AT Update: 1000 miles!!!

Day 70:

Well, considering how squished our tent site was, it was a surprisingly good night of sleep. But it did mean that when simon got up at like 6:30, I was up too. But I’ve had earlier wake-up’s. All 3 of us left camp around 7:45. Imom shot ahead, he had about 28 miles to do so he was in a rush. Lindsey and I took it slower, we were only facing hunger, and we only had to go 3 miles.

Lindsey is meeting a couple of her roommates today at a resort called Skyland. I decided to tag along, because why not. I could use a mental spa day. We got there around 9:30, and immediately plundered the gift shop for snacks. I ran to the bathroom, and when I can back, Lindsey had vanished, along with her stuff. I said, alright guess she went to meet her friends, looks like it’s just me and me.

And just me it was! I started off with breakfast, which was very very good, even if it was a bit of a wait. It’s the busiest weekend of the year, so I spent a lot of my time dodging crowds as best as I could. I do not feel like interacting with a whole bunch of people right now. I also don’t plan on violating peoples noses with whatever the heck i smell like right now. So, I meandered around, hanging out, and taking in the scenes.

That was basically all of my day. I watched frisbee, snacked, called my family. Very very good brain floss type day. Eventually though, it was time for me to get going, so I picked up and hit the road. It was only like 8 miles to the next shelter, so I wasn’t super worried about it, but I hiked fast anyway. Was it because there was more frisbee to watch? Potentially. Whose to say really.

About 3/4 of the way to the shelter, I ran into more trail magic! Twice in two days is crazy! And wouldn’t you know it, it was the exact same group, with some other people who decided to stop by out of nowhere. They cooked burgers, handed out gatorade, the works. It was a dream. I hung out there for a solid 30 minutes before remembering the catastrophe that was showing up to the shelter late yesterday, and decided to skedadle away.

The hike to the shelter was very pretty. It was basically a cliff walk up me around the highest mountain in the park, then down the valley a bit and back up the other side. I know I’ve said a bit about being “bored” of the scenery in Virginia, but don’t think that that means it’s not pretty. I’ve just been seeing it for a month, so I’m cynical. It’s still GORGEOUS. And I’m sure i’ll miss it when we get into Pennsylvania and all you see is rocks and highways.

See? Very pretty!

I got to camp around 4:30. Did I watch some frisbee? Potentially. Whose to say 🤷‍♂️. Honestly, I didn’t feel that guilty about it. Which is progress, because I feel like a couple weeks ago I would’ve been guilty about using my phone out here. But yknow what? I wanted to watch, so I did. After that, I cooked dinner and headed to bed.

Another very good day today. As much as I really do enjoy the big mile days, and physically challenging myself, the mental floss days are quite fun as well. It’s always nice to be able to catch up with people for a while. I also had a conversation with another thru hiker today about approaches to the trail and all that.

He did a lot of things that I told him “I wish I could do that.” And he said that he would prefer if he could do those things my way! It’s funny isn’t it. Something something grass is always greener something something. Anyway, I think that helped me a lot. It was nice to hear from someone else “Man, I wish i could do it your way!”

Quote of the day: “Dog what the hell happened to your feet”

Today I am thankful for the stony man breakfast, zoom, and Guinness.

Day 71:

Well, it looks like I’ve officially become an early morning person. Gross. I woke up at like 6:15, but still waited around until like 6:45 before I actually got up. It was a very cozy night of sleep, we had thunderstorms roll through, which I always love to sleep through in a tent. But anyway, suffice to say, everything was damp. Despite my getting up early, Lindsey got up earlier to catch the early morning views on Mary’s Rock, so she was gone. After a breakfast bolstered by an apple (a treat), I was under way around 7:15.

It was a pretty decent day, about 18.5 miles. Or so I thought. But we’ll get to that. The early morning continued along the same ridge line I finished the day on yesterday. It’s a weird type of ridge walking out here. Most of the time you walk on a ridge, it’s either steep down on both sides, or a steep down on one side and steep up on the other. But this is steep down on one side and like rolling hills type stuff the other way? It’s interesting. Not like anything I’ve ever walked before.

Anyway, after a little while I walked down off the ridge, and crossed Skyline Drive for the bajillionth time in this park. This is when I realized I’m moving faster that I expected. I had gone like 3.5 miles in about an hour. Not a pace I was gonna stay at, but it was still pretty surprising. Anyway, if I’ve learned anything out here, it’s that after you walk down to a highway, you have to walk up another mountain immediately after. That was true today too, although the climb wasn’t bad.

The far side of the mountain I was climbing was covered with burn scar. I can’t really tell how long ago it burned, but I could still smell ash in the air, so I feel like it had to be recent enough? But not so recent, because the understory is rich with ferns, and other early successional species. I also saw a surprising amount of people out there this morning, until I realized it was memorial day and everyone was off of work. Kinda weird to think that my day to day is like a special occasion for some people. Makes me pretty grateful for it.

I also found a turtle on the top of the mountain. I think he was hiking north with me, but I moved him out of the trail so he didn’t get hurt. Hopefully that doesn’t set his hike back too far. Also, he didn’t pee on me, which is an improvement from the last time I picked up a turtle (shoutout Pissy though, good times).

At around 11, I stopped at what I had thought was gonna be my side quest for the day. There was a Wayside about 12 miles in, where I was planning to stop for a hot lunch and maybe some snack. Unfortunately when I got there, turns out the had lost power??? So no dice there. I’m pretty sure that the generator they ordered showed up literally as I was leaving, which was annoying, but to make up for it, I found a lunch spot with a view a few miles later. It almost made the peanut butter tortilla taste like a good sandwich. And I had a spare poptart as a little treat!

The rest of the day whizzed by. Rolling hills are coming on this side of the park, so it’s lots of small ups and downs, punctuated by some decent views. This park isn’t the “grandiose” type national park, but it is still very pretty. A national park is a national park after all. The highlight of the afternoon was probably scaling Hogback Mountain, where I was up into a cloud and then walked through it for about 30 minutes. It was cool, damp and refreshing.

Again, “decent” views

I got to the shelter at around 2. Yep. 2 o’clock PM. And I was done for the day. I almost ALMOST considered walking the 10.5 miles to the next shelter, but decided against it. So I went down to the shelter and met Lindsey, who had been there like an hour. There was a pretty big group there, no one we knew but they were all very nice.

The excitement for the afternoon came when we found a snake about 6 inches from the water source. I’m pretty sure it was a copperhead, but there was also some suggestion that it may be an eastern water snake? I can’t say I’m an expert but no one was taking any chances either. I’ll let you guys be the judge.

Thunder started rumbling around 6:30, so I climbed into my tent a little prematurely to get out of the rain. The rain never came lol but I had a nice time hanging out in my tent. I do enjoy this little nook, even if it’s a tiny bit short and smells like worn socks (it’s GROSS y’all).

Another pretty good day today! It’s kinda weird to be consistently hiking in my own, especially since me and Lindsey are traveling together, but I think this rhythm is really working for us. At first I wasn’t thrilled about stopping so early, but it was ok all in all. Would I have gone on? Probably. But I wasn’t super upset about stopping. I’m definitely feeling ready to leave Virginia. We’ve been here a LONG time. And we’re quickly closing in on the half way mark! Holy SHIT.

Quote of the day: “Dude how the hell did you miss the wolf spider in there?”

Today I am grateful for REI, poptarts, and Kona Brewing Company

Day 72:

Well it was a short day today, but I still woke up at 6:15 for some reason. I went over to the shelter for breakfast, where I immediately got told a story about how Lindsey yelled “Oh HELL NO” at a rat that fell next to her during the night. I was not told this by Lindsey, of course, she was already gone, but that just made it funnier. Anyway after that hilarity it was time to get going for the day.

The plan for the day was simple. Walk 14 miles, go into town, walk 5 more miles. Easy stuff, right? Well it started out easy enough. There was a short climb in the morning that I had to finish out from the night before, but it was nothing too bad. It also had some very pretty views, which are some of the last we were gonna have in Shenandoah, and honestly probably our last views off of some mountains in a while, so I made sure to take them in.

I officially left Shenandoah at 10:45. What a journey this has been. A totally different experience than our last national park, which was so remote and wild feeling. Shenandoah actually feels like one of the least remote parts of the trail so far, which I guess was kind of nice in a way. It was definitely a change of pace. Anyway, the trail celebrated in the only way it new how: by immediately sending my down a sheer, rocky hill. What fun that was.

It was closing in on 12:30 when I approached the road intersection where I needed to find a ride into Front Royal. I would’ve been there faster, but I accidentally followed the wrong trail for like half a mile before I noticed, so that slowed me down somewhat. Always check for blazes kids. I got to the road, and decided to make a quick detour to pick up a box I had had shipped to a hostel close by. I figured it would be easier to catch a ride from there than from some random point in the road, and if I got the box, I would know what food I needed.

I was right about the ride! As I walked up, one of the owners was pulling out to give some people a lift into town. I asked if I could tag along, and she very kindly let me. She put a towel down on the seat first because “you haven’t showered yet.” Which is a fair point I suppose, it has been nearly 200 miles since I showered.

We got into town quickly, and I immediately went to the grocery store to pick up some food. Afterwards, I headed to the outfitter, which had free laundry and showers, so I got cleaned up as best I could and put my clothes in to wash. While that was going I wandered around town. Front Royal is a pretty little town, I very much enjoyed it. I found an arcade that was all you can play for 10 bucks, which was SWEET. I wish I had found it earlier, cause I could only spend about half an hour there before me and Lindsey headed back to the trail.

The rest of the day was pretty easy. Only like 4.5 more miles, on pretty flat terrain. As much as I enjoy hiking alone, it was nice to hike with Lindsey again. I think not being together 24/7 gives us more to talk about, instead of just walking in silence for hours. Which is definitely nice, even though sometimes just existing in the same space as someone is also quite nice. We got to the shelter around 7:30. It started pouring when I set up my tent, and lasted for exactly the time it took me to set up, then stopped. How nice. After that, it was eat, fill water, and good night.

One of the conversations we had on our way to the shelter was about the people we meet out here who aren’t really enjoying the trail, and whether or not they are gonna find fulfillment if/when they finish. We weren’t talking about people who are kinda grouchy, but clearly like it here. There are people who straight up hate it out here, and say as much. Lindsey thinks that’s crazy, to keep putting yourself through this if you hate it. I agreed, to an extent, but I also think there’s something admirable about saying “I started this thing, and Im gonna finish it even if I hate it.” To a point, of course. You don’t want to burn yourself out and be miserable all the time, as Lindsey pointed out.

Tomorrow is gonna be the first time that Lindsey and I spend a night in different places on trail. She’s going to see her old research lab, and I’m just pushing on a little bit to another shelter. It’s not a permanent split, we’re meeting up the next day, but it’s still gonna be interesting to dissect the feelings going on there. It also got me thinking again about all the people that we’ve met on trail who we’ve separated from and haven’t seen in forever. There are so many people who I feel like I really got close with, even if only for a couple weeks, who I just walked away from and haven’t seen since. I wonder how they’re doing. I wonder if I had as much impact on them as some of the had on me.

Quote of the day: “This Dr. Peepee is burning a hole in my pocket”

Today I am grateful for laundry, loaner clothes, and arcade games

Day 73:

What a FREAKIN day oh boy. Where to begin. Well, let’s start at 7:15, when I finally got off my lazy butt, rolled out of my tent, packed up, and ate breakfast. A relatively quick procedure at this point, which meant I still got out by 7:30. It was gonna be a long day, so I needed to hit the road.

The morning was relatively uneventful. It was a relatively flat walk through the forest, what else. I’m really trying to find more cool words to describe these things but to be so honest, at this point I’ve run out. It’s been a month, give me some leeway. But anyway, I spent the morning walking down to the crossing of Route 66, where I had originally planned to meet some family. Unfortunately it became clear that I was gonna get there too early, so they couldn’t come out. It sucks, but an hour drive to make it by 8:30 in the morning wouldn’t have been worth it in the slightest. So, I kept on.

After the I66 crossing what where the fun started. Out of LITERALLY NOWHERE there was a loud boom of thunder, and the sky got insanely dark. I had about enough time to think “ah shit” before it started POURING on me. Guess the out of now where summer thunderstorms got here a little early. So, I raced to get on my rain cover and rain jacket, although I was still fairly wet by the time I got it all on. With that, I proceeded down the now mud covered trail.

It rained for about an hour, by which time I had crossed into Sky Meadows State Park. Sky Meadows is pretty cool, and although I didn’t see too much of the park, it offered a nice change of scenery to open ish fields of tall grass. I reached a trail crossing with a bench around 12:30, and I figured, hey there’s a bench, might as well have lunch. So I did!

The lunch bench!

Around 2:30 I reached Ashby Gap, and crossed another highway (I don’t know which one). Ashby Gap marked a pretty interesting milestone. What’s that you ask? Well, it officially means this is gonna be the first day on trail where I don’t see Lindsey at all. She got off at Ashby to visit some friends at a research center nearby, where she’s spending the night. We’re meeting up tomorrow, so it’s nothing crazy, but it’s still a little strange. Anyway, I couldn’t think about it too long. I had a lot more miles to do, and the sky was getting suspiciously dark again.

My suspicion was confirmed a short while later when it did, in fact, start pouring again. And just as I was about to get dry again, of course. But on I trudged, until I literally almost stepped on top of a copperhead. Holy fuckin shit. They were just sitting right in the middle of the trail. I was about a foot from them when I saw. That would’ve been BAD. But I managed to skirt around, as the trail was plenty wide. Disaster avoided.

About an hour and a half later, the real fun began. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the roller coaster. What’s the roller coaster you ask? Well, it’s a rather infamous 13.5 mile section of Virginia that simply goes up and down and up and down every mile or so. It’s kinda brutal. No climb is particularly steep, but after a while they start to wear on you. And I had 7 miles of it to do before I got to camp. Did I mention I was about 19 miles in to today? L M F A O.

And so I started. Up and down and up and down and up and down. And up and down. It did not help at all that the trail was particularly rocky, so it was pretty slow going. When it wasn’t rocky, it was muddy, which didn’t make me much faster. And so the rest of the day went. I did almost step on a baby copperhead again, which was also terrifying. I’m like not super sure they could’ve bit me, but they sure TRIED as I stepped around. Definitely made my heart jump.

This is always a fun thing to read

About an hour before the end of the day, I hit a really really big milestone. I have officially walked 1000 miles from Springer. I hit quadruple digits! Holy smokes! Absolute insanity. I honestly can’t really comprehend how far that is, but I know it’s a very big number. And it’s only taken like 2 months??? Which is absolutely crazy. We’re flying now, and the miles are too. It’s absolutely nuts.

1000 miles!

Getting to camp without Lindsey being there was definitely a little weird, but I went through the usual routine. Dinner, tent, water, etc. And then I crawled into bed. Everything’s a little damp from the rain, but we’re going to a hostel tomorrow anyway, so it’ll be fine. I can dry off there.

Apart from the rain and venomous snakes trying to kill me, it was a pretty fun day. I definitely stretched myself in terms of miles, but I kinda wanted to see what I could do. and I hit 25 miles in about 11 hours, which feels pretty good considering the fucking rollercoaster in the afternoon. It’s definitely weird being at camp without Lindsey. There’s a bunch of people here, but honestly I’m too tired to go over and make friends. It’s nice to have someone you know to talk to in days like this. I think that’s part of what worries me about splitting up. I don’t know if I’d really go talk to people. But maybe it would give me a chance to work on that? I don’t know. I don’t know what’s gonna happen, and honestly I’m not really worried about it. It’ll be what it’ll be, and I’ll figure it out when it comes.

I don’t have a quote of the day, to be honest. I didn’t see a soul on trail and like I said, I didn’t talk to anyone at the shelter. Id feel weird quoting some weird thing I said to myself on the trail. But maybe that would be funnier 🤷‍♂️

Today I am grateful for rain covers, good vision, and that I only have to do 3 miles tomorrow!

Day 74+75:

I’m not gonna lie, I totally forgot to journal these two days. So i’m doing a quick summary about 3 minutes before I post.

I walked 3 miles day 75, and then took the rest of the day and the next day off. I did basically nothing except sit around, eat good food, and rest. Oh, and watch lord of the rings! Only got through a little, but still worth it. We had some friends come visit us last night (day 76), which was really really great to see them! Back on the road this morning!

Sorry that this isn’t an in depth update for the day, but that’s all I got!

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Comments 1

  • .com : Jun 2nd

    Those copperheads…apparently the young snakes’ bite can be worse than the older snakes…like the babies can’t control the bite & venom. The older snakes can bite but first bite is less venom, like giving a warning.
    Not always so be sure to watch your step…VT & north no bad poisonous snakes.


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