Virginia: Rainy Days and Mondays
With over 500 miles of trail, Virginia constitutes about a fourth of the AT. I think it has taken me about four weeks to get through, and I have a dismal lack of blog posts to show for it. Why is that, you ask? Well, I blame a case of the rainy days. I loved northern Virginia and spent the first two weeks saying, “I don’t think SOBOs get the Virginia Blues.” Whether that’s true or not, I definitely ended up getting really down for the following reason: at some point, I had about a week straight of rain. My socks (and everything else) were constantly soaked, and the sun just went away, it seemed, for good, even after the rain stopped. I think i had about six sunny days in Virginia.
Eventually (about two days ago) the sun came out, and let me tell you, I vowed right then and there to never take the sun for granted again. There are a lot of things, in fact, that I hope I will not take for granted after this hike. It has definitely helped me to appreciate the little things like dry socks, running water, a warm shelter, and a cat on one’s lap. After the first two or three days of constant rain, all I wanted was a warm cat on my lap. I am happy to report that I got my wish at the Woods Hole Hostel, where there was a nice selection of three feline lap warmers to choose from. By the way, I recommend that hostel. A loud, old dude called K Dawg warned me not to stay at Woods Hole because he said it was a kumbayah hippie place, but I had a great experience there. Neville and Michael, the couple who run the hostel, were so nice, they cooked really good food, and they let me smother their animals with affection. They even have goats. GOATS, you guys.
Also, random thought: I am sitting on a park bench right now, and I am at least 43% sure Jack Nicholson, whom I love, is sitting on the bench across from me. End of random thought.
Let’s get back to the rain. The first day, I was like, “This sucks.” The second day, however, I really broke down. I had heard weather reports from various people who all said there was no end in sight to the rain. I stopped at a shelter for a snack and just cried, already missing the sun so badly. I know what you’re thinking: “Man, this girl cries in, like, every single one of her blog posts.” And you know what? Maybe I do. Whatever. But by about the fifth day, I was taking down a wet tent in the rain while singing the Eagles (“You in some trouble, boy! We know where you’ve been!” Anyone?)
Anyway, while I walked through the rain and icy wind in Virginia, I thought a lot about the reasons I came on this hike, and whether the trail has given me the experiences I set out to have. While this journey has been hard, it has helped me to be brave, resilient, and strong. Sure, I have cried quite a few times, but every time, the sun comes out, and the darkness eventually passes away.
And all those mountains on which I paused halfway up and said to myself, “I can’t do this”? After responding to myself, “Yes, you can,” I climbed every last one of them. I know I’ve got a ways to go (less than 500 miles, if you wanted to know), but I know I can do this.
And since I feel the trail is really a microcosm of life, I feel equipped to do all sorts of other things, too, even though they may be hard and scary (please hire me!). I keep thinking about how close I am to the end, and how I knew I would finish unless I became somehow physically unable to. But not in a cocky way. It’s just that I have learned quitting is a choice; it’s not something that just happens to you. And every day I choose not to quit. I believe that’s a skill I want to practice the rest of my life: perseverance. (Remind me about this as the days get shorter and colder and rainier and perhaps even snowier.) I’ve now got three states left and about 3.5 weeks. I’m going to go so crazy on that pie at Thanksgiving, some observers might call it vulgar. In the meantime, thanks for your support as I head to Tennessee!
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