I would (did) walk 728.1 miles, and I would (will) walk 1462.2 more.
We’re making it, blog followers!
I know we haven’t been posting as much as we had originally hoped, but it is so easy to unplug on the trail and we’re really enjoying having no obligations or schedule out here – apparently that can be reflected in our minimal blog posting. (also – I do usually manage to throw a picture up on instagram about once a week – follow me there! : @ashleyrgeorge )
We’re currently in Daleville, VA – right about the 1/3 mark, mileage wise. We’re really proud of ourselves and are double-zeroing (not hiking for 2 days) to celebrate. We decided 33% was a great time to take a break, for both our bodies and minds.
speaking of minds, let me tell you about something :
When I was researching the trail I read a lot about a phenomenon called “the Virginia blues”. Reading about it, I understood it as a frustration with traveling through the same state with no state crossings for 550ish miles. I didn’t really understand what the big deal was, mileage progress is progress – state crossings or not.
What I understand now is that “the Virgina blues” set in because the honeymoon is over. You are really in it, you are a thru-hiker, and you still have a long way to go. The days of constant rain and 45 degree temperatures (in MAY) are no longer “a new adventure!” and are now “a giant pain in butt and I don’t have gloves anymore!”.
Most days out here are really beautiful and full of new experiences and sights – but a few days suck and I cry at Zach in the rain after my third fall of the day on a rock face.
So, in response to the Virgina blues – we decided a few days off trail in a cushy hotel with unlimited showers and a king bed and free hot breakfast was what our spirits needed. I keep coming back to some advice given to us during our early time off trail in Hiawassee due to sub-zero temperatures – “whatever keeps you on the trail”. Right now epsom salt baths & this hotel room are doing just that.
While this post might sound a bit negative – DO NOT get me wrong, we love being out here. We are getting stronger, we are so proud of ourselves, and something great happens everyday. I’m using the rest of this post to list some of the highlights and add some pictures so you guys can see how great we have it 95% of the time :
- Trail magic is still the most exciting and fun thing that happens out here. We found cold beers on Big Bald, met SO many former thru-hikers having a cookout in Tennessee, happened upon a mom and her son with Gatorades & little Debbie’s at a random gap on a weekday, and met Patches (a former thru hiker with fruit & Oreos) on the way up to McAfee Knob. We feel so lucky that people want to help us, or just make our day better.
- We have the most amazing little trail family – Lumberjack & Adele have been the best company out here. We’ve been hiking with Lumberjack since the very first day – and have just been seperated from her so she can go walk in her college graduation, because she’s amazing. We’re excited to be reunited with her & Adele & Twinkle Toes/Drankles & LadyPants etc after this wonderful rest.
- We got to see wild ponies in Grayson Highlands! We loved the stretch from Damascus, Va through the Highlands to Bland, Va and the ponies were definitely a huge highlight.
- Jill and Seth! My grandma found a connection through a cousin to a family in Bland, VA that was willing to help us in any way we needed. After our longest day (22 miles!) they picked us up and took us into town for a motel stay and food and brought us back in the morning – which was such a huge deal. Not worrying about a ride into town is one of the greatest joys out here. They did it with such kindness and selflessness – it was SO appreciated. We are forever grateful to them.
- I’ve lost 28 pounds (as of a couple weeks ago!) which is the weight of my pack. Turns out eating a lot of honeybuns and walking (read: sweating a bunch) is the perfect storm for weight loss. I feel really proud of this, and continue to feel stronger and more capable everyday.
- Woods Hole Hostel at mile 623 was such a fun and refreshing experience. I would suggest a stay there to anyone on the AT. The bunkhouse is super comfortable & the intentionality that Neville and Michael run their hostel with is incredible. Their home-cooked communal meals are not to be missed, especially breakfast.
- We hit McAfee Knob on a beautiful day, which happened to be Mothers Day. It was crowded, but so incredibly beautiful, and honestly neat to see so many families out for a Mother’s Day hike together. I really wished we could have been there with our moms.
- Right after Mcafee was Tinker Cliffs, a .5 mile cliff walk. Somehow we got turned around and got off trail and walked around the cliffs instead. It was our first time getting off the path in that way, and after a little arguing and apologizing we got back on trail and backtracked up the cliffs. We were treated to breathtaking views in the evening sun – even a frustrating detour is made up for in a huge way.
- We still just feel so lucky that we get to be out here – enjoying this country, figuring out what we find important and getting to do it all together.
We’re back out on the trail tomorrow & have plans to be in Waynesboro, VA to see our best friends on Memorial Day weekend – we’ll check in soon!
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