June 10th 2018
Reed Creek – VA route 623 (mile 575.4)
23.5 miles
Total miles: 586.2

Every night I cough a little less than the night before. It wasn’t good to start with, but I don’t remember waking up too much in the night. I do remember hearing some of the loudest snoring ever though. Enough to scare any bears away I should imagine. 

Salty and Pi are up and out before I’ve left my tent. They shout “see you later Puff Puff”. I’m not too far behind and I leave at 6:45am which is the earliest I have been on the trail for a while. Immediately I pass the quarter way marker. I need to start picking up the pace now. If I carry on like this I won’t make it to Maine in the time I have. The day starts with climbing and and I don’t do too badly. I am keeping to a decent pace and the trail comes out of the trees for a bit and goes through lots of open meadows and pastures. The foliage was tall and I was pleased it hadn’t rained in the night because if it had I would be getting soaked right now. It went through fields where there were obvious signs of cows and I wasn’t concentrating and I slipped on a cowpat. Thankfully I remained upright, but I did now have cow shit all over my shoe. I wiped it off the best I could in the reeds. 


I managed to avoid the big thistles and then I was back in the trees and said hi to the cows on the way past. A bit further on was a shelter, which was good news for me because I had hiked 8 miles needing a poo and now I could use the privy. I had already passed 2 women this morning and there wasn’t really anywhere you could go off trail. Happy was there, well his bag was, so I guess the privy was already occupied. I was right. He came back and I went and enjoyed the open air throne. Happy stayed there to wait for his mates to catch up and I carried on. 


There was another giant climb and a big descent, and the sweat I worked up on that climb was crazy. It was running off my face. I also had to get rid of some snot and it’s getting harder and harder to do. It seems at the end of this thing the snot is getting really thick and sticky and kind of white/green/yellow in colour. It’s really hard to get out my nose using the snot rocket because it just clings. So I’m having to blow it out and then pinch it off and flick it. It’s so disgusting but it’s better than having it in my body. I’m only having to do it about 4 times in the day so at least there is a lot less of it. My poor little bandana is gross now because it’s full of sweat and now full of sticky snot. When I pass a little stream I give it a rinse which helps a bit. 


The descent was also hard because there were parts of it that were so steep. My pace was slowing and I was only just slightly over the 2 mile and hour pace. I crossed a creek on a footbridge where I should have got some water from but there were a couple of guys there and I didn’t want to stop and chat so I carried on and got water from a stream which was barely moving. The water was not the best but it was ok. I filled up a litre. Drank half of it with some crisps and cheese and carried the other half. 

Then began the big climb of the day. It was about 2000ft and it was really steep for the first half and then a little less steep on the second half. I was going so slow. It’s frustrating. I’m a good 550 miles into this trail, and I’m not far off having hiked 8000 miles on long distance trail and I still find this really hard. Shouldn’t I be good at this by now? What is good at hiking though? I will stay on the trail until I finish whereas many people won’t. Is that good? Does speed matter? I don’t know but I do know that I would like to find hiking uphill easier. 

But maybe if I did find it easy it would lose its appeal. I like the physical and mental challenge. Would I still get that if it was easy? 


I slogged my way up and about three quarters of the way up it started to rain. Lightly at first and the trees were offering some protection, but the trees ended and I was walking on a grassy ridge with no cover for a while so the umbrella came out. It wasn’t heavy rain. I passed an older guy struggling with his poncho so I stopped to help him, then I passed another older guy. The rain makes me hike a bit faster and the grade of the trail had mellowed out a bit, I made it to the shelter at around 3:20pm and took a break. 

I had been to look for the water source which was 0.1 before the shelter but I couldn’t find anything. With the weather looking really crappy I considered staying at the shelter, but I only had about 2 inches of water left. One of the older guys arrived and then Short Shorts came in. We chatted for a while as he found out I had hiked the PCT. We found that we had a few mutual trail friends which was nice and we reminisced about how great the PCT is and lamented how wet the AT is. 


The other old guy arrived and he was on his phone doing a Facebook live! Not what you need! He was just generally a bit of an ass! If I was considering staying there I wasn’t anymore. Plus Short Shorts said that the big group he camped with last night were heading for the shelter. 

While we were there a guy came running by, apparently he is trying to set a new FKT and it’s taken him 12 days to get here from Springer mountain. I do get bored of these speed records. Especially the supported ones. It’s way harder to carry all your own stuff and food and water than it is to have a support team meeting you at every road. He was only carrying a water bottle. I’m pretty sure I could move a bit faster if all I had to carry was a water bottle. Not as fast as him of course, but anyway, good luck to him. 

I discussed with Short Shorts about staying at the hostel which is a short distance from the road crossing which was my goal for the day. I didn’t need to stay in a hostel but with the weather and lack of water I was tempted. In the end I decided – oh why not just go and stay in the hostel. People have donated money to you for that purpose, you might as well use it for that! So I made a quick decision and said I needed to leave now because it was 4:20pm and it was still 6.2 miles which had the potential to take me 3 hours. 


Short Shorts said he was going to leave after he smoked a cigarette! It was a downhill to start with so I went as quickly as I could so I wouldn’t be holding him up at the road because we needed to call for a shuttle. I did a 3 mile and hour pace for the first hour and then I really hit a wall. The last 3 miles was such a struggle. There were lots of little ups and downs but the ups, though short were really steep and I was hungry and dehydrated and I had just had enough. 

It was also pretty rocky and slippery from the rain, which had thankfully now stopped. It ended up taking 2.5 hours to get there and I saw that there was little camp area at the road, so my taking a chance had paid off this time. I sat on a rock and Short Shorts appeared a few minutes later. I asked him what he was going to do. Now it has stopped raining he was changing his mind about the hostel. He said he had tried to call them and the guy wasn’t super friendly so he was having second thoughts. 

I just wanted to camp there but the problem was I had no water left and there was none around. I tried to scoop some out of a puddle but it was too muddy. My options were go to the hostel or carry on another 4.5 miles which would have meat finishing hiking after 9pm which I definitely didn’t want to do. In the end I called the hostel and told them I didn’t want to stay but I was out of water. If I paid the $5 shuttle fee would he bring me some water? He said yes! 

5 bucks is quite a lot for some tap water but it’s better than not having any and it saved me paying to stay at the hostel so it was a winner really. He bought a gallon so I gave some to Short Shorts too. He arrived with a screech of tyres and he tried to convince us to go back to the hostel – tenting only $10 – sure, but camping here is free! 

I had quite a nice evening chatting, sitting on our rocks while we ate our ramen noodles. I added the packet chicken to mine, I’ve been holding off eating it because I though it might be too much but I devoured it and I could have eaten the same again probably. He offered for me to watch a movie with him on his teeny tiny iPod but I passed up on that in favour of lying in my tent and going to sleep! 


There was quite a bit of glass around but I managed to find somewhere relatively glass free and got set up and took of my wet socks and stinky hiker clothes. I drank a good litre and a bit of my water so I’ll probably be up in the night. My legs are zinging and throbbing. It’s felt like a massive day, and by the time I’ve written this each night it’s 10pm and way past hiker midnight. I feel like I need more down time. 

Salty and Pi must have carried on. So much for hiking together! 

Watch the video!

For this trip I made a daily video diary which you can watch here: DAY 33