June 21st 2018
Marble Spring – Blue Mountain Creek Shelter (mile 806)
27.7 miles
Total miles: 822.9

Once again it was a bad nights sleep– this is a theme isn’t it? Although I went to sleep instantaneously, I woke up several times because of the wind. It was strange, it was blowing madly up in the tree tops and the leaves were making so much noise, but it wasn’t reaching us down in this little dip. For that I should be grateful. The night could have been a lot worse! 

I lay there from about 5:30-6:30am just not wanting to move. But eventually I deflated my air mat and started to pack up. I had a conversation with Short Shorts this morning about the next couple of days. My original plan was to hitch to Glasgow which was about 8 miles away, resupply and get back on the trail. He had asked me to got on to Buena Vista instead which was 29 miles away. I worked out that I did have enough food for another day and if we hiked about 25 miles today, it would leave 4 miles to do in the morning and get to town. I have read that the hitch to Buena Vista is a hard one and I said to him that I’ll go to town with him if we hitch together. He said he only wanted to do low twenties today anyway and getting to the creek sounded like a good plan and that’s what we should do. It was 7:30am by the time I left and Short Shorts hadn’t packed his tent away yet. But he packs up in seconds so I was expecting him to catch me up on the way down to the shelter. 


The shelter was my first port of call. Mostly downhill it was a fairly easy hike to get down there. A bit rocky but I was using the rocks to massage the arches of my feet. I do that if they are feeling a bit sore and recommend that trick to anyone who has plantar fasciitis. Use the rocks. A good pointy one will give your foot a massage.

With about 2 miles to go I really started to need a poo. When I woke up I didn’t even need a wee, I need to get out of this dehydrated state I’m in. At the shelter the poo was actually coming out of my bum as I went up the hill to the shelter. It was so difficult to walk and I thought I wasn’t going to make it but I did. Just. I think that’s about the third time I’ve come very close to pooing my pants on this trip. TMI? This is just the reality of it.

I was in there for a while. My pack was clearly visible next to the creek but I didn’t think Short Shorts passed by. I carried on downhill to where the trail crosses the James River. At first I thought I was walking next to a lake because it was so massive but it wasn’t until I crossed on the bridge that I realised it was the river. There were some people jumping in it but it didn’t look like the nicest water to swim in. I’m not that keen on lake and river water. 

Then began the big climb of the day up to Little Rocky Row. It was a long and in parts a steep climb. I hadn’t seen any hikers all day but I saw someone’s pack next to the creek and I assumed they were getting water. I look up to my right and about 20 feet from the trail is a man taking a shit. 200 feet is how far away you are supposed to be from a water source. You certainly aren’t supposed to be able to see the trail from where you’re pooping! 

I moved on very quickly. I stopped briefly to get some water. Drank a bit and then carried a half litre which I thought would be enough. Lots of water around today. It was a long hot slog to the top and it was seriously humid but I think it might have been marginally cooler than it was yesterday. Today there were more clouds and the sun was hidden for the most part. The bugs were out in force though and I was being driven completely mad as they were in my eyes every few minutes and it seemed like I had a buzzing one constantly next to my left ear. Every few seconds I was trying to swat it away. 

I was moving slowly, as expected, but it was ok because I’d moved quickly on the downhill before the climb. Eventually I made it to the first top – Little Rocky Row –  where there were some nice views back over the James River, and then after a little downhill and some more steep rocky uphill I made it to the top of Big Rocky Row where there weren’t that many views. Earlier in the day, when I was getting water at the creek, poop man passed me but I didn’t say much to him. He was here at the top and he told me his name was Granite. I couldn’t hang around because of the bugs so we didn’t talk for long. 


I then realised that I had made a mistake with the water. I was very thirsty. I had almost run out and there was still 5 miles to go before a stream. Bugger. I would just have to deal with it. The trail then mellowed out a little bit, following the ridge in an almost flat way until the last big climb of the day up to Bluff Mountain. 

The sky wasn’t looking too promising and I had a little sit down before the climb because if it started to rain I didn’t know when I would get another opportunity for a break. I couldn’t stay there for long. The black flies were at swarm level. When I moved on it started to sprinkle. Enough for me to get the brolly out but it only lasted for a few minutes. I had a bit of a moment as I was climbing up. I was too hot. I didn’t want to go uphill anymore. The bugs were horrible. I needed water. I was hungry. I just didn’t want to carry on. But I had no choice. At the top of Bluff Mountain there was a little memorial to a boy who died there in 1891, there were some weird concrete things where there is supposedly a snake who lives there, there was a decent view over the valley and there was also a pretty good view of the gathering storm. As well as about a trillion black flies. I tried to do a little video and I had about 20 on my hand. 

As I still hadn’t seen Short Shorts I assumed he had taken the path of least resistance (a short cut) and followed the road instead of the trail. Anywhere he can cut off a climb he will. He would have definitely caught me up by now if he was on trail. It was 3:30pm and I still had 8 miles to go. I needed to pick up the pace so I went as quickly as I could downhill, powered on by needing water. 


I crossed the Blue Ridge Parkway at Punchbowl Overlook. There was a lady there in her car who had just got out to take a picture of the AT sign. She told me to get my rain gear out because she had just driven through a storm. I told her my rain gear was my umbrella and she seemed horrified. She told me the umbrella wouldn’t help me. I didn’t bother replying and instead I got rid of all my trash in the trash can and moved on down the trail. Just a short way down the trail crosses a dirt road where there is a great stream flowing just off the trail. I filled up and drank about half a litre and carried on. 


I felt a bit better but I was getting hungry now. So far today I had eaten a cliff bar, a Kind fruit bar, 2 Twix, some fruit snacks, a couple of cookies, a couple of handfuls of crisps and now I started on the goldfish. I had to eat as I walked because the bugs were too bad to stop. I passed Granite again and as I was talking to him another hiker, Sunshine something, came along. They seemed to know each other. It sounded like he had gotten off trail for a couple of weeks and was just starting out again. There was a bit of an uphill so I told Granite to go ahead of me. That was a mistake because I could move faster than him, and I wanted to get a move on. But we chatted for a bit and I found out he started April 4th. He stopped to look at a stream and I took my chance and went ahead. 


I came to a suspension bridge to cross and Sunshine something was there having a snack and talking to a woman. He asked me if this was where Granite was going to camp but I hadn’t a clue. I was 6pm now and I had 2.6 miles to go to the creek and the end of my day. It would be about an hour if the trail stayed mellow. 


As I was hiking I was thinking that Short Shorts wouldn’t be there. Especially if he got there early then he would have carried on. He doesn’t like stopping early. I was really tired now. My legs felt numb but my feet and hips were hurting. The top of my shoulders were also beginning to hurt. My bag isn’t heavy. There hardly anything in it! But it felt like it weighted a tonne. 

When I arrived at the creek at 7am there was no one there. No surprises. I looked around and the tent sites didn’t really look that appealing. 2.4 miles further on was a shelter. I bet he has carried on to there, especially as it was forecast to rain tonight. I could do that in an hour and it wasn’t the longest day of the year, so why not do my longest day so far. Sure. So I decided to carry on. Even though I felt like I was completely done. 

I hiked those miles in a bit under an hour. About 50 minutes. There was a little detour because of a broken bridge but the detour paralleled the trail closely. It was pretty muddy and slidy in places but I pushed on and got to the shelter at 7:55pm. 

I looked in the campsites and I went up and checked the shelter. He wasn’t there. There were other people there, 2 in the shelter and about 4 tents and a hammock set up along the creek, but no Short Shorts. There was no message in the hut book. I set up my tent and I had a big cry as I was doing it. 

I was so pissed off. Pissed off at so many things. Pissed off he wasn’t there. Pissed off he hadn’t waited. Pissed off that I would have to got to a town I didn’t want to got to by myself tomorrow. Pissed off that once again someone has said they would do one thing and then they had done another. Pissed off mostly at myself for compromising again for someone else and not sticking to my own hike. 

He’s doing his own thing and I don’t blame him for that. He probably road walked, got there early and decided to go into town tonight. After all it’s only 2 miles to the road from here and it is due to rain. I would do that too wouldn’t I? No, I wouldn’t. I would have waited at the creek. 

So mostly I felt like a mug that had trusted someone to only be let down again. It was more a straw and camels back situation than the isolated incident because I realise it’s an over the top reaction to something minor. I was annoyed with myself more than anything. 

I was dehydrated before, but now with all the tears and snot production I was severely dehydrated. I collected water from the creek and drank some but not enough. After 27.7 miles today and 12.5 hours of constant walking I was so tired. A contributing factor to the tears. Tears of exhaustion. I got my stuff set up. I noticed the hole in my tent fly. I couldn’t work out what caused it. It almost looked like it had melted, but my tent hasn’t been set up near a fire. Anyway. I stuck a patch of tenacious tape over it and now it will be fine. 

I couldn’t bring myself to ‘cook’ ramen so I went without and just ate some cookies. I waited until it was dark to get out the tent and have a pre-bed wee. I did manage to produce something, but I’m glad it was dark because I’d hate to see what colour it was. 

It’s now 10:15pm and I can barely keep my eyes open. I will fall asleep to the white noise of the creek and the sound of rain drops on my tent. There was space in the shelter but I’d rather carry a wet tent that get bitten but the bugs all night! 

Watch the video!

For this trip I made a daily video diary which you can watch here: DAY 44