June 14th 2018
VA route 100 – campsite (mile 657)
20.6 miles

Total miles: 670.3


For a full bunk house I slept surprisingly well. With my snotty nose I feel like if anyone was snoring it may have been me! 

I woke up early but the shuttle back to the trail wasn’t until 8:30am so I lounged around for a bit and made sure I had enough podcasts downloaded for the next section. Right now I’m enjoying listening to Desert Island Discs, Backpacker Radio, and No Such Thing As A Fish. 

Salty and Pi left early. They went to the first road crossing yesterday and I went to the second one so they had a bit further to walk today. Last night we made a theoretical blood pact between the 4 of us – Salty, Pi, Short Shorts and myself – to all get to McAfee Knob together, so we have someone to take our picture. 

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Short Shorts left as he had road walked here so he felt like he had to road walk back to join his footsteps. I packed up my stuff and then headed to the supermarket to buy something for breakfast. I couldn’t find anything. American supermarkets, especially the small town ones, are rubbish. I just wanted to go in and buy a nice croissant or another delicious bakery item but there was nothing. Unless I wanted a pack of 6 croissants, which I didn’t want. Everything is sold in such bulk. I was getting frustrated. I had also wanted to buy some hummus, but again the tubs were huge. I really miss New Zealand hummus, that beetroot one was so good. 

So I wondered around for ages and came out with a chocolate milk, 4 cliff bars and some slices of deli turkey. I don’t know why I picked that up. I was just craving some meat. I drank the milk and ate a cliff bar and had to make a quick visit to the bathroom back at the hostel. Hopefully all that Chinese is out of my system now! 

I sat talking to this British girl called Penguin who started on April 20th. She made a comment that she didn’t like meeting other British people on the trail and she had met too many. She hadn’t come out here to meet British people. Okay then! We carried on chatting for a while and other people joined in. There are lots of ex-PCTers out here and we all like to talk about it! 

Eventually the shuttle left at about 9:10am and I asked if he would mind dropping me at the post office, dropping the other people in the shuttle at Walmart and then coming back to get me and take me to the trailhead. As the shuttle was supposed to leave at 8:30 I had just resigned myself to carrying the stuff I didn’t need until the next town, but he seemed happy with the plan so I was able to got to the post office and ship back my puffy, my camp shoes that I’ve only worn once, my hat, gloves, compression sleeves and sleep socks. It’s hot now and it’s just going to get hotter. It was so nice to get rid of those things which I’ve been carrying but not using. Now my bag is pretty small, even with 3 days of food. 

I also had to throw away one of my water bottles, the one I had been putting Gatorade in, because it was all mouldy at the bottom. I didn’t have time to replace it so I’ll make do with the one bottle for the next few days. I still have my bladder as back up. 

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Papa Smurf then took me back to the trail head and I saw Short Shorts there, he had just completed the 1.5 miles of trail I did yesterday. We hiked up the trail together and over the bridge and under the road and we made it back onto the AT. I only just managed to keep up with him as we hiked uphill. I’m pretty sure he slowed down for me too! We chatted a bit and then I had to stop to pee – that old trick! No, I really did have to stop to pee – and he went on ahead. I saw him again at the top of the climb as the trail opened out into a meadow and there were views of West Virginia. 

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We hiked together on and off as we traversed the ridge. He definitely made me pick up my pace and I was going much faster than I had been if I was on my own. We told stories and chatted about this and that. I was starting to feel really tired and my legs were really aching, unusually so. Short Shorts decided to take a break and make coffee and I carried on. I took the pace down a bit and took it a bit easier. My legs felt so heavy. There was a fair amount of uphill and I just put my podcasts in and got my head down and tried to knock out the miles. There were all these tiny bugs which liked to buzz around your ears and float around your eyelashes. They were driving me mad! And the humidity today has ramped itself up and was now at 97%. The face sweat was real. 

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My PCT 15 friend Superclassy started about 3 weeks ahead of me and I never thought I would catch her. I had been seeing her names in books and I have been gradually closing in on her until I was only a day behind her a couple of days ago. I assumed that she would have left Pearisburg yesterday but I had a message from her saying she was still there. What?! We have passed each other without seeing each other! I just have to hope she catches me up now! 

The trail became rocky and difficult to walk on and I was slipping and tripping on the rocks. I made it down the decent to the creek, we had a 11 mile waterless section which is a long way for the AT, but I wasn’t drinking much today. Short Shorts finally caught up to me at the creek and we only had half a mile to go to get to the shelter, where we had agreed with Salty and Pi would be our destination for the day. I said I bet they aren’t there. I think they’ve got there early and they’ve gone on further. Short Shorts agreed. 

To my surprise they were sat at the picnic table at the shelter, and In-a-Rush was there too!! There were also a bunch of section hikers there so it was a busy little spot. Salty was eating and I was hungry so I had my crisps and cheese combo, this time with a bit of deli turkey which was a nice change. Pi wasn’t eating and when I asked why she said they were only supposed to stop there for half an hour. I thought that they were waiting for us, so I guess they had intended to carry on without us, but we caught up so I guess I’ll never know the answer to that. 

The shelter is technically closed because of some trees which have been eaten by Gypsy Moths and are in danger of falling over. People are staying there though and the trail maintenance people know that and are ok with it. The sign covers there arses should he unlikely event of a tree toppling occur. 

Rush decided he was going to stay at the shelter. We tried to convince him to come another 1.5 miles down the trail with us where there was a nice camp spot by the creek. We carried on and made it to the camp spot. It was a great little site. The boys jumped in a nice little swimming hole in the creek and Salty made a great camp fire. 

We set up and all ate dinner around the fire. Short Shorts declared that this was the first time he had cooked on the trail. So far he has just been eating ramen noodles, but tonight he was adding anchovies to his shrimp ramen, so that addition means it can be classed a cooking. Salty toasted his spam over the fire and Pi ate her cold soaked mashed potatoes. I just had some ramen and I felt really full, I think I’ve eaten more than I normally do today. 

Short Shorts has decided to cowboy camp, and he left his sleep mat at the hostel so tonight he has a bed of leaves. He’s no stranger to discomfort. He is only carrying the clothes he’s standing in and he seems quite happy to go without a mat for the rest of the trail. 

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Tonight is nice and dry and my tent might get the chance to dry out. It was raining at the hostel yesterday afternoon so there was no way of getting it dry. Instead of my possum down sleep socks I am using the clean pair of hiking socks I have. I’ll wear one to hike in and one to sleep in. I found this mornings Aleve tablet in my pocket and then realised why my legs were aching so much today. 

We have a nice little group. I am making the most of it while it lasts. Pi leaves the trail in Daleville which is the next town. It was nice to sit around a fire in the fine weather next to a creek. It was the first proper camping experience of this trail so far. 

Now at 10pm it’s waaay too late again. 


Watch the video!

For this trip I made a daily video diary which you can watch here: DAY 37

 

 


 

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