Virginia or Bust

Once I left NC for good, I couldn’t wait to finish up TN and get to Virginia. The shelters in this section of TN have no privies, so it’s cathole-digging all day long. Also, it’s a big mental milestone to get to VA….and have I mentioned TN doesn’t have privies?!

Day 60 – zero’d at Mountain Harbour and had the best breakfast possibly of my life. 

Also ran into Thumper.

He and his tramily were the first thru-hikers I met on my first shakedown hike in Shenandoah last May, and they were so kind and encouraging. I even have a picture of us eating lunch together at Skyland over a year ago.

Day 61 – Orange Man and I headed out and passed multiple 400-mile markers.

We had views back to the Roan Highlands for a lot of the day.

Lunch at Jones Falls was 100% the extra 0.1 mile hike off trail. 

Day 62 – pretty rocky today!

Spent a lot of time today walking alongside Laurel Fork (River? Creek?), watching it roaring through the trees before finally getting to Laurel Falls.

At one point the trail was riiight next to the river.

We walked alongside the river a few more miles, then had a really crappy long climb and descent to Boots Off. It was the definition of a PUD (pointless up and down).

Day 63 – Orange Man stayed behind at the hostel, as his girlfriend is coming out to spend a few days with him. We’re going to try to meet up and hike together again down the trail. So I headed out alone, along a trail flooded by the lake.

Then walked along the dam, which was pretty but very exposed and hot.

Had my first real fall trying to climb over a fallen tree, got my legs and poles tangled up and landed hard on my knees. I’ll be feeling that one for a while. 

Day 64 – lots of walking through pastures today – at first flower-strewn, then cow-patty-strewn. I’ll let you guess which one is more enjoyable.

I saw the famous AT barn, which was a nice surprise.

Covered 19 miles today, the longest day yet. Cannot wait to get to VA tomorrow. 

Day 65 – while packing up this morning, who should walk up to the shelter but Shades! For context, Shades is a blind hiker who is doing the AT with her guide dog Blaze and occasional sighted assistance. I’ve been following her travels on FB and I really admire her, so it was a real treat to interact with her in person.

Then I FINALLY got to Virginia. See you never, Tennessee, land of no privies. 

I got into Damascus, which is a very hiker-friendly town, and quickly discovered they have a fabulous diner.

Then headed to the hostel and borrowed a bike to get to the grocery store. 


Discovered my $30 Target trekking poles lost a tip, so decided to retire them at 4470 AT miles and get new ones. Farewell, bright blue poles, you served me well. 

Day 66 – my pack is heavy with too much food (again) and my knees are still pretty sore from my fall, so I opted to take the Virginia Creeper Trail out of Damascus rather than the AT.

It saved me a TON of up and down and was much gentler on my aching knees. Clutch those pearls, AT purists. The trail was beautiful, with lots of creek crossings. 

Day 67 – started off with a big climb, tough and foggy going through cow pastures.

Ran into Dust, a hiker I met before taking my break at home, who told me my hockey team got knocked out of the playoffs last night. Bother. Anyway, the clouds lifted right as I got to the summit.

It was sunny and clear after that, with lots of flame-colored azaleas to brighten my day. 

Day 68 – one of my favorite days! Passed mile 500 early on, then entered the Grayson Highlands.

Had a beautifully clear day and got to do some light rock scrambling.

There were a ton of wild ponies around, not at all afraid of people.

The views were lovely and the ponies got more numerous as I walked.

At one point, a foal entered the trail 10 feet ahead of me and just meandered toward Maine for a few minutes with me trotting in its wake. 

Day 69 – another 19 mile day. Very humid and misty in the am, with mountain laurels blooming all around.

It started raining in the afternoon but I was already so soaked with sweat that I didn’t bother putting on my rain gear. One of those days where you put your head down and slog forward, otherwise known as “embrace the suck.” Finally got to my shuttle, which brought me to the Merry Inn in Marion, where I’m zero’ing today. Y’all, they have a clawfoot tub for hikers, complete with epsom salts and bubble bath. I’m in heaven. 

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Comments 1

  • Jingle bells : Jul 9th

    Great update


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