The Appalachian Trail in Virginia: Part 1

Trail Day: 45

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

  • Location: Wise Shelter, Greyson Highlands State Park
  • Start/End Time: ?
  • Weather Conditions: Kinda sunny, kinda rainy, kinda cold

I’m so glad we stayed at this campsite. It was so lovely to have it all to ourselves, drink some wine, and I really loved having Will around.

We were all up early and so ready for diner food. While Iris, Will, and I had already been to the Damascus Diner Hoagie had not and she LOVES breakfast food! We thought they opened at 7, but they didn’t really open until 8. The 3 ladies all headed over to the public park to use the bathroom and Will bikes around town. Getting to use a real toilet is always a treat for a hiker, even a public one.

Once the Diner opened we were the first ones through the door. Everyone ordered nice big breakfasts. I got a pancake, bacon, and the cheesy hash brown casserole with a big cup of hot tea. 

While we were there Green and Flaming Hot walked in and came to say hi. We hadn’t seen them in a while, so it was great to see their faces.

After breakfast Hoagie decided to hike the trail from Damascus and Iris, who’s ankle was bugging her, came with me to urgent care with me so she could rest.

Will wanted to bike the entire Virginia Creeper Trail end to end so we dropped him off at the beginning in Abingdon, not too far from urgent care.

In my experience, urgent care takes forever, but to my surprise I was 1 of 2 people in the waiting room. Within 10 minutes I was in an exam room and 10 minutes after that the doctor came in. She sees hikers all the time because of the location of the clinic and ordered an x-ray to ensure I didn’t have a stress fracture and a few other concerns for hikers.

Luckily, I do not have a stress fracture in my tibia! I’ve been told that I need to rest for about a week, and when I get back on trail to start with lower miles and slowly build up again. If I don’t do this I could get injured and might have to end my hike.

Iris and I went to Walmart, which I hate, but was the only option close by to pick up my prescription. We also got a big box of wine to share over the next 2 days.

From there we drove to the end of Virginia Creeper Trail to pick up Sweet William. We were right on time, loaded him and his bike in the car and set off to Greyson Highlands State Park.

The park is known for its wild ponies! We’ll be hanging out here for the next couple of days in hopes to see (and hopefully pet!) the ponies!

With a backpacker parking permit in hand we loaded up our packs (don’t worry mine is very light and we only did 2 very easy miles) and walked the gradual trail to the Wise Shelter. 

It was rainy, a bit windy, and foggy. Sadly, we did not see any ponies, but did see lots of evidence of said ponies. Upon arrival at the Wise Shelter there was fresh pony poop everywhere, we had just missed them according to another hiker that was already there. So bummed!

With no fires allowed at the shelter and my fuel canister completely empty my Diner was Smartfood Popcorn, Mini Eggs, and baby food. For dessert I had a very larger glass of red wine and a XL Mr. Goodbar.

Tomorrow we’ll do a little hike, without full packs to try and find the ponies.

With any luck I’ll find some service so I can book a some lodging for about 5 days starting Friday night so I can rest and recover. It’s a bummer to have to get off trail, but once I’m feeling better I’ll get back on and continue my journey north. 

The most disappointing part of the whole thing is that I’ll most likely be parting ways with Seal Team 3. I don’t want to skip a huge chunk of the trail and have to come back and finish it. A few miles here and there don’t bother me, but by the time I get back out here they’ll be at least 100 miles ahead of me and I don’t know if I want to miss that much of the trail. Plus, as much as I love hiking with them they’re able to crush some serious miles, and I can’t physically keep up with them. This decision might change, but we shall see how everything turns out.

Trail Day: 46

Thursday, May 6, 2021

  • Location: Wise Shelter, Greyson Highlands State Park
  • Start/End Time: 
  • Weather Conditions: Partly sunny

I woke up early and climbed into Will’s tent to cuddle. We where all snuggly for about 15-20 minutes when we heard a bunch of sticks breaking on the opposite side of his tent. I jokingly said, “It’s a pony!” Then I peaked my head out of the tent and it was a pony!

Immediately, I got up and grabbed my phone so I could take some photos. This pony was a female and she was very pregnant. I was secretly hoping she’d go in labor and we could see a new baby, but that didn’t happen.

She walked around the campsite and shelter area nibbling on grass and eventually made her way over to the shelter. She stood, head facing into the shelter, for about 10 minutes clearly waiting for some one to feed her. Since the ponies are wild there are signs everywhere in the park that ask visitors not to feed the ponies. Many people still do.

A smaller pony showed up too and the two nuzzled each other. I was so happy to have these ponies show up! My day was completely made.

A few hours later, because I had a super lazy morning, Will and I walked back to the car. I needed to get some cell service so I could figure out where I was going to stay while I rest my legs/shins for several more days. Luckily, we didn’t need to leave the park.

The plan is to stay at the Troutdale Baptist Church Hiker Hostel for 2 nights, then head down the street to the Sufi Lodge for an additional 2 nights. I’m really excited for the Sufi Lodge as I’m getting a massage while I’m there thanks to my amazing support crew. I’m using the money they gave me for my birthday!

Once I was all set and my mind was at ease we went for a hike SOBO on the AT to try and see more ponies. We saw so many! Will said he was, “ponies out,” but I disagree. I could have seen more ponies and been really happy. We even got to see a baby!

Will decided to do some more hiking, but I needed to head back to camp and rest.

Upon arrival back at camp I heard a familiar laugh and it was Tio Jack, who I hadn’t seen in about a week! I was so excited to see him! Hoagie had arrived too. Iris, Hoagie, and Tio Jack had all been drinking and having a great time. I filled my cup with some wine too and joined the party.

Slowly, more and more people starting showing up and before we knew it the shelter and campsite where full.

The rest of the night was spent around the campsite sipping wine, eating, and laughing. Will got to meet a bunch of other hikers I’ve been spending time with and get the feel of what life is like on the trail.

In the morning, Hoagie, Will, and I are hiking out to the car. Will is taking Hoagie north for her sister’s wedding and I’m going to rest. Iris is going to keep hiking and meet up with us next week.

Trail Day: 47

Friday, May 7, 2021

  • Location: Troutdale Baptist Church Hiker Hostel
  • Start/End Time: 
  • Weather Conditions: Rain, hale, and wind

I woke up to rain falling on my tent and the sound of Will aggravated by said rain. I packed my gear and when I got out to take my tent down I found that Will had already left and Iris was still at camp.

Iris changed her plans and is coming with me to the hostel. I was a little shocked at first because with Will’s bike it was going to be a tough squeeze. 

We hiked down from the Wise shelter to the backpacker parking lot. During that time we went through sunshine, rain, and a little bit of hail. Mother nature just didn’t know what she wanted to do.

After a bit of finagling we were able to fit all four of us in the car before backpacks a bunch of food and Will’s bike.

26 minutes later we arrived at the Troutdale Baptist Church Hiker Hostel. There was no one there to check us in but the doors unlocked so we went inside. Saying goodbye to Will was sad. I don’t know when I’ll get to see him next, it might not be until I get home. While I was challenging to have him here this week because my two worlds are colliding I’m very glad that he was here. I really need his support through all of this. Even though I’m still able to hike it was great to have him here encouraging me to stay rest and keep hiking.

The hostel has 2 bunk rooms with a total of 8 beds, a nice hot shower with everything you need to clean up, and an outdoor kitchen in the pavilion with a microwave and a hot plate.

Once we got settled in Iris and I were talking about our injuries, what that meant, and how we should proceed on the trail. She shared with me that she was considering stopping because of her injury. And I shared my fears about going to hard too fast. We both agree that we need to meet somewhere in the middle for the future if we plan on getting to Maine. I feel like we’re on the same page now and once Hoagie gets back will be able to continue hiking together for the best for the foreseeable future. It makes me happy that Seal Team 3 will still be together.

Later on in the afternoon Phanie showed up! We have t seen her in a while so it was nice to have a familiar face to share the hostel with. We sat around shooting the breeze for a while just relaxing. I elevated my leg and had it wrapped up and it’s definitely starting to feel better.

Mid-afternoon we met Rick and Ross who help maintain the hostel. Ross offered us some leftovers so I had a delicious stew for lunch. It had chicken, meatballs, and sausage in it with a bunch of veggies!

As the day went on even though I had a delicious free lunch I was getting hungry and a little restless being stuck in one place all day. So Phanie and I decided to head down to the road and hitchhike to Sarah’s Fox Creek General Store for dinner. I used my super dancing skills from Roan Mountain to get us a ride within just a few minutes.

For dinner I had chicken marsala and a nice fresh salad. Everything at this place was completely homemade and it showed. Everything in my salad was super fresh and the chicken was spectacular. I have leftovers that I’m going to put in my mashed potatoes tomorrow night for dinner. Desert however was the crown jewel. I had the best brownie sundae that I have ever tasted. The brownie was homemade the ice cream is vanilla and it was top with homemade chocolate ganache. My tummy was very happy.

When we arrived back at the hostel Iris was playing scrabble by herself. The three of us sat down I turned on some music and we played Scrabble together. It was a really close game but in the end I came in first place!

We ended up staying up to around 10 o’clock chatting and hanging out. Phanie told me that she is writing a graphic novel and I’m so fascinated by her process and all the research that she’s doing. I hope one day I’ll be able to read it.

Trail Day: 48

Saturday, May 8, 2021

  • Location: Troutdale Baptist Church Hiker Hostel
  • Start/End Time: 
  • Weather Conditions: Sunny, but windy

While I slept great last night it was frustrating how much my sleeping pad was moving around. I sent my winter sleeping pad home with Will and now I’m using my sea to summit inflatable pad. It’s pretty comfortable, but when I move around it sounds like a chip bag be crinkled. Not sure how long it will last.

Phanie read my tarot cards this morning. She did a two card reading with my greatest strength and greatest weakness on the trail. For my strength I got the 6 of pentacles which means I’m a giver. I give strength and assistance to others.  It it also comes with a warning to not give too much of myself. For my weakness I got the 6 of swords which means I need to take control of my adventure and not let others make decisions for my trip. These are both things that I was well aware of, but this is just further confirmation that I need to make sure I’m taking care of myself and stay focused on the end goal, making it to Katahdin. 

In the morning we did a whole lot of nothing. While I know I need rest, I’m super bored and just want to be back out on trail.

A little before 11 Iris’ friend from when she hiked the AT in 2018, Bubbles came to visit us and brought as allllll the trail magic! She brought flavored seltzer, hummus, naan, pita chips, veggies, pretzels, Raisin Bran, and a bunch of other tasty treats. Bubbles is so lovely. She and I have lots in common and it was so nice of her to bring us all this food.

We all sat outside in the sun for a bit on the grass. Since she brought a cooler I grabbed some of the ice and iced and elevated my shin. My legs is feeling great today! 

We have a new roommate, Heebiegeebie, who ironically is from New Bedford, Massachusetts! I grew up a few towns over from there. It’s such a small work. After her arrival, Bubbles took Iris, Phanie, and HeebeeGeebee to the Dollar General to get some supplies. Since Will and I resupplied in Damascus a few days ago I have plenty of food, so I stayed behind to have some alone time. After 2020, I feel like I’ve forgotten that I’m an introverted-extrovert and need to recharge my batteries sometimes.

The rest of the night was filled with lots of laughing and Phanie getting the trail name, My Friend Vagina. I’m writing this only a few hours after she got the nickname and I can’t even remember how it came about. Sorry.

We played some more Scrabble. I ate A LOT of hummus, and went to bed early.

Trail Day: 49

Sunday, May 9, 2021

  • Location: Sufi Lodge
  • Start/End Time: 
  • Weather Conditions: Partly Cloudy

We got up early so Iris and Heebiegeebie could get over to the Sufi Lodge, where I’m staying for the next 2 nights, and make sure they have a place to stay.

It was just a short walk away and we arrived to 2 labs barking at us. The owner came out and said that they weren’t open until 12, so we where going to sit outside, book their rooms, and use the WiFi for a bit. Then, the owner, James came back out and asked if we wanted to do some work for money off our stay. We all said yes.

Iris and Heebiegeebie went outside to the garden and I went inside to help his wife, Suzanne, clean.

I helped sweep and mop the floors and put  out towels and soap. In total I worked about an hour and a half. I did such a good job Suzanne asked me to help her the following morning in exchange for some CBD balm and free laundry. I accepted.

After we ate breakfast sandwiches that Suzanne cooked I went to my room to relax. Thanks to my friend Bonnie I was able to watch episodes 1 and 2 of the new season of The Handmaids’ Tale on Hulu. This is such a good show and I’m excited to get to watch an episode or 2 each time I’m in a town!

I caught up on some journaling, took a shower, and a nap too.

In the early evening I met Platinum for the first time. Apparently we’ve been hiking around each other for weeks and haven’t met. The trail is so big and so small at the same time! She’s at the lodge resting from shin splints. We sat in the couch getting to know each other while icing and elevating our shins.

She decided to do a wet cupping session with James to help with her shin pain. Cupping was made famous my Micheal Phelps during his last Olympic Games. It helps remove toxins from the body and can reduce swelling and pain.

Wet Cupping is when a small flame is out inside a glass cup and then suctioned to a part of the body. It then draws dead blood cells to the set face of the skin. The cup is removed and lots of small cuts are made on the skin to remove the dead blood cells.

I watched Platinum and then Heebiegeebie get it done. We watched the swelling on Platinum’s shin go down. It was pretty amazing. I decided to give it a try.

It did not enjoy the process, but the little bit of swelling I had did go down. It felt strange the entire time, and the stuff that came out of my body was super gross.

Dinner was amazing! The best Falafel I’ve had since I was in Jordan! It can still taste it.

We ended the night by soaking our feet in epsom salt baths before heading to bed. I’m feeling so relaxed, and glad I came here to rest.

Trail Day: 50

Monday, May 10, 2021

  • Location: Sufi Lodge
  • Start/End Time: 
  • Weather Conditions: Spitting Rain throughout the day

I didn’t do much today, and to be honest I don’t really want to write about my boring day. So here is a list of what I did:

1. Ate breakfast

2. Cleaned the hostel in a work for stay situation

3. Got a massage 

4. Took a shower

5. Ate lunch

6. Watched season 4 episodes 3 and 4 of The Handmaids’ Tale (Thanks Bonnie!)

7. Took a nap

8. Did laundry

9. Ate dinner

10. Made a bunch of video calls to friends

It is worth noting that the vibe at the Sufi Lodge went from really awesome yesterday to really weird today. The amazing healing vibe we all had yesterday became tense and unwelcoming. While James and Suzanne were very nice towards me they said some inappropriate things about race, women, gay people, and they are COVID-deniers. Thankfully, we’ll be leaving in the morning.

Trail Day: 51

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

  • Location: Stealth campsite 
  • Start/End Time: 9:30/3
  • Weather Conditions: Sunny with a light breeze.

Woke up, packed up all my stuff, and ate pancakes for breakfast. It was a nice morning, and then all hell broke loose.

When setting their bill Heebiegeebie and Iris confronted James and Suzanne about how much they owed on their bill and how much they were owed for the work they did the day before. Heebiegeebie brought it up in a very calm way and Suzanne escalated the situation. It is clear that neither party really has an understanding of what was owed to whom and it blew up. There was yelling, Heebiegeebie brought up some things Suzanne had said in conversation the day before about her feelings on black people and white people getting married, and before I knew it they were gone.

The next 20 minutes were very uncomfortable. I didn’t know why to say or do. James and Suzanne tried to put me in the middle of it. They made comments about Heebiegeebie and Iris’ sexually and accused them of stealing from the resupply shop (I can assure they did not.).

Our stay started off so positive and went downhill really fast. It is such a shame that people who want to help hikers heal hold such intensely negative beliefs towards others. Being a straight white girl, the owners of Sufi Lodge were very nice to me, but I wish I had stayed somewhere else. Their racism towards black people and hate towards members of the LGBTQ+ community are unacceptable. Please avoid the Sufi Lodge during your thru hike.

We got back on the trail at Dickey Gap. When I come back I’ll have 63 miles to make up from Low Gap, just before Damascus, to Dickey Gap. Since I’m planning on attending Trail Days in Damascus next year to celebrate teaching Katahdin, it will be really easy to get those miles done.

I kept my pace super slow so I could ease back into hiking. I don’t want to injury myself again. Over the course of the 10.6 miles we did today I felt pretty good. My arches are still getting used to my new inserts and my shin felt pretty good. Towards the end of the day going uphill my hip began to hurt a bit, but it was because we cameled up on water so we didn’t have to hike another 5 miles to get to the shelter that had it. In the future we’re going to try and not do that.

We got to our stealth camp spot by 3pm. It was super boring. At the beginning of this trip 10 mile days where great. Now I’m just getting to camp so early that I’m sitting around. Hopefully within the next few weeks my mileage will be back up around 15-16 a day. I was really comfortable there and wouldn’t mind doing that all the way to Maine.

Trail Day: 52

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

  • Location: Traveler Inn
  • Start/End Time: ?
  • Weather Conditions: Cold, wind, and snow

Today was a crappy day. I have a lot of feelings about today and I’m going to try my best to get them out on the page clearly. I’m sorry if I talk myself in circles.

We had a later start because we waited for the rain to stop before we packed up and began hiking.

It was nice for about 30 minutes and then we got a text from Hoagie that said she was going to continue hiking north because she needed to get more miles done and watch her budget. Writing this now, I respect her decision to hiker her own hike, but in the moment I was really angry. I had organized my last week and a half of hiking around her sister’s wedding and Hoagie wanting to hike with us. I feel like I have the right to be aggravated about this, but at the same time no one was forcing me to make these choices.

Anyway, I rage hiked for about an hour. Rage hiking is when you’re super pissed off and hike way too fast for your own good. I screamed into the void, and hiked out all my feelings. Once I stopped being mad I got sad and cried for a good 30 minutes. Then the pain started, and so did the snow. My hip was killing me. I was in so much pain I could barely walk. And because of wasn’t moving too much I was getting cold. It took me about an hour to do a very flat mile to get to the Partnership Shelter. 

Iris had passed me a little earlier and was waiting for me in her sleeping bag to stay warm at the shelter. We decided after we rested for a bit that because we had sent all our winter clothes home and we were having a crappy day because a member of our trail family ditched us that we were going into town instead of hiking today. Luckily, there is a free shuttle that stops at the Pat Jennings Visitors Center .2 miles from the shelter.

However, we were damn cold, and didn’t want to wait 2 hours for the shuttle, so we went to the road and hitch hiked. It took a good 20 minutes, but we got picked up! The guy drove way too fast and we thought we might die, but we made it to the hotel in one piece.

After we checked in we went to the Mexican restaurant down the street and I ate all my feelings. I had a burrito and a churro sundae. By then, I had calmed down enough to have a conversation about what happened with Iris. The churro sundae really helped. When I’m upset I just need to feel my feelings. It helps me process things and then I’m good. 

Hoagie is my OG Trail Sister. I haven’t met someone I connected with on this level in a long time. Our friendship was so easy and natural. I love being silly with her and enjoyed the trail in similar ways. I miss her already, but respect her decision to hike solo. I’m pulling really low miles and she’s on a budget. I hope I can get my mileage back up again, but even if I do I probably won’t be able to catch her. I’m already 3 or 4 days behind her. Hoagie is a true gem of a human, and if she thinks our friendship is done here she’s kidding herself (don’t worry we’re on the same page about this.)

After lunch, I chilled out in my room for the rest of the day. I probably should have gone to Walmart to resupply, but I’m lazy and know I can do it in Atkins tomorrow. I watched some movies on HBO and caught the new episode of The Handmaids Tale before bed.

I know I haven’t reached the part of the trail known as the Appalachian Roller Coaster, but I sure felt like I was on it today.

Trail Day: 53

Thursday, May 13, 2021

  • Location: Davis Hollow Campsite 
  • Start/End Time: 9/4
  • Weather Conditions: Sunny with a light breeze

Today started off with me saying goodbye (for now at least) to Iris. She has decided to get an x-ray done in her foot as our 4 rest days didn’t make it feel any better. She’s concerned she has a stress fracture.

It took everything I had not to cry when I boarded the shuttle back to the trail, but I did all my crying yesterday about the end of our trail family. I didn’t want to start today in tears.

Luckily, the terrain today was super chill. Very little elevation gain and loss, but everything was beautiful! The big green tunnel is starting to form so most of the day I was hiking in the shade.

Several hikers started at the same

Time as me this morning because we were all on the shuttle together. I had several nice chats with people today making the miles fly by.

I finally finished my audiobook, The Book of Life, and will be starting a new book tomorrow. Not sure which one yet.

The highlight of my day today was stopping at the Settlers Museum, located right on the trail. While the museum isn’t open due to COVID-19, I wandered around the property taking photos. The old Lindamood Schoolhouse was open. Apparently, hikers can stay inside! I wish I had known that as I would have planned accordingly.

I stopped in Atkins today as we walk right through an area with a restaurant and a gas station to do a small resupply at the gas station. My first gas station resupply. I only needed to get lunch/snacks so it wasn’t too hard. They had plenty of hiker-friendly food anyway.

I met another hiker named Bug Bite who started the same day as I did. We hiked together for a little bit and chatted while we were both stoped in Atkins. She’s in her 30s too and we have a bunch in common. I hope to see her again, but she’s pulling 17-20 mile days so maybe not.

After hiking through some beautiful cow pastures I camped at Davis Hollow. It’s a campsite surrounded by farmland, but it’s quiet and flat.

I had the rest of my leftover pizza and giant cookie for dinner. Going to bed early tonight so I can get an early start. It’s supposed to rain around 4pm tomorrow so I’m hoping to get to camp before that happens.

Trail Day: 54

Friday, May 14, 2021

  • Location: Knot Maul Branch Campsite
  • Start/End Time: 8:30/3:45
  • Weather Conditions: Partly cloudy with a random sprinkle

The morning started off by finding out that Iris is officially off trail. She has an injury that will take approximately 6-8 weeks to heal. I’m so bummed out for her. She was doing so well and was less than 100 miles from where she got off trail when she SOBOed in 2018. I hope that later this season she’ll be able to come back out here and finish what she’s never hiked before, at the least.

  1. While hiking today I learned a few of things: There is a lot less laughter in the trail without Seal Team 3.
  2. During Trail Days in Damascus (which is going on right now) there are very few people on the trail.
  3. My hip doesn’t like going uphill.
  4. My hip does like it when I stop to stretch every few hours.
  5. Gas station chocolate muffins make a great second breakfast.
  6. It’s going to take a bit to get used to hiking alone again.
  7. Only hiking 13 miles means getting to camp super early and being bored.
  8. Mountain House Rice and Chicken is delicious.

My favorite part about today was walking through all the pastures. There were some amazing views and it was so peaceful. I didn’t see many cows which is good as I’ve heard of some people being charged. 

As I mentioned earlier, Trail Days in Damascus started today, so the trail is super empty. It’s strange walking out here and only seeing half a dozen people all day. I’m currently camped alone. This is the first time this has happened since I stealth camped on Rocky Bald in North Carolina. I’ll have to get used to this over the next few days.

Overall the day was pretty uneventful. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ll most likely be doing the trail while managing pain. Once one thing feels better something else starts to hurt. I’ve been very lucky in not having to deal with chronic pain, but now I feel like every day is a struggle. As long as I’m able I’m going to keep hiking.

With the stretches Holly told me to do for my psoas muscle, my former roller derby teammate, Terry, gave me some more. I stopped a lot today to stretch and it really helped. I’m hoping I’ll be able to get a release on this muscle to reduce the pain. 

Tomorrow I have a big uphill to do over the course of 6 miles. I’m hoping I can manage my hip and be able to pull 16 miles. I know I’m pushing it, but if I don’t I’ll have to do 10 miles instead. There is a big stretch on a ridge that has no water for 8 miles. Where I am I don’t have service either so I don’t know what the weather is going to be like either. Those 2 things will help me decide my mileage for tomorrow. I’m gonna play it my ear, but it would be great to have less pin and be able to do the 16 miles. With 8 of it on the ridge I’m going to stay positive.

Trail Day: 55

Saturday, May 15, 2021

  • Location: Stealth Campsite just past the blue blaze trail for Davis Farm Campsite
  • Start/End Time: 9/5:45
  • Weather Conditions: Partly cloudy

Today I feel like a hiker again, and not just because I did 16 miles. I know I’m supposed to be taking it slow, but the terrain was super easy and my hip didn’t hurt until the very end of the day.

I got a really late start because I didn’t want to crawl out of bed. It was kind of cold last night and I woke up several times to put on layers and add a layer underneath me as well.

I start hiking around 9 o’clock and went nice and slow to warm up. Most of my morning was uphill, but it took place over the course of 6 miles so it wasn’t super steep.

Right before the uphill was my first water crossing. The bridge got washed out during a storm and thankfully it wasn’t very deep. I took my shoes and socks off and went across in my crocs. The water was super cold.

When I was going uphill I realized that I had excellent cell phone service, so while I was stopped filtering water I got a bunch of text messages. One of them was from Hoagie and I noticed she was typing another message, so I called her.

We had a lovely hour long phone conversation. We talked about everything that happened, how much we miss each other, and shared what has been happening on trail over the past few days. We’re going to chat like this throughout the rest of our trip as she’s so far ahead of me I’m not gonna see her on trail again. We talked about plans for seeing each other after we finish and doing a road trip down to trail days in Damascus next year. 

Chatting with her really set a positive tone for my day. It’s good to know that she’s missing the trail family too, and that we’re still here for each other.

I was able to chat with Megan and Corey as well. It was really nice to talk to them and broke up my day so it didn’t seem so long.

There are so few people on the trail right now because everyone is at trail days in Damascus. Come Monday the trails are going to be swamped again. I’m at a point where I’ll probably see people I was hiking with before, but it’s pretty nice having it really quiet out here.

Oh! One last thought. Someone hiking in front of me really likes hard candies and dropping the wrappers those candies come in. I picked up a bunch of trash today. 

Trail Day: 56

Sunday, May 16, 2021

  • Location: Helveys Mill Shelter
  • Start/End Time: 8:45/5:30
  • Weather Conditions: Partly cloudy with scattered rain

I think my body really likes getting up later. I’m covering more miles and feel more well rested. I’m also following a bit of a care routine. I stop to stretch several times I day as my body tells me to. Each night I use the CBD balm I recently got to massage the bottoms of my feet and my hip. I stretch before bed and as I’m writing my journal I usually sit in an active relaxation position to simultaneously stretch my psoas muscle and rest my back and legs. 

All night and this morning I could hear the sounds of cows mooing. The noises were echoing up from the valley on to the ridge I slept on. After I realized what it was it enjoyed it, but I thought there was a large scary animal making noises outside of my tent for a good hour.

Even though I was up early I didn’t start hiking until 8:45 because it was raining and I wanted to wait for it to pass. The goal today was to get to Bushy Mountain Outfitters, which is right on the trail, to get fuel and re-supply. It’s around 13 miles from where I woke up, so it wasn’t going to be a very long day.

While there were some ups and downs today it was mostly ridge running. Unfortunately that means very little views as they’re difficult to make and maintain. 

Both yesterday and today I saw some things on trail that I’m torn about. Someone has created several fairy gardens along the AT. As someone who is a be believer in Leave No Trace the fairy gardens bother me. As a hiker who has had very little to look at they make me smile. 

I’m addition to the fairy gardens I came across a blue blaze trail called the Trail Boss Trail. This was a great surprise as my Sweet William sometimes refers to himself as the Trail Boss. How did the people down here in Virginia know to name a trail after him? Sooooo strange.

As I was heading down the mountain to the outpost I got a text from Hatter saying he had passed the store earlier and they were closed and there was no camping close by. Not what I wanted to hear! I need fuel and some food to get me to Woods Hole Hostel 2 days up the trail. Luckily there is a hostel I’m passing tomorrow where I can get fuel. So I hiked on to find a campsite. 

First I walked over highway 77, then down a sketchy side road to a parking lot. In said parking lot there was a trash can for hikers to put there trash in. As silly as this sounds it’s super helpful so we can carry less weight. Next to the trash can there was a sign that read, “Please no deer carcasses in hiker trash can.” I find it strange that this is even an issue, and I live in a state where hunting is very much part of the culture.

While the steep uphill wasn’t fun and there were no stealth campsites in sight, I did end up camping at the same shelter as Hatter. He’s recovering from an injury and doing small miles, but he’s still out here. 

Speaking of small miles, you know how I’m supposed to be taking it easy. I did the math and I crushed 17 miles today. Funny thing is, my hip doesn’t feel terrible and neither do my shins. I think all the extra down time at camp and extra sleep is really helping!

Trail Day: 57

Monday, May 17, 2021

  • Location: Dismal Falls 
  • Start/End Time: 8:45/6:15
  • Weather Conditions: Cloudy with scattered rain

As I write this from within my tent I’m also having a stare down with a rabbit that doesn’t know if it wants to be my friend or not. 

Besides the rain today was a great day. Although it didn’t start off that way. It was really chilly this morning and I didn’t wanna get out of my tent, but I knew I needed to get fuel my stove. Just like with a real job sometimes hiking sucks.

Within 20 minutes of hiking, it’s starting to rain. I’m just really over hiking in the rain. At first, it was kind of fun, but that time has passed. However, during the rain, I did hit the 600-mile mark!

Soon after, I passed the small memorial to Stronghold who was attacked and killed on trail in 2019. He was an Army Vet seeking solace in the AT. I stopped and spoke to him apologizing that he didn’t find the peace he needed.

Afterward, started my new audiobook, Born a Crime, written and read by Trevor Noah. I’m only a few chapters in and it’s amazing. His candid stories about being born in and growing up during apartheid are jarring and heartwarming at the same time. I can’t wait to listen to more of it tomorrow.

I made a few calls to friends today while hiking and got to talk to my friends Andrew and Laurence. Two amazing and completely different conversations. Andrew and I love the Marvel Comics Universe and have seen all the movies and TV shows. We chatted about Falcon and Winter Solider today and how amazing it is. Laurence and I talked about traveling, her amazingly crazy children, and made plans for a girls weekend this Fall. She told me her kids are following my journey on a map, which is so sweet. I’m going to start sending them postcards from the trail. I might be a little too excited about it.

By the time I got off the phone I realized I had made some really great mileage and I was feeling great! I stopped to take a look at my map and realized I was only 5 miles from Trent’s Grocery. I called them to make sure they had fuel and they did, so I kept going.

5 easy miles later I was on the side of the road, hitched a ride to the store and boom; fuel! I also bought some chocolate milk, powdered donuts, and some other food. Another hiker, Cactus, was also there for a resupply and dinner.

Guthooks and my AWOL guide said it was a deli so I was excited to get a sandwich, but I keep forgetting that people in the south don’t know why a deli really is. This place had burgers, fries, and other fried food. Don’t get me wrong, my burger, hot dog, and fries were delicious, but it was NOT a deli. They didn’t have any freshly cut meats or sides like pasta salad. Am I in the northeast yet?

After I finished my dinner I hiked another 1.7 miles up to Dismal Falls. I expected to find a bunch of hikers camping here, but didn’t find any. Shortly after I arrived Cactus pulled in and was also in shock that we were the only ones here.

The falls are gorgeous, I’m so glad I did the extra miles to get here today. In total

I did 18.6 miles today. One of my longest days on trail so far. 

Before I left for the trail I added a little clothes line for my socks and underwear inside my tent for when its wet outside. The upside is I always have dry socks and underwear. The downside is my tent has the consistent smell of feet and ass. As a result I try not to spent too much time I’m here, but it’s cold outside so I’m surrounded by that stink. Good thing I’m going to Woods Hole Hostel tomorrow to take a shower and do laundry.

Trail Day: 58

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

  • Location: Woods Hole Hostel 
  • Start/End Time: 8/2:30
  • Weather Conditions: Cloudy

I still can’t believe that Cactus and I were the only ones at Dismal Falls last night! We think that we’re in between 2 bubbles of people as he’s been hiking solo for several days as well, then add on trail days and you’ve got an empty trail.

I woke up strangely early today and started hiking around 8. Within 30 minutes of hiking in the cold I didn’t want to hike. I’m finding this to be a theme in the mornings. I usually don’t hit my stride until noon-ish.

While hiking around mid-morning I heard rustling in the branches and saw a little animal climbing in the rhododendron bushes. I watched it for a bit and while it looked like a groundhog I’ve never seen one climb a tree before. I’m a bit puzzled. Take a look at the Linda blurry zoomed-in photo and let me know what you think in the comments.

Once I got up on the ridge I had service and was able to chat with my girl Kelly, also known as Girl with the Passport. She always makes me smile. Since Broadway is reopening in September (is anyone else excited about this?) we’re planning a trip to go down to NYC and see at least one show. I’ve been listening to a lot of musicals lately, so I’m hoping that some of my favorite shows and a few new ones open! I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Matilda and Newsies.

The downhill to Woods Hole Hostel was rocky. I had to slow my pace way down to ensure I didn’t slip or misstep. My hip was also giving me a bit of a hard time with the little ups and downs thrown in for good measure.

If you’re going NOBO, Woods Hole Hostel is to the right once you reach Sugar Run Road. Look for the sign. It’s .5 miles down a rocky road, but totally worth it! It is one of the oldest hostels on the AT and is run by the granddaughter of the original owners. I’m staying the in bunkhouse, but they have the main house that’s like a B&B, Safari tents, and you can set up your own tent on the lawn too.

The vibe here is super chill! Upon arrival I met Happy Thoughts who is doing a work for stay while she recovers from an injury. I’ve been following her on Instagram since she started her hike and I’m so glad we met!

I was also happy to run into Pegusus, Upchuck, and Lost/Found. I haven’t seen them since the Greyson Highlands, so it was nice to arrive and see some familiar faces.

Once I claimed my bunk I took a shower and did my laundry. It’s really nice to not be stinky anymore. Well, at least for a little while. The rest of the afternoon was spent hanging out in the bunkhouse catching up with everyone. 

One of the things that drew me to Woods Hole was their home cooked dinners and fresh baked bread. Tonight’s dinner was a garden fresh salad topped with apples, sunflower seeds, and almonds. Along with bread there was also 4 different types of cheese and homemade hummus. I left dinner with a full belly!

To fit the communal living vibe they ask everyone to do help out in little ways around the hostel. Take a couple of minutes to sweep the floor, wipe down a table, etc. I helped clear and clean the dishes. As a result, I started chatting and ended up helping prep breakfast for tomorrow morning. We’re having a French toast casserole. It looks amazing!

In the hiker box I found a sewing kit! There has been a hole growing larger and larger on my right inner thigh and this morning it was so big I had to wear my sleep shorts underneath. Hopefully my sewing job holds.

Tonight is the first night I’ve spent in a hostel on trail with people other than my trail family. It is also the first time I’ve slept next to a person who snores so loud I could hear them through my headphones. I’m never felling asleep tonight. Good thing I’m take a zero tomorrow. Seriously, this guy snores like a Mac Truck. I’m a bit concerned about his health to be honest.

Trail Day: 59

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

  • Location: Woods Hole Hostel 
  • Start/End Time:
  • Weather Conditions: Partly Cloudy

Even though my sleep wasn’t great I still got up way too early. Why do I do that? That guy snored all night long. I’m no doctor, but I’m 90% sure he has sleep apnea. He needs to figure that shit out. While it totally sucks that he probably has this health condition, it’s not fair to others in the bunkhouse to have to deal with it either. I wish people where more self aware.

Once I dragged myself out of my nice comfy bed with my super soft pillow I headed to the front porch where I sat in a rocking chair and sipped on coffee before breakfast.

The rest of my morning and afternoon was super chill. I lounged in the hammock on the porch of the bunk house and caught up on my journal. I also took a nap. This other hiker, Ice Breaker, showed up and I listened to him play his guitar for most of the day. He’s pretty good, and it was really soothing. 

After munching on some homemade bread and delicious cheddar cheese for lunch I organized my food and hit the resupply closet. While there wasn’t a huge selection of food that I would normally eat there was enough for me to get a 5 day resupply with what I already had in my bag.

Then I started to do some self care on my feet and body. I massaged my feet and realized one of my little toenails looked weird and hurt a little when I touched it. I swear if it falls off I’m going to freak out. I’ve never lost a toenail and the idea of it is really nerve wracking and disgusting. In the bunkhouse I found some hydrogen peroxide so I did a foot soak in hopes of the toenail has fungus in or on it the soak will kill it. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Then, at 4:30 there was yoga on the lawn. It was a little fast paced for me, as I’m not a yoga flow person, but all the stretches were amazing! I’m so glad I did it!

Dinner was delicious, and I, again, ate too much bread. I helped clean up in the kitchen and then spent some time chatting with Ice Breaker in the bunkhouse before bed. With only 2 people in the bunkhouse I hope it’s a nice quiet night.

Trail Day: 60

Thursday, May 20, 2021

  • Location: Rice Field Shelter
  • Start/End Time: 9/6:45
  • Weather Conditions: Sunny and Hot

It was sad to leave Woods Hole Hostel this morning. I really felt at home there and wish I could have had more time there. Next year when I drive down to Trail Days in Damascus I’ll be stopping here again! It was great it get it meet Happy Thoughts after following her on Instagram. She had a doctors appointment today for her foot injury and I hope she’ll get back out on the trail soon.

The morning had lots of ups and downs, but it was beautiful! There were only a few views along the ridge, but the views that I did come across where amazing.

My favorite view was Angels Rest Rock. It had the best view of Pearisburg. I stopped there for lunch and talked to Hoagie. Catching up with her always makes me smile.

I had great service once I started hiking down the hill and I called Cheryl and George. I hadn’t spoken with Cheryl, who I’ve known since I was a teenager through Girl Scouts, in a long time and it was great to hear her voice. George, who I went to college with, was so sweet and sent me some money to support my hike via Venmo. Catching up with them both put a smile on my face. I’m extremely lucky to have so much support from friends and family all over.

I came across a cool old cemetery too. Pearis Cemetery wasn’t that big but was filled with graves dating back to the 1800s. The most prominent grave belonged to Captain George Pearis who was a decorated soldier during the Revolutionary War, according to a sweet old man I met while visiting the site.

I hiked along what seemed like a highway and along some very busy roads after leaving the cemetery.

Then, there was a water issue. While I had filled my water bladder earlier it was so hot that I ran out of water within a few miles of the Rice Field Shelter. There were notes in the Guthooks app that said water was difficult to find, and they weren’t kidding! About a mile or so before the shelter I found a slow trickle of water that took me about 20 minutes to get a few liters. I feel so lucky to ha w found this!

Upon arriving at the shelter I found Ice Breaker spread out, reading and eating. I decided to set my tent up in the field to get a good view for both sunrise and sunset.

Since I arrived at camp later than normal my dinner wasn’t ready until 8! I was so hungry, but still got to enjoy the sunset. Ice Breaker joined me out in the field at the sun went down and we chatted about our motivations for doing the trail and how we both visualize reaching the summit of Katahdin everyday. It’s nice to know that visualization works for other hikers besides me.

Trail Day: 61

Friday, May 21, 2021

  • Location: Bailey Gap Shelter
  • Start/End Time: 8/6:30
  • Weather Conditions: Sunny and Hot

Got woken up at 12:30 am by people outside my tent. Their flashlights were bright and their voices were not quiet. They found the path towards the shelter and they headed in that direction. I was sure they’d be waking Ice Breaker up too, and he confirmed that they did.

I was hoping as I said hiking in the morning I come across in tears. Mileage had texted me that she had seen there’s the day before a mama and some clubs. Unfortunately I did not see any.

Only an hour and I was hot and bored so I called my friend Kali. We talked on and off for a little over an hour as the phone cut out at times. At one point I broke down a little bit because I’m a bit lonely. I miss Hoagie and Iris, and while I know I’m strong enough to do this alone I miss the laughter that we all shared together each day. It’s just not the same without them. Kali is really good peptalk’s and I felt a little less alone after our call. My support crew is absolutely spectacular and well I say this over and over I’m so lucky to have them.

Today as a whole was rocky, hot, and lonely. No views. Hardly any people. It was just a day of hiking. To top it all off I had to haul a bunch of water because there were so few water sources on the trail. I hope this doesn’t become a trend in Virginia.

I stopped at shelter to rest and have a snack, and chatted with 2 ladies. One of them was a section hiker and the other was an American living in Ireland who was here visiting family. The later offered me an apple. It was delicious! I don’t think section hikers know how appreciated snacks specifically fresh fruit is to thru hiker. 

The uphill to the Bailey Gap shelter was terrible. It was only 1.5 miles, but it took me over an hour. It was steep and rocky. A fellow female hiker came up behind me during the climb and she was sweaty and really pissed of about the hill. I found it pretty funny. She’s really going to hate it when she gets New England.

Right before the shelter was a water source so I filled everything and continued on hiking.

To my surprise, Mileage was there when I arrived. I gave her a big hug. It was so nice to see a friendly face! I hadn’t seen her in a long time and like me she’s lonely as her hiking partner five pair went home with a hurt ankle in Hot Springs. Seeing each other was definitely a morale boost for both of us.

Ice Breaker was there too, and I had bacon Mac and cheese for dinner. There were only four of us in the shelter and everyone was super chill. While the sun goes down later everyone still going to bed early so I was nice just lay in the shelter, listening to the birds chirp, and enjoying the air as it cooled off for the evening.

Trail Day: 62

Saturday, May 22, 2021

  • Location: Campsite past VA Route 42
  • Start/End Time: 8/7:15
  • Weather Conditions: Sunny and Hot

Last night was the best night sleep I’ve ever had in a shelter. Everyone there was super chill and no one snored, it was amazing.

I really like getting the slow starts in the morning because my body plenty of time to just chill out relax and enjoy the morning. I chatted with Mileage and Icebreaker and started hiking around 8 o’clock.

The morning was already hot. The uphill to Wind rock was rocky and steep and extremely hot. OK it wasn’t extremely hot, but it was really humid making the low 80s temperatures seem warmer.

When I got to Wind Rock there was a couple they’re celebrating their 14th anniversary together, it was super sweet. The view was back Tacular and they were nice enough to take a photo of me. There’s never anyone at these beautiful views when I get there so usually don’t end up in photos. But here’s a great panorama of me at Wind Rock.

A little ways down trail from wind rock I had to take a break it was warm and I was hungry. Mileage caught up with me and had a snack too. We decided to sit together for a little while to have someone to chat with. She’s been pretty lonely as well and we had a lovely morning chat. I don’t let my nanny kids, she told me about her daughter, and we talked about everyone on the trail that we haven’t seen in a while.

We stopped at War Spur Shelter for lunch. Well the shelter itself was very basic there were so many amazing 10 sides in the area. With the heat and the light breeze coming through the space around the shelter it was very tempting to stop there for the day and put up our tents. I’m proud to say that I did not stop and I continued along the trail. I instantly regretted that decision once the uphill started.

It was so rocky I had to go really slow. At one point I missed stabbed and twisted my ankle a little bit. It’s OK, but I slow down even more to prevent further injury. I had to stop several times in the lobby because I was getting so hot but I feel like my body was overheating.

Then when I was nearly halfway up the mountain I came across the road. Before I even saw the road I saw the face of a little girl the big smile. She looked right at me and said, “We’re doing a Trail Magic!” Instantly my day got better! Earlier in the morning Icd Breaker, Mileage, and I were talking about how it was the weekend and we hoped we’d get some trail magic. The trail provides!

The trail magic was being done by Super Dave (who is a triple crowner) and his grandkids Billy Goat and Angel. Soon after I arrived Mileage showed up too. We got hot dogs with all the fixings, soda, and chips. The kids were really cute and I enjoyed asking them about the trail. They do trail magic with Super Dave all the time  and, Angel especially, really enjoys it. I spent way too long sitting and chatting, but eventually had to keep walking.

The rest of the uphill was just as rocky. After a while and leveled out but the rocks kept on coming. I was able to make a phone call and chat with my friend Mary for a little while before my service cut out. After this is when I started to lose my steam.

My original plan for the day was 218.7 miles to get to Keffer Oak. It is the largest oak tree on the AT, estimated to be 300 years old. However, at 5:45 when I looked at my watch, I still had 5 more miles to go. As much as I tried to make it about a mile away I came across a campsite and was so tired I stopped for the night. I’ll be seeing that beautiful tree first thing tomorrow morning.

Trail Day: 63

Sunday, May 23, 2021

  • Location: Campsite 1.5 miles pat Audie Murphy Monument 
  • Start/End Time: 8:30/7
  • Weather Conditions: Sunny and Hot

I woke up the next morning to the sound of hikers hanging by my tent. So clearly I woke up a little bit late. I’m excited to get to see the key for oak today it’s only a mile away and while I’m disappointed in myself for not making it I’m glad that I stopped and listen to my body.

The Kiefer oak is one of the most beautiful trees that I have ever seen. Although I am glad that I did not camp in that area as there was cow poop all over the place. I spent some time gazing up the tree and a fellow hiker offered to take my photo.

From there I suffered up a steep hill or mountain or whatever. I know that I keep saying that I’m suffering and the pills are awful which I’m sure you already know, but I’m still gonna say it because it makes me feel better to write it down the end of the day.

When I reach the top I was on a ridge for a while. I called my friend Holly, that’s part of my support crew. It’s a birthday on Monday so I want to say happy birthday and just catch up in general. She’s also a nurse, probably the best nurse ever, and has had my back with all my strange medical related questions out here. From using vaginal itch cream on my feet because that’s all I had with me to when I freaked out over my toenail falling off (it hasn’t) and everything in between. To my knowledge she hasn’t laughed at me, but I’m not there and knowing her she probably has at least a little. Anyway, we caught up a bit on what’s been going on. She was having a little get together for her birthday with family that day and making one of her oh so famous charcuterie boards. Seriously, she’s a master!

Then I called my friend Laura who I met climbing Kilimanjaro the first time. We haven’t seen each other in ages and I miss her so much. I’m excited that we get to go to Patagonia together in March.

The ridge was pretty rocky and slick, so I ended up twisting my ankle. I’m fine it just hurts a little. The next stream I see I’ll be soaking it.

Soon after that twist I ran into Platinum, who I hadn’t seen since Sufi Lodge, and hiked with her for the rest of the day. When we where almost done for the day we found the most epic trail magic EVER!

Subway subs from Hokey Pokie’s parents, a cooler full of soda and beer at the trailhead, and an former AT thru-hikers, Up Dawg and Headstand, cooking up egg sandwiches! There was fruit and Gatorade too. There was so much food that I grabbed some for my dinner!

Unfortunately, I ate way too mix food and that made the final uphill of the day a bit of a challenge. We cameled up and needed up stopping at a random campsite. We camped with Platinum, Hokey Pokie, Rocks and Roots, and I had the best one trail dinner so far – the rest of my Subway sub!

Trail Day: 64

Monday, May 24, 2021

  • Location: Camp site at mile 707.5
  • Start/End Time: 7:45/5:45
  • Weather Conditions: Sunny and Hot

Last night all I did was toss and turn. I went from hot to cold constantly and just felt sticky. Probably from all the sweat from the previous day, even though I washed up when I got to camp.

I’ve also been awake since 5 am. Why did I get up so early? I was out of my tent around 6:30 and reluctantly ready to go.

It was immediately hot when we started hiking. With 10 miles to Dragon’s Tooth we thought it would be a great morning…we thought wrong.

Although the day started off with us seeing 2 deer which where beautiful, less than 5 minutes later I almost stepped on a very large rat snake.

We found a small stream that had a very slow trickle of water soon after that and filled up as there was no water until we went up and over Dragon’s Tooth.

Rocks and Roots ended up in front of us after we got water, and we leap frogged them for a while after we reached the 700 mile mark. 700 miles! Woooo!

The approach to Dragon’s Tooth was Ling and rocky. I drank so much water on the way up, and had to stop a bunch because of the heat.

Dragon’s Tooth wasn’t as cool as I thought it was going to be. We climbed around on it for a bit, but overall I was underwhelmed. I didn’t climb all the way up as I was worried I wouldn’t be able to safely climb back down.

The downhill from Dragon’s Tooth was very difficult. For al the Day Walkers it was easy, but with a pretty full pack I was worried that one shift or slip in the wrong direction and I was going down and off the side of the mountain. There were several pets where I had to sit down and slide off the rocks and another part where there was rebar in the rocks. I felt like I was hiking the Long Trail again.

Going downhill we ran into Patrick, who was at Woods Hole when I was there. He was covered in sweat and looked exhausted. He said he had been out of water for over an hour. I had some spare water, so I gave him some of mine.

When the uphill was done we reached a road and I spotted a cooler next to a trail kiosk! Inside was Trail Magic from Up Dawg and Headstand, leftovers from yesterday. But damn was that coke and Hershey bar delicious!

I walked the .4 miles to Four Pines Hostel with Platinum and Patrick.

There I took a and shower and got a ride to the store in the back of a pick up truck. I quickly consumed chocolate milk and ate chips and dip. It was a pretty chill place based on donations, so I put some cash in the donation box.

After eating we headed back on trail so we could make it a Hero Day. A Hero Day is not a Nero (near zero miles) or Zero (zero miles) day. A Hero Day is when you hike into town, get all the shit done you need to get done, and head right back out on to the trail.

We did an additional 2.8 miles. It was just as hot and the water I used for the shower was totally wasted as I was instantly sweaty.

Towards the end we where done. So I turned on Whitney Houston’s “I wanna Dance with Somebody,” full blast on my phone and we danced and sang to the tent site. 

I called Will, ate dinner, and then it started to rain. Hopefully it will rain all night and not tomorrow. After over 700 miles I’m really hoping for a good view at McAfee Knob!

Trail Day: 65

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

  • Location: Lamberts Meadow Campsite
  • Start/End Time: 7:45/4:30
  • Weather Conditions: Hot with a brief afternoon thunderstorm

We had a lazy morning. We didn’t get up late or anything, but the fog that lingered in the air was a bit of a downer. Platinum and I were both hoping to get a clear day as we’re headed to McAfee Knob today, the most photographed place in the Appalachian Trail.

Thankfully we had an easy hike to VA route 311, the parking lot for McAfee Knob. Right at the parking lot, we found more trail magic! That’s 4 days in a row. I feel so lucky to get this much trail magic. There was a cooler full of cold drinks and Twinkies. So I ate my first Twinkie and had a root beer.

We ran into a trail crew on our approach to McAfee Knob. These 3 guys where hauling huge logs to pit next to the trail to keep it from eroding. I always stop to talk with and thank trail crews. They are the unsung heroes of the Appalachian Trail and every other trail around.

By some miracle the fog cleared and we got a view! There were a bunch of day hikers there enjoying the view when we arrived. They were lounging by the great photo spot so I went and kindly asked them to move so we could get a great photo. They were shocked when I told them we hiked over 700 miles to get there. Sometimes I don’t think people know they’re hiking on the AT. They were amazing and let us take some pretty good photos.

Bug Bite, who I had met about a week before showed up. We took some more photos and I mooned all the day hikers taking a few of them.

From there Platinum and I headed to the last of the Virginia Triple Crown spots, Tinker Cliffs. It got really hot and the uphill was brutal. My hip was not happy. As we got closer we could hear thunderstorms off in the distance.

Of the 3 sights Tinker Cliffs are my favorite of the Virginia Triple Crown. The views were spectacular and while I thought it would be an exposed cliff it was a series of cliffs surrounded by a beautiful forest with tall grasses. If I didn’t need water I would have camped there for the night.

We arrived at Lambert Meadows Shelter just before the rain started. Bug Bite caught up to us and we hung out until the rain stopped.

From there the 3 of us went to Lambert Meadows Campsite because there were so many people camped at the shelter.

Platinum made a campfire and we chatted and ate dinner. All of a sudden we heard yelling from down the trail, “Get out of here! Go away!” Since only one voice was heard we figured it must be someone yelling at a bear. Guthooks said there has been a juvenile bear visiting the area at dusk on several occasions. Platinum hopes the bear will come visit us later in the evening as she’s never seen a bear.

Trail Day: 66

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

  • Location: Daleville Super 8
  • Start/End Time: ?
  • Weather Conditions: Hot

How does it get so hot so early? I’m never going to make it through the summer!

By 8:30 I was sweating bullets and hating everything. The easy ridge walk we were expecting was really rocking and I did a lot of tripping. Thankfully there were also some beautiful views from the top as well!

Around mid-morning Hoagie called me to make plans for tomorrow! Her parents are going to come and get me so we can hang out at the Devil’s Backbone Brewery! We’re going to hug and cry and drink all day, I’m so excited!

The rest of the morning consisted of Platinum and I talking about what we were going to eat at McDonald’s when we got to town. I was going with the classic Big Mac, fries, and sweet tea. She was going with a Chicken McNugget meal with fries and a coke. The thought of it got us to town in no time!

And it didn’t even take us too long to get a ride over there. A guy who owns an entertainment company, think dunk tanks and bouncy houses, picked us up.

I’ll be honest, I’ve never enjoyed a Big Mac more in my life! I needed those calories so bad.

Then we checked into the Super 8 and took care of business; showers, laundry and gettin go organized. I found some extra laundry soap in the hiker box so we soaked out packs in the tub. It was disgusting to say the least.

We walked down to the Koger to resupply and went to the outfitter nearby. I got new shoes as I was approaching 500 miles on mine and the tread was giving out. Shoes are so expensive! It’s a bit frustrating, but my feet are doing a lot of work and I need to treat them right.

We ended our night by having dinner at Three Little Pigs BBQ. I had some amazing sangria and a mind blowing appetizer of buffalo chicken rangoons. The appetizer and side salad where so filling my 1/4 of a chicken and baked potato didn’t get touched. Looks like I have lunch for tomorrow!

Trail Day: 67

Thursday, May 27, 2021

  • Location: Daleville Super 8
  • Start/End Time: 
  • Weather Conditions: Hot

Today was filled with a whole lot of nothing! It was amazing!

I couldn’t really sleep in for some reason, so I went down to get breakfast early. The hotel is giving out breakfast in paper bags because of COVID. Unfortunately, inside the bag where some crappy muffins and lots of sugary stuff. I was really hoping for a breakfast sandwich.

While I’m super bummed out that I don’t get to spend today with Hoagie I understand that things change. I think she’s more upset about it than I am. She had a terrible day yesterday and I think us getting together got her through it. We will meet again, we just don’t know where yet. I did get to talk to her on the phone and made her promise to take a zero day to rest. She needs one!

The hotel breakfast wasn’t great, so I ended up eating my leftovers early. They were delicious.

Afterwards, I caught up on my journal as I was several days behind. It’s been so hot and I’ve been so tired that I haven’t wanted to write.

Then I got a text from Mileage saying she was at the Super 8 too! I went down to her room and we made plans to go to the BBQ place for dinner.

On the way back I found some Sawyer Permethrin in the hiker box, so I grabbed it and went outside to spray my tent body, pack, and new shoes. While it was hot in the sun I layer under a tree behind the hotel while the spray dried.

The rest of the afternoon I watched TV with Platinum and she told me the plots of all the shows I don’t particularly enjoy like Friends and Gilmore Girls.

I followed this up with a bath and then I started puking.

Not sure if it’s food poisoning from my leftovers or I have norovirus (which has been going around the trail). Either way I spent the entire afternoon and evening throwing up and sitting on the toilet. I’m not going to get too graphic, but there were several times I needed to sit on the toilet with the ice bucket in my lap. By far the worst afternoon of this adventure so far.

I suggested that Platinum get her own room so if it was norovirus so potentially didn’t catch it. She was such an angel! She got my Gatorade a s saltine crackers at the store and went to the front desk and  arranged for me to stay here an additional night.

The rest of the night was terrible. Once my stomach was empty I started vomiting bile. At that moment I just wanted to be in my bed, at home. This is the first time I’ve felt like this since I started. Being sick away from home is the worst.

Trail Day: 68

Friday, May 28, 2021

  • Location: Daleville Super 8
  • Start/End Time: 
  • Weather Conditions: ? I didn’t go outside

I tossed and turned all night, but thankfully stopped throwing up around midnight. Pretty sure I got food poisoning from my leftovers. 

I woke up to a message from my friend, and co-founder of WHOA Travel, Danielle. I never get to talk to her because she lives in Munich and by the time I get WiFi it’s always so late for them. It was so great getting to catch up with her and see the adorable face of her new baby!

I spent the rest of the day sleeping and hydrating. But most importantly, I didn’t throw up again!

In the afternoon I was able to House Party with 3 of the 4 members of my Support Crew. I really needed that today! It was so amazing to see their smiling faces. I can’t wait until we can all be the same place again.

Mileage ended up slackpacking today and offer to throw some of my cloths in her lid of laundry. She’s so amazing.

The rest of my night was spent watching Comedy Central and continuing to hydrate I’m hoping I feel back to normal in the morning so I can hike.

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