When it rains, it pours
Trail Days came at an interesting time on the trail. The trail was starting to wear on me and it was a good weekend off to spend with old and new friends. However, it wasn’t much of a break. There were so many giveaways, chores to do, and friends to see that the weekend passed in a blur. My fitbit logged over 14 miles of walking in town each day, which wasn’t much of a rest for my poor trail-rugged feet. Needless to say, I wasn’t ready for Sunday to come. My friend, Joe, dropped me back off at the Captain’s (where I got off the trail for Trail Days, mm655) and set me on my way.
With little rest from the weekend and with going big miles for the past two weeks, my body and soul ached. It was a slow, sluggish pace the first day on the trail. I felt unmotivated and unsure of myself. My two objectives for the weekend were to purchase much needed shoes and poles, but sadly, I wasn’t able to purchase either. I felt unprepared for the trail and my whole body yearned for a break.
Besides starting with low spirits, the week only got worse. I was looking forward to seeing some iconic scenes on the AT such as Dragon’s Tooth and McAfee Knob, but it was pouring down rain both days that I hiked to these trademark scenes. It was a tough hike up both these mountains to these lookout scenes and it crushed my spirits not to receive the reward of a nice view. Here I was risking life and limb climbing up and down slick rocks, all for naught. The final stab to my self confidence was running out of food on top of the mountain, 15 miles from town.I reached an all time low on the trail as I sat on a rock, almost in tears. My trail partner was still trying to catch up, I had bad weather for a week, and I was hungry and running out of energy with no food to fuel me. Luckily, I had cell phone reception and lamented to my mother on speaker phone about my hiker woes.
Thanks be to God, a hiker was passing by (which never happens anymore) just as my mom was telling me that going to Damascus messed up my food drop schedule and was the reason I was in my predicament for running out of food. (I am pretty sure the hiker must have overheard this short part of the conversation.) After I got off the phone, I saw the hiker ahead of me, walking slower than he was earlier in the day. As I passed, I made small talk and he stopped and handed me 3 different pro bars and some m&ms to make it to town. I was overcome with gratitude and was ashamed to take food from another thru-hiker, who can always use more food. He wouldn’t accept me politely refusing his help and I eagerly ate a pro bar before I made it another five feet. I was never more grateful for the hiker community I was part of or for God taking care of me in such a low point on the trail. I hope he is richly blessed on the trail for his kindness.
Since that day, things have been up and down. I met back up with Sequoia, but also realized that he wasn’t a good trail partner for me, so we parted ways once more. My family came down to visit and I spent two (very much needed) zeros at a campground with them. I had good company and a smorgasbord of gluten-free vegan food that I may have overindulged on. My step father even joined me on the trail for a day and I was able to show him some of the ins and outs of trail life. It was a few days of bliss with my family after some hard days on the trail. However, all good things must come to an end and they soon headed back home to their daily routines.
I have now been back on the trail for a few days and am still trying to adjust to trail life alone again. I have had three hiking partners for the majority of the trail so far and have found it much more pleasant to the alternative of hiking alone. The trail community is starting to thin out and I can go all day without seeing another soul on the trail. I spend the majority of the day thinking of random thoughts, singing a song, or thinking of life’s possibilities, all on repeat. I love alone time, but sometimes it is too much and I yearn for the company of someone else to enjoy a view or to even enjoy a variety in thoughts.
I am now in Waynesboro, Virgina which is at mile marker 861 on the trail. The trail was hard alone these past few days and I was unsure if I should go back or wait for other friends to catch up on the trail. However, I was invited to go home for Memorial Day weekend to spend time with my father’s side of the family and I jumped at the opportunity for some time off the trail to give my body a break while catching up with loved ones. I am looking forward to the Shenadoah’s and passing through Harper’s Ferry, but they can wait a few days while I recoup, trade out some gear, and take care of things at home.
Although it has been a rough few weeks, I did end the trail today with many blessings. I spent the night on top of a mountain with a spectacular view of the sunset and even woke up naturally at 5:30am to see the sunrise. I saw a group of bears playing in the forest and then basked in the morning glow of Humpback rocks at some beautiful views of the valley below. I splashed in a waterfall at a shelter and then saw another bear before hitting Rockfish Gap where there was some delicious trail magic of fruit, candy, water, and coffee. It was a glorious day and reminded me of what trail life is about. I’ll be leaving the trail for a few days, but know that I can’t stay away for long. Trail life, for better or for worse, can’t be beat. 🙂
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