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Hardest day on trail ever

Hardest day on the trail ever. The terrain was easy enough but it was SO hot and there are tons of bugs and ticks. The first thing I did when I fell out of my hammock this morning was put on DEET.

I met Red Ryder and Indiana Jones and we walked to the Cup A Joe deli to get bagels. Red Ryder was *covered* in ticks. He’s carrying this awesome walking stick with all sorts of strings on it, each string tremind him of a hiker he has met. He put a thin pink piece of yarn material onto his stick to remember me—he said it was almost so flimsy, he wasn’t going to include it in the collection of strings he ties on, but discovered it to be pretty strong. This reminded me of what PopTart at the ATC said about me: “You don’t look like very much…I would’ve never guessed you are a Triple Crowner!” (Note: the pink also matched my shirt)

It was hot and slow moving for most of the day. It is time for a zero—I’m two days ahead of an 81 day pace. My daily mileage is still good, but my mph seems lower than usual. Looking forward to it…

Surprisingly pleasant PA comes to an end

I had a crazy hike through one of the most intense storms I’ve ever seen in my life after Duncannon. It was made much more fun by being shared with section hiker and his do.

Drank 4 L of water in 4 miles. Not realizing there was a reroute on top of the Superfund site away from Metallica Spring (the best named Spring ever), I ended up drinking out of another spring which may not have been tested.

 

Psychological half way point

Made it to Harper’s Ferry and ATC headquarters am so happy!

Passing the Shenandoah River was such an amazing experience. I had been looking forward to it, but it is even more amazing in the light (did it at 9 pm last time) and with it gushing with water.

I didn’t know if I’d make it to ATC headquarters before 5 since I left Bear’s Den at 10:30. Running through a downpour made the experience more fun, and I even saw a speedy turtle crossing the trail—a good sign!

Last time, I arrived May 28th and was northbound hiker 161. This time, I’m hiker 156!

Ice Axe was 25 and Yas (V8) was 36. No chance I’ll find them.
And Will was here yesterday! Maybe I will catch him!

Roller coasters, biggish miles, a new state, and a castle

My 4th day in a row of 33s and I’m still having a fantastic time!

The weather is just unbelievable. I couldn’t ask for better hiking weather—and in Virginia?? Unheard of!

I had been looking forward to and also dreading the roller coaster–the up-and-down-iest part of the AT. I hit it today and couldn’t help smiling when I saw the sign: Hiker Warning. You are about to enter the roller coaster. See you at Blackburn Center…if you make it out!

This time, the roller coaster was actually fun. I’m not kidding! I smiled through it. I took some breaks on the uphills, but thoroughly enjoyed it. What’s wrong with me???

So excited for West Virginia and Harper’s Ferry tomorrow!

(P.S. When I topped out on the climb to Bear’s Den rock and followed the blue blaze to Bear’s Den hostel, I had *no* idea it was going to be this awesome. A veritable castle in the woods. When I hopped out of the shower, there were warm chocolate chip cookies on my bed. A super fun day of hiking to an amazing hostel…I’m so lucky to be living this life!)

South-mid Virginia photo-fest

Hanging out at the Daleville outfitter. Awesome day, just like everyday out here. Saw a turtle! Many other cool stories, but waaay too tired. Instead enjoy some photos I took.

 

 

Big miles past a scary part of trail

Side trip to Wapiti “Falls.”
Side trip to Wapiti “Falls.”

Low on water and went to Jenny Knob Shelter to get some—it was a blue blaze off trail to a poor water source–only to continue on trail and then see water everywhere…grrr. The trail was super pretty, and though I expected rain, it never came.

River near Trent Store
River near Trent Store

Got a burger at the Trent Store and resupplied for the last 15 miles. I had a lot of time to spare, so visited Dismal Falls and Wapiti Shelter (the center of much media attention).

Flat Virginia
Flat Virginia

 

I’m excited for two zeroes at Wood’s Hole. There is no better place for physical, mental, and spiritual regrouping than its quiet simplicity and wholesomeness.

Virginia *IS* flat

Observe the ridgeline in the background. Virginia Plateau
Observe the ridgeline in the background. Virginia Plateau

I’m going to unjoin the facebook group “Virginia is not Flat.” I remember Pointless Up and Downs (PUDS) and all sorts of energy expended last time I hiked in VA, and this time, it is pretty easy. I look across at other mountain ridges and they literally are flat.

I’m glad I didn’t push onto Chestnut Knob shelter last night—they apparently got 60 mile per hour winds and snow. I saw some snow still in the privy at noon. It was cool to see the balds and Chestnut again–I made a poor decision not to stay there in 2008 and it was cool to have a chance to reflect on that. I met Laura from the ATC at Walker Gap, and Lost and Infidel shortly after.

15 and Rambler, southbounders, were able to share batteries with me, so I could power my mp3 player and push onwards. I drank water from the gnarly Kimberly Creek and made Helvey Mill Shelter’s cut off with plenty of time to spare.