway and interstate.
Despite how unwalkable the town is their one major redeeming quality is that they have great food. Three Little Pigs BBQ is amazing and anyone should defintely make the effort to go. It is reasonably priced food and they give hikers free banana pudding with their meal. There food made such a good impression that Dreamsicle and I went twice.
I finally made some gear replacements and bought a new sleeping pad due to mine deciding to spring a leak on me. I switched to the Big Agnes Rapide SL Insulated sleeping pad, my sea to summit wasn’t cutting it anymore. I needed something comfier to get better sleep to recover after longer days.
No Earworms today, listening to Frankenstein and having profound thoughts… You know, doing hot girl shit.
I was a little hesitant to get out of town, due to physical and mental fatigue. I felt rested, but my body was still a little stiff from all it had done. While the day off is nice, you can still feel all that your body repair (my knees feel like they’re spiritually 75). Mentally, I felt rushed. Being in town is nice but you have so much to do, finding time outside of chores to goof around and relax can feel rushed. Having ADHD doesnt make it any easier, the transition from woods to town can be overwhelming (I got so overwhelmed doing laundry in a hotel, I had to go touch some grass outside).
Once we were outside, it felt good. Is this the Virginia terrain everyone has been talking about? Because the trail felt suspiciously nice.
Too nice… Kind even…
The hills were of gentle grade, the Blue Ridge Parkway is within view and the views are stellar! HAVE I BEEN BAMBOOZLED UNTIL NOW?! Is this the Virginia everyone is talking about? If so, I begrudgingly love it. Not because it is unlovable, but because I have been misled by bastards.
A thing I find surprising out here is how many conspiracy theorists I have met. As soon as I mention that my background is in Parasitology and I studied parasites, a spark flashes in their eyes and madness comes out of their mouths. I have heard everything, from “every vaccine gives you a microchip and I have pulled them out!” to “doctors wont cure us of the parasites in our food system”. Mostly conspiracies about vaccines, poison in our food, and nanobots in our body. It’s bonkers. I understand that there is a general mistrust of government agencies, paired with massive amounts of rampant misinformation and the gatekeeping of data and information by higher education that leads to people becoming entwined in conspiracies. But my dude, I am not your parasitologist. My dudes with your “hot takes”, I am not going to aid you on revealing the truth. I literally crawled my way out of grad school and my brain is mush from all the reading I had to do, I do not have anymore room for thoughts that extend beyond raccoon and opossum memes.
Still doing ‘hot girl shit’ and pondering the nature of man while listening to Frankenstein.
I was hasty when I said Virginia was kind. Virginia is a fickle beast that lures you into a false sense of security. Lulling you in to complacency as you walk gentle rolling hills, that mask the beast composed of an aggressive grade that will make you work for a non existent view. Shame on you Virginia! Shame!
Today was uneventful. I managed to escape the shelter without starting a fight with a conspiracy theorist and get some miles under my belt. The day was kind until I faced the monstrous hill at the end of the day. We tried to find a swimming hole, but it was too cold and overcast to actually swim.
Overall, there was nothing profound. Nothing big or eventful. Just another day in the woods. A day filled with walking, eating, peeing occasionally, and then walking some more. Sometimes interesting things happen, you see a deer that might be a ‘flesh pedestrian’ (If you know, you know) and is having a faceoff with you. Other times, you see a really cool moth or bug. Every so often you hear or see something in the woods that is a little too strange and you just pretend nothing happened.
Life isn’t simpler out here, you just don’t have the distractions that you do in the “real world”, so you actually see the little things. You actually get to appreciate them for what they are. Wonderfully beautiful small simple things.
There was no music… Only spite.
Today Dreamsicle and I agreed to attempt to walk 12 miles by noon, a normal goal that is done by hikers trying to achieve bigger miles. This meant getting up early as we were trying to get to Glasgow today and had to get through 20 miles of trail due to bear closers. I am not a fan of getting up early unless there is an incentive, and while town is a massive incentive the 20 miles between me and town felt like a lot, but we had to due to bears being an issue in the last 10 miles stretch before town.
Due to Yogi, Booboo, Smokey, and Pooh Bear getting uppety and breaking into hiker’s tents, people have been on edge about bears. Out here, you have to think of black bears a very large raccoons, in most cases if you seem scary to them, they will leave you alone. In most cases raccoons are more vicious than black bears. Hell, the only thing black bears have going for them is that they are big. Hikers get nervous when those bears become bold and start getting too comfortable with us.
I saw too many section hikers and day not heed the newly marked and posted signs, blatantly stating no camping due to bears. I understand that this throws a wrench into a lot of peoples plans, but heed the warnings. Camping in this spot is bad for you and for these bears.
I applaud the thru hikers that took the time to educate some of the section hikers who were trying to camp. Educating the uninformed on why thet shouldn’t ignore the warnings and how “breaking the rules” impacts more than just them. How if we want to keep the spaces available for the activities we love, we got to respect the closures and regulations.
On the flip side, I’ve also noticed the tendency for thru hikers to separate themselves from the day hikers and vacationers by calling them things like “Muggles” or “Jean Walkers”. Guys stop it. I understand that day hikers, weekend warriors, and uninformed outdoor enthusiasts can get on your nerves, especially when they don’t understand trail etiquette or they ask so many questions that it makes you feel like your a zoo animal on display. I get it, they get on my nerves too. But did you ever think that they dream about what we do and want to be us.
Let that sink in for a minute.
People want to be us. They dream about doing what we are doing. Outdoor enthusiasts and the outdoor industry put us on a pedestal because we are doing the impossible. We are doing their impossible. People dream of our roughest and toughest days. They wish they could be us. It is a privilege to be out here and the day hikers are more aware of that blessing that thru hikers take for granted.
We are stewards for this trail and we set the example. So step up and set the example. Educate all, stamp out ignorance, and most of all be kind.
Reverse Nearo – 2 miles
Earworm of the Day – Fish In a Bird Cage, Fish In a Bird Cage
We were LAZY today. We got into Glasgow late the previous day after a very long 20 miles. So we decided the best plan of action was to take most of the day off today to relax and recoup. the town of Glasgow, albeit small, has everything a hiker could need. The town supports a free maintained hiker pavilion (with hot shower), a grocery store that is stocked with hiker essentials, a post office, and a restaurant. I consider this one of the best places to take a nearo. The town is quiet and you don’t have to pay for a hotel or hostel, so you can stretch those dollars a little further.
Our nearo was filled with chores and naps on a lovely lazy sunday. We decided we could try to push 10 miles later in the day after the heat broke and we were very tired from pushing 60+ miles in 3 days.
As is often goes out here, the AT likes to look at your plans and ruin them as quickly as you make them. As we left town, later than originally planned, I wanted to Jump Off the Foot Bridge into the James River. A tradition for thru hikers crossing the James River Foot bridge is to jump off the bridge into the river as a celebration/way to cool off. Sadly, I was unable to as I we were already running behind and Dreamsicle apparently has more of an instinct for self preservation of my life than I do. So sadly there was no flinging myself off the bridge like a heartbroken gothic heroine.
Our plans continued to go astray, as we realized having full packs meant walking up hill to the shelter would take longer. Also there was no water between the closer shelter and the one on the top of the hill. Our ambitions were crushed and we decided calling the day at two miles was good enough for a our nearo.
Being lazy pays off. We found prime tenting and hammocking sights and have most of the area to ourselves.
18 ish miles
There were no ear worms, I have decided it is gothic horror week and I am listening to Dracula.
The AT does not believe in flat… It is only up. Your only solace is in the shadow of the mountain ahead of you.
We walked up Little Rocky Row. Only up. Up what felt like one of the biggest climbs on trail to date. Also, who the hell names a big stupid hill ‘Little Rocky Row’!? A psycho?
Anyway, it was a lot of hills and a lot of up. Dreamsicle and I are trying to make up for our short(est) day on trail together by picking up some miles. So far it appears we have hit a pretty gnarly section of trail (I knew Virginia was a dirty fucking hilly liar), despite the rest is taking a beating on us.
I feel slow and hungry all the time. Since I have been trying to put more calories in my body, I feel like I have more tolerance for longer days. I dont feel the need to throw myself off a cliff due to the hysterics and low blood sugar. Even with the increase of calories, my body asks “Well, where’s the rest?”. I thought I knew what hiker hunger was, but this is just a new voracious hunger. I am constantly shoving whatever food I can stomach into my mouth.
I really just hope this new level of hiker hunger is just due to the increased terrain. As we approach 800 miles, things just feel harder.
Earworm of the Day: Carmina Burana: XXI. Cour d’amours: In trutina
The shadow of the mountain has no mercy. The mountain takes your breath away, but also your phone service and your will to live. The trail is still only going up. While there are downs, the ups are the ones that you remember most… Most likely due to your lungs feeling like they are bleeding.
Today we are hiking 22 miles to the Priest Shelter, this shelter is special as it is where many hikers confess their trail sins in the log book.
No! I am not telling you my trail sins, that is between Trail God, the Priest Shelter, and I. Also this shelter is supposedly haunted as someone was murdered there so thats cool! Add another haunted shelter to the list.
The day wasnt super eventful. I don’t know if hiking in the outdoors is losing its novelty. Things that once seemed exciting are now losing their charm and feeling mundane. I have a routine now. I wake up and walk, then I eat, and then sleep. As the days grt longer and hotter, you get up.earlier to maximize your time on trail. It’s like having a job.
Some highlights of the day include seeing a very sassy copper head, who made it clear that they were indeed a very tough snake. Cute little chunker. I think copper heads are the darndest little sassy snakes. I am not scared of snakes, but I also don’t bother them or mess with them. In fact, I think they are pretty neat. I took a herpetology course during my undergraduate degree, which involved a lot of field work which was mostly chasing snakes on the side of highways for a grade (AKA Herping). It was a blast getting to chase snakes, turtles, and frogs all over eastern and western Nebraska. From that experience I can identify some snakes and herps that are native to the midwest. Meaning, I am generally useless at identifying herps anywhere but Nebraska.
So far on trail I have seen box turtles, copper heads, rat snakes, garter snakes, and black racers. Nothing super crazy or special. I am still waiting to see a rattle snake, another species I consider incredibly dramatic. I hear I will probably see them in Pennsylvania. So I look forward to continuing north.
Earworm of the Day: Bonedigger, Adult Jazz
Heh. Heh. 69… Nice…
Okay now that we have cleared that up.
Today was hard! We have finally climbed out of the shade of these mountains… For now…
Three ridges is a technically stupid hard climb and the hardest 16 miler I have ever done. Lots of carefully climbing on loose rocks and avoiding stinging nettles, poison ivy, wild parsnip, and poison oak. It makes me worry for what the trail has in store for us.
I kept my bitching to a minimum, but it was rough and hot. Going up with long water carries was super tough. We kept passing people who were slack packing or day hiking SOBO, I understand why now. Three Ridges is a much more challenging hike NOBO than it is SOBO. So be warned future hikers, go South on this beast.
In better news, it was also the fastest 16 miler day we have done while on trail. Perhaps the speed was due to us planning on camping at Devil’s Back Bone Brewery that night and we had *almost* run out of food. By *almost* I mean we had a dinner and some snacks. By no means enough to get us to our next town stop in Waynesboro, but definitely enough to get us to a brewery for real food and beer. Since I am so low on food, I didn’t mind be persuaded to spend some of my very few dollars on food that doesn’t come out of a foil pack… Or at least I don’t see it come out of a foil pack…
If you are in the area of Devils Back Bone Brewery Base camp, go. They have it all figured out. Great food and a really nice brewery with camping, free tenting for hikers and nicer paid for areas for car campers and RVs. They also have nicer showers than some of the hostels and hotels I have been to on trail. So go check it out! Give them your dollars, buy their salted caramel date cheesecake and beer.
Even though the day was challenging, it was worth it. It makes me look forward to the future challenges ahead and how to embrace them.
15 ish miles
Earworm of the Day: Sickle and Hood, Brown Bird
Dreamsicle and I debated about pushing into Waynesboro today and we both acknowledged that we were beat. We had been pushing hard since Glasgow and needed a shorter day. So we decided that instead of doing the 20 miles into Waynesboro, a 15 and a 5 mile day was the best for us. We also needed to grab a days worth of food before we could get started on trail.
Luckily, we bumped into our friend and our trail Guardian Angel, Splash and her dog Stella, who gave us a ride to a gas station and back to trail. Splash is one of the kindest humans and we consider her our trail “Guardian Angel” because Splash just magically appears when you need a helping hand. Splash is supporting her husband, Titus, who is currently hiking on trail. They are some of the kindest, coolest, and wonderful humans. You can follow their blog and support them HERE.
Today was a perfect summer day. Not too hot, just enough clouds to keep the sun at bay, and a perfecr breeze. It made the hiking and being outside more tolerable. I was grateful for the gentler miles, the break from the humidity, the sun, and the suck fest that is walking hundreds of miles outside.
Let’s be real, nature doesn’t want you outside. Nature has spent millions of years naturally selecting and evolving to keep predators at bay. Nature doesnt care about you wanting to find yourself in the woods, it thinks that you are some interloper that is going to try and eat or fuck with it.
Existing outside is uncomfortable to say the least. The skin on my legs constantly itches or burns from being in constant proximity to poison ivy/oak, stinging nettles, and the myriad or bugs that want to feast upon my flesh. I probably have some unknown disease floating around in my blood from all the bugs that have dined on my blood. I am sun burnt, dehydrated, itchy, and sweaty. I smell like I have fermented and I have managed to chaff parts of me I didn’t know I could chaff. So, for all you that have this romantic Thoreau like ideal of the outdoors, where you immerse yourself in nature to find yourself, its not. It’s incredibly beautiful and wonderful, but about 90% of the flora and fauna could and (possibly) would like to kill me for sustenance or nutrients.
Earworm of the Day, Witches Wrath, Bridge City Sinners
It appears I was really tired. I had slept through my alarms and Dreamsicle had to open my tent and shake me to get me up this morning. I think the longer tougher days are actually catching up with me.
Despite my snoozing, we still got on trail by 8:30 AM and churned out 4.6 miles in 2 hrs. We then made it into Waynesboro shortly, after a trail angel gave us a ride and a tour if town.
So far, I am thoroughly impressed with Waynesboro. In the time we have been here we have found a great Virginia wine boutique called The City Foxes and a Appalachian Folk Magic Shop called PYRAMID. As a practitioner of Appalachian Folk Magic, it is great getting to stop in different shops that serve their occult and mystic communities, especially those that do take in cultural appropriation into account and try to focus on their cultural and historical roots.
Over all, I am having a fun Nearo and resupply. It has been fun exploring town and seeing all the charm and character it has. I hope I can one day visit it again to explore more.
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