What a First Week
Greetings from Bland, Virginia!
It’s been surprisingly hard to blog from the trail, but today I have wi-fi (thank you Bland library!), salad (thank you, Silent Bob) and juice in my phone, so here goes the highlights reel from week 1.
How bout mostly pictures?
Start: Grayson Highlands State Park
End: Random campsite
I’ve asked so many hikers what their favorite part of the trail has been so far. If it wasn’t the Smokies, it’s Grayson Highlands State Park. I’m so glad I’ll get two chances to see it. Yay!
I’ll knock a toddler over at the petting zoo to get to the ponies, and the ponies did not disappoint. I love their livestock smell.
My sleeping pad deflated during the first night. Luckily my husband (Silent Bob) hiked out the first night with me, so I took his giant thermarest and barely had room for food in my pack on my second day.
Makin’ it work!
Start: Random campsite Mile 506.2
End: Randon campsite Mile 518.4
Top Ten: Whipporwill at dusk
Overcast day perfect for hiking except for the part where you don’t really know when it’s going to rain, you just know that it is.
Luckily, I got all my camp biz done before the rain came down (hard), so I snuggled in and hoped to stay dry.
Mostly I did, though the ZPacks tents are fiddly and open to puddles if not pitched just so.
I’m not saying there weren’t puddles.
NOBOs I met today:
- Clunk: came from England to have his Bill Bryson moment.
- Skank Bone & his Weimaraner Willow
- Super Mario: finishing the SOBO he started last year…cheered me up after my emotional moment after leaving my husband and dog.
Lesson of the Day: Test the bear bag line before hanging your bag or you may find yourself clunked on the head with a branch.
Hard to say goodbye to a face like that!
And a spring coming right out from under a tree.
Start: Campsite at Mie 518.4
End: Partnership Shelter
Total Miles: 31
TOP TEN: I’m finding I love moving from point A to point B, point B to point C, etc. My inner nomad is happy!
Run towards what you fear. When a part of you says “no” based on fear & trepidation, that’s exactly the thing to say “yes” to.
That’s what I was telling myself as I debated about whether to stop at the shelter or camp.
I didn’t really like the idea of rolling around in a mouse-infested shelter with a bunch of stinky hikers.
But I went for it (and was secretly relieved to find out that even though the guides say no camping at the shelter, there were tents going up all over the place.)
So I camped with about 40 of my new closest friends.
It was crowded, I suspect, because you can order a pizza to be delivered at the shelter. I didn’t, but I wished I did because it smelled luscious.
RAVIOLI took my charger to town to juice it up for me (trail magic!)
GRIZZLY BEAR FROM MAINE shared trail tips with a relatively captive audience.
TOO HIGH TO HIKE played guitar and made coffee in a ceramic mug he pulled from his pack (is he really a hiker, I wondered).
LIONHEART built a lovely fire.
Scooted this dude off to the side of the trail so he didn’t get potatoed under a hiker’s boots.
Start: Partnership Shelter
End: The Reax Inn in Atkins, VA
Miles: 11.6 (3 more than I wanted)
Total Miles: 42.6
TOP TEN: Umbrella, umbrella, umbrella!
Oh, Sweet Jesus, was I happy to be in the shithole known as the Relax Inn…cracked pink tile in the bathroom, moldy pictures on the wall, and AC that kept turning itself down to 60 degrees when I wasn’t looking. Total luxury!!!
Here’s how it went down:
Woke up dehydrated with a headache.
Ate a protein bar.
Got started late, but no problem…I was only going to go 8.5 miles.
The sun kicked my ass all the way up the first mountain. No shade. No water. Now, not only did I have a headache, I was feeling nauseated.
I’d have given anything to puke.
Then I did.
(Also, put up the umbrella and called it a parasol and it was Top Ten.)
Felt a little better, so I kept trudging uphill till I found a rhododendron bush to crawl under and take a nap.
Had a moment with a doe.
Just after passing a shelter and descending about 500 feet, the thunder started.
No problem. Up went the umbrella again.
Then the lightening came.
And the chickpea sized hail.
Nothing like a little lightening to turn on the afterburners.
It was still coming down when I passed the campsite I wanted to stay in, so I pushed on to the Relax Inn, another 3.5 miles and collapsed in the of Atkins’ finest No Tell Motel.
It was all I could do to shower, rinse out my undies and dine on a dry tortilla and an Advil PM.
Like I said, good times.
I woke up feeling good and Silent Bob was there in the morning with food and encouragement.
Is it cheating to have your own personal Trail Angel?
Leave a comment and let me know.
I know I didn’t finish the week, here, but, seriously…blogging from the trail is time-consuming.
I’ll ration more next time.
Until then…Happy Trails.
This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!
To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.
I did a section hike from the Greyson highlands to parisburg last year. It was incredible and a section that I feel like most people don’t write about. Thanks for taking me back! Good luck! And all trail magic welcome!
No, it’s not cheating to have your own trail angel, or to sleep in a hotel, or skip 3 inches of trail! This is YOUR walk, and you get to do it exactly how you want to. Say hello to Silent Bob 😉 for me, and keep posting. I love reading it. Happy trails, my friend.