June 11th 2018
VA route 623 – VA route 611 (mile 600)
24.6 miles
Total miles: 610.8


I woke up feeling pretty rubbish. I was expecting to have less snot going on but there seemed to still be a lot. And my ears were all blocked and I was just generally feeling a bit rubbish. I managed to cough a bit less in the night I think. 

The trail went uphill a bit, in amongst some big rocks which were cool to look at, and then it went down and up and down. I left a bit earlier than Short Shorts but he soon caught me up. I managed to hike with him for a bit as we went downhill and we chatted about a whole bunch of things. At a bridge the trail went uphill again and he soon blazed ahead of me. It took me a while to get up that hill. 

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On the way down the other side I saw a man doing trail maintenance. He was really friendly and he was explaining to me that the barrel he was next to, which contains wood shavings that people are supposed to take to the shelter so they can be used in the privy, is full of trash that hikers dump in there. It is clearly labelled with wood shavings for privy not a trash can and yet hikers cannot be bothered to carry their trash another 7 miles where there is a real trash can. *Insert heavy eye roll*. 

So he was forming a team of people to go in and carry out the trash. Do people really think that a barrel in the woods is there just for you to put your trash in. Who do you think is going to come and empty that? It’s a couple of miles away from the road. 

Anyway. I carried on and saw Short Shorts at the bridge collecting water, the man I just spoke to said don’t get water from that river because it has runoff from the septic tanks of the houses above, but I didn’t say anything to him or the other man there because they were already drinking it. He told me to go further up the trail where there is better water. As it happened I was still ok for water and didn’t bother stopping. 

Short Shorts said he had seen a shortcut which was a road he wanted to follow which meant he didn’t have to do any climbing. He’s all about the shortcut life and will always skip the trail if he can see a more direct route. I’m more about just following the trail. The next hill, which I was dreading, was awesome. It was switchbacks all the way to the top and it felt so easy. Oh how I’ve missed you switchbacks! This is how to build a trail, it was so nice, and then up on top of the ridge was fairly easy walking.

This morning I’d had a bit of a moment where I was wondering why I was doing this. Am I having fun? What am I getting out of this? Why am I still walking? I was missing friends and laughter and people to share my experience with. As I was chatting to the camera and thinking that of it wasn’t for the video diary I started I would feel like I had no one to talk to. At least this way I feel like I’ve got a friend I can confide in, even if they don’t give much back! I got a bit emotional as I was talking and I realised at the time that I was hungry, I wasn’t feeling well, and there was rain in the forecast today which were all contributing to me feeling the way I did. I knew today was going to be a bit of an emotional rollercoaster of a day. 

I only had about 3 miles to go but I seemed to be slowing down and getting distracted. I was grateful when Knees came along and I hiked behind him the rest of the way to the road. We chatted about the PCT, his recent bout of Giardia, the CDT and Taiwan mostly. We walked through a big burn area which still smelt really…burney. I remember reading about a fire before coming out here and I think it was a hiker fire which started it. The last half a mile was dirt road and we got to the the road crossing at 1:30pm which I was really happy with. 16 miles by 1:30. That’ll do nicely. 

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Short Shorts was already there and he said Salty and Pi left a few minutes ago. It was time to get that burger I had been thinking about all last night and all morning. It didn’t disappoint. Both Knees and I ordered bacon cheeseburgers and Cajun fries. I got a chocolate milk to go with mine. Short Shorts had already eaten and did some resupply, which is doable but limited there. If you think what I eat is bad then what he eats is bad too. For the next two days he basically bought ramen and honey buns! He also got the most enormous ice cream and then finished my fries because I was stuffed. He got a BLT to go, which is what I should have done, and then complained about feeling really ill for a while before he set off on the trail again. 

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Knees started walking the 3 miles into town, hoping to get a ride to Bland as he walked. He had to pick up a package there, otherwise there’s not much need to go into Bland. You can pick up enough stuff at that store to get you through a couple of days. 

You can charge electronics, fill up your water, use the loo, eat a good meal, resupply, get rid of your trash. What more do you need? 

I wasn’t sure what I was going to do that afternoon. I could either walk 2.2 miles to a shelter or go a bit further to a tent site. It was 12 miles to the second shelter which was a bit too far. I was dithering because I wasn’t sure what the weather was going to do. If it was going to rain I thought I would maybe want to stay in a shelter. Either way there is no water for the next 12 miles. Water has been so plentiful that it felt like such an inconvenience to not have any water. I filled my water bottle with a Gatorade and the other bottle with water. This is the most water I will have carried on this trail so far. I was expecting it to be a hideous experience but actually my bag didn’t feel that bad. 

I was doing some procrastinating at a picnic table and I was just packing up to leave when a man came over and was trying to convince me to go with him and stay in his double wide. He said he has a spare room and he would give me a hammer and nails to seal the door in case I was worried he would peep on me. He even offered to just drive me to Pearisburg so I didn’t have to walk. He went on and on and I kept saying thanks but no thanks and he eventually went away. He seemed a little annoyed so I was glad to get out of there and back to the safety of the trail. 

Even on the trail I still couldn’t really decide what to do. I had crossed over the interstate and I got to the junction where the shelter was at 4:30pm and decided it was too early to stop and having had a decent feed I was feeling way better than I was feeling this morning and I was more into hiking. I decided I wanted to try and avoid the shelters if I could. So as the weather was still holding up I decided to push on. The trail was so much nicer than it was yesterday. By the last mile yesterday I had really hit a wall and I didn’t want to carry on, but today I had gone over a mile more than I did yesterday, and I had a two hour break in the middle of the day. I felt good again. Still a bit sick and very tired, but good. 

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I had managed to hike another 9 miles from the store which was more than I had planned and when I crossed the road I saw someone had scratched a 600 mile mark into the gravel. Just after the road was a little campsite and there was no one there. Maybe this will be my first camp on my own – something I thought wouldn’t happen on the AT. But I’ve left a little bubble of hikers behind now. They are doing 15-18 mile days. It was only 3 more miles to the shelter but I decided not to go on. It would have been between 8-8:30pm by the time I got there and there was no guarantee that I wouldn’t still have to pitch my tent. 

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It was just before 7pm and I pitched my tent super fast because it got really dark all of a sudden and I thought the heavens were going to open, but so far there has just been a tiny bit of drizzle, and I think it’s just moisture from the trees. 

I ate some Pringles, I couldn’t be bothered to ‘cook’ my ramen. And by 8:10pm I was in my sleep clothes lying down. This is what I should be doing every night! Last night I sat up and chatted for ages and I’ve done that other nights too resulting in me not getting into my tent until 9pm and then not going to sleep until after 10pm.

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There is a road close by and I’ve heard a few cars, it’s not the most wonderful camp spot but it’ll do. The creaking of the trees is a rather unpleasant sound. I hope I don’t get squashed by a tree in the night. 

It’s now 9:15pm and I’m checking out for the night! 


Watch the video!

For this trip I made a daily video diary which you can watch here: DAY 34

 

 


 

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