Day 63 & 64
Nearo and zero in Daleville, VA.
We have officially completed one third of the trail. It is unbelievable to think we have gotten this far. So many hikers have gotten off trail recently due to injuries and many are not getting back on. I think we’ve done a great job taking care of ourselves. We listen to our bodies and rest when we need to. Even though I felt guilty about taking a zero in Daleville, my body was very appreciative. We did absolutely nothing all day and I LOVED it! We busted out a 19 mile day today and I am so proud of our progress, as well as how good my body feels. Of course my feet are sore each and every day but I am so thankful to be injury free.
I couldn’t sleep last night so my 5a alarm came way too soon. I was glad to leave our camp spot though. The area was not big enough for 4 tents and I felt like a sardine. We hiked a total of 22.4 miles today. The first 13 were nice. Gradual inclines and declines, but the last 10 miles were torture. Steep uphills, rocks and more steep uphills. We are currently camped over 4,000 feet near the FAA tower on Apple Orchard Mountain. I was so ready to get to camp and plop on my sleeping pad. I didn’t even want to eat dinner even though I was starving, but I did. Now I’m relaxing in our “home”, rubbing my tired and calloused feet. My poor feet. By the time I reach that sign on Katahdin, I’ll be so embarrassed to get a pedicure.
I found 2 ticks on me today and now I’m totally grossed out. John found 2 on his legs prior to today but I didn’t give it much thought because I wasn’t the one with bugs sucking my blood. Now I’m terrified. I thought the mosquitos, gnats and flies were bad. Ticks can make you sick. Ticks are disgusting. Before finding the nasty things on me, I was having a pretty good day. We are about 25 miles from our next resupply spot and about 75 miles from the next town that we will be able to shower. I could really use a long, hot shower right about now.
I found another tick on me during our lunch break and did a thorough inspection while changing into my sleep clothes. My mom told me to check my scalp but I’m not really sure what to feel for. Oh, and were you aware that you needed to check your ummm “private” areas?? Omg my nightly inspection will take an hour of my time! Anyway, we passed the 800 mile mark today. That’s something to be excited about. Tomorrow we have to find a hitch into a town to resupply and then a hitch back to the trail. I’m really hoping that goes well. I’ve also heard the weather is supposed to take a turn for the worse beginning tomorrow afternoon and rain is in the forecast for several days. Keeping my fingers crossed the rain will hold out until we get to Waynesboro.
We went to sleep really early but I kept waking up. I’ve been listening to an audiobook and the story line is a bit terrifying and is apparently giving me nightmares. So despite falling asleep early, I did not have a very restful night. I woke up weak and tired. Not wanting to hike in the least bit. We only had less than 2 miles to the road and got a hitch into Buena Vista to resupply. Our chores took all day. Charging our electronics takes up the most amount of time. We sat in the local library for hours waiting for everything to charge. Finally, we ate lunch, resupplied and got back on the trail by 4:30p. I was surprised how quickly we were able to get hitches today. I guess we don’t look too hiker trash after all. When we got back on trail, we only went a few more miles but oh my, the mountain we climbed was beautiful. It looked like it was covered in bright green, shag carpet. I know that may not seem appealing but believe me, it was the most gorgeous shag carpet I’ve ever seen.
You wouldn’t think the hiking the AT could get lonely, but it does. Although I’m hiking with my boyfriend, I do long for other social interaction, especially with women. Of course we’ve made friends with other hikers but at this point in time, those groups are either a day or so ahead or behind. I really thought we’d have a tight knit tramily by now but the groups we spend time with are constantly changing. John, my boyfriend, said he doesn’t feel the same loneliness that I do. He’s happy with the ever changing groups that we interact with for a few days at a time. Anyway, we completed over 21 miles today, hiking over Priest Mountain. It was fun reading all the confessions in the log book at the Priest Mountain Shelter, but what wasn’t fun was the descent.
Rain, rain, go away! It poured on us yesterday and we experienced even more today. After a 6 mile ascent that never seemed to end, we decided that we would hike 5 more miles to a gap that would take us to Devil’s Backbone Brewery. We were cold, hungry and sick of being wet. Luckily for us, Moosejaw, a company that specializes in outdoor/backpacking gear, was offering free shuttles to the brewery. We happily piled into the car and headed towards free tent sites, free showers, delicious food (including a ginormous sundae I polished off myself) and awesome beer. I’m so glad we made the decision to get off trail today. My spirits have been low lately and this was a welcomed escape. We only have 19 miles to Waynesboro so after a $5 breakfast tomorrow morning, we are headed back to the trail.
We got back on the trail around 10a hoping to get as close to Waynesboro as possible. We ended up camping at the shelter about 5 miles away. According to comments in Guthook, there are no stealth sites between this shelter and town so we are stuck here. It rained all day. Most of our gear is soaked and has been for a few days. I’d really like to nearo AND zero when we get to town but I’ll have to convince my boyfriend. Taking more time off means spending more money and we are trying not to over indulge. Sometimes I feel like a nearo isn’t enough time off to relax and get all our chores done. I don’t know. Guess we’ll see once we get to the hotel.
Nearo in Waynesboro.
Zero in Waynesboro.
I was so excited this morning when I woke up to see the sun shining bright. It’s been raining for close to a week and I was having serious sunshine withdrawal. Not to mention our gear and clothes could never dry out so some time off the trail was greatly needed. We started Shenandoah today and actually linked up with another hiker Fotos, whom I had met the previous day while doing laundry. We also hiked a bit with another hiker named Smiley. Both are really good company. We completed a 20.7 day and hope to smash 21 miles tomorrow.
Before we started our hike, we met with a 2018 thru hiker, Scoutmaster. He told us it never gets easier, you just do more miles. God, he was right. We hiked 21 today and are planning 24 tomorrow. Every climb is still hard but now we just climb more with each passing day. Our bodies have definitely adapted to the grueling 10 to 12 hour days of endless hiking, but pain is still there at the end of each day. My feet throb and burn, my shoulders ache and my calves are tender to touch. I wish I could say that eventually all of this will go away, but I know it won’t. I know that I will feel like this every single day of my thru hike. Today we hit the 900 mile mark….and right now I’m rubbing my feet. That’s a lot of miles.
Today was one of my favorite days on trail. We hooked back up with our friend, Fotos, and put in a solid 20 mile day to the Big Meadows Lodge. We were planning on splitting the $20 campsite fee but the ranger waived the fee since we were thru hiking. After setting up camp, we hurried to the pub for some warm food, beer and the famous blackberry pie. The evening was awesome. Good company and good food after putting in a 20 mile day. I’m in our tent now and even though my feet ache and my legs are stiff, I’m so excited to see what tomorrow will bring.
The day started off very chilly and windy. I even wore my raincoat and pants for the first part of the day. Finally it warmed up and turned out to be an amazing day. One of our YouTube subscribers met us at a gap with trail magic. They had everything from fruit to drinks to meatball subs. We talked and relaxed a bit. It was just what we needed to finish out our 19 mile day. I still can’t believe how generous and kind people are out here.
I am exhausted. We planned on a 20 mile day but when we arrived at the campsite, it was completely full. Heartbroken. We had to push on another 4 miles. When we finally arrived at the shelter close to 9p, the only thing I wanted to do was remove my shoes immediately. My feet were done. Today was also our last day in Shenandoah. I am sad to be leaving the park and the conveniently placed restaurants and stores, but it will be nice to get back on a less crowded trail.