About the Author: Pat-Rice Z is a Jersey girl who has relocated to the DC area. She is a 2019 AT Thru-Hike hopeful who is considering going NOBO or leapfrogging, however the adventure unfolds. You can find her on Instagram @halfway_to_the_sky.

To see all of Patrice’s posts, click her name above!

Week 13: June 25-July 1

Leaving Shenandoah meant that my tramily and I would soon be leaving Virginia. Oh Virginia, it took us about five-six weeks to traverse the state and I feel like a totally different person from Damascus to now. As we left the park we happened upon a snake in the middle of the trail (who lashed three times at me), blackberries (or black raspberries not sure), and trail magic (there is nothing like a nice cold Coca-Cola)! My tramily decided that we needed a bit of a break so we decided to spend the night in Front Royal. My now tramily of four successfully hitched into and out of town without a problem and enjoyed our nearo with visits to the grocery store, Mexican restaurant, McDonalds, and Dunkin Donuts. To top it off we watched Toy Story 4! We stayed up well past hiker midnight to see the new Pixar release and it was worth it. One of the new characters is named Forky and when we were at McDonalds we got a Forky in our happy meals so we now officially have a new trail mascot. 

We spent the last couple days of VA at the nicest shelters I have stayed at yet. PATC is very active in trail maintenance and the shelters had swings, horseshoes, Adirondack chairs, and the cleanest bathrooms ever. One of them even smelled like bleach! The only downside was that around these shelters, my personal tick count went up to four. I have pulled two ticks off my permethrin treated clothes, and two off my leg- one of which had just started to dig into my flesh. I have to say that it is easier to feel the ticks crawling up my hairy legs so hairy legs are here to stay. 

Before entering WV we stopped at Bear Chase Brewery. Last time I hiked this section of AT, I had stopped at this brewery for lunch, so I wanted to come back. This is the first place along the entire AT where I felt completely anonymous. Usually we frequent high hiker population areas. I don’t think a single person there knew our story. It was fun to people watch, everyone was dressed in their best summer outfits. When we first got there I thought to myself, “how nice it would be to be back in that life where I was content with the daily 9-5.” These feelings don’t last for long though, I quickly remembered why I wanted to hike the AT in the first place. And after a delicious pizza and sour beer, I was ready to get back on the trail.

Immediately after crossing into WV we ran into a pair of hikers who were hiking with their Blue McCaw. They told us that they want to hike the AT in three sections with the bird! The trail in WV evened out which was a blessing after the roller coaster that VA departed us with. This new terrain was perfect for singing John Denver. 

I bounded into Harper’s Ferry with a huge smile on my face, I felt like crying tears of joy. I was finally here! I wasn’t sure if I would make it but I’m here!! We found our way to the ATC, got our pictures taken, got resupply and ate way way too much food and then decided to stay the night in a hotel. Weather called for thunder and it was late. We called an Uber and when it arrived we were pleasantly surprised to find a suped-up Jeep! It was the coolest Uber ride ever. We finished the night swimming in our underwear (tastefully) in the hotel pool and enjoyed a night without rain on our heads. 

People promised us that VA would be flat, it was not. Maryland however…has some pretty flat spots. It is like all my VA dreams came true! Maryland is a very pleasant state and the trail wraps around some areas that are steeped in history like the Gathland State Park and original George Washington Monument. The Trail Magic hasn’t stopped either! We got double trail magic last week (two different people set up at the same place) and there has been sodas at most major road crossings. 

Story time! 

The Sarah Saga continues…

At the first shelter north of Wayah Bald, someone tagged the shelter with over 10 Sarah quotes, they go as follows:

“Sarah come back to me.”

“Sarah I still love you.”

“Sarah I will never forget you.”

And my personal favorite 

“Sarah, I am an empty shell of a man without you.”

I believe that other hikers found these quotes just as hilarious because as I read the registers people will add funny Sarah quotes. “I can tell you what Sarah looks like.” “Sarah isn’t worth it dude.” “I’ll never get over Sarah.” Some of these quotes still make it to shelter and privy walls (people should stop vandalizing the beautiful structures made by the hard working trail volunteers and keep their tags in the shelter registers but I digress)…

Tonight I found a new one.

“Sarah told me back when we were dating that her exes were still stuck on her.”

Whenever I come across a Sarah quote I cannot help but burst out laughing. A little trail humor that only a thru-hiker could understand because we have witnessed the progression of Sarah quotes from the beginning. Oh Sarah. 

Happy Trails!

-Drop Sticks (aka Pat-Rice)