June 19th 2018
Daleville – Cove Mountain Shelter (mile 754.2)
25 miles
Total miles: 771.1


We went to bed late and I woke up early. Mainly because Short Shorts is a terrible bed partner and he had his knees poking in my back. I was already right on the very edge of the bed! 

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I left it for a while before getting up to have a wee and say it was 5:45am. Standard waking up time. I went back to bed for a bit, unsure of what my plans were actually going to be for the day, and then suggested going to get breakfast. You get a buffet breakfast at this motel. The standard cereal, waffles, bagels and cream cheese and a huge vat of eggs. Considering we had each only paid $12 for the room it was a pretty good deal. 

I loaded up with a waffle and a cream cheese bagel and then set about packing all my stuff and getting ready to go. It was weird to say bye to Pi and if any of the others could have been convinced to stay another day I wouldn’t have taken much persuading. But I really did need to move on. Even though it was still exceptionally hot and the sound of lounging in the pool all day was so tempting. 

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Eventually at just gone 8am Short Shorts and I hiked out into the intense heat. I was full of breakfast and chocolate milk and I was struggling. It felt like today was going to be a very short day for me. We hiked together for a while, crossing highways and passing under the interstate. Our wilderness experience had a backdrop of fast moving traffic for much of the morning. We came across a water source that we had to fill up at and it smelt like cow poop. It was really difficult to access, with loads of spiky hostile plants in the way. It seems like I’m not affected by poison Ivy though which was good for me! 

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The water was murky and definitely contained particles of cow poop but we were relying on our filters to get rid of that. And they worked pretty well, it didn’t seem to taste like cow. There was no water for 6 miles and it was so hot, so I drank a bit while I was there and I carried a litre. 

The trail moved through some meadows which were just too hot. The sun was so intense and direct we were both grateful that this trail is a green tunnel. Thankful to get back in the trees I wondered why anyone would moan about the trees. It is at least 10 degrees cooler in the trees, which makes it feel ok but it was still pretty unbearable. 

We hiked together for a bit, and separately while we listened to podcasts and things and we got to the water source. Short Shorts had emptied out his cow water when we were about a mile and a half away. I stupidly carried mine all the way to the next water having only drunk a few sips. Rookie mistake! 

We decided to take a break at the water but the flies and mosquitoes were so bad I spent the whole time smacking myself and trying to kill them. We moved on and at the next water source the fly situation was exactly the same. 

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The good thing about the trail today is that it was so well graded. Apart from in a few spots where the uphills were steep and other than a tiny few rocky sections, we were able to move quickly. Not quick enough to stop the flies getting in your ears and your eyes. They were really starting to drive me mad. 

Further on we started paralleling the Blue Ridge Parkway. This is a scenic road which follows the AT for about 100 miles. Short Shorts was telling me that the original plan had been to have this road paralleling the whole AT so people could drive the route. Thankfully that didn’t happen but as a result we are left with this section where the AT wiggles up and down next to this road and crosses over it several times. The road was being resurfaced and the sound of the traffic and the smell of the tarmac did little to enhance the wilderness experience. 

We found a picnic table and there was a cooler with trail magic written on. Yes!  It was empty. No! It was so hot today that a random soda in a cooler by the side of the trail would have been perfect. 

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Again the bugs were just around us in a cloud every time we stopped and I resorted to covering my face with my bandana, but they were all over me. I had to move on. Short Shorts mentioned road walking earlier on in the day and when I hadn’t seen him for a while I just assumed he had road walked. But he did catch me up eventually. 

It was funny, we thought, that the road is lined with trees, the same as the AT is, but whenever there is the chance for a view on the road they had cut down all the trees so people can see the views as they drive by in their cars. It’s a real shame. 

When he caught me he said that the AT goes high up on a ridge only to descend back to the road so to cut out some climbing in this heat we should do a couple of miles on the road. I was down with that. The sun was lower in the sky now and there was some shade on the road. I thought the fly situation may have been better on the road. I was wrong. It was worse. I can only think that it’s us, and the cloud of flies is just following us. 

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This is what happens when the flies get too much!

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As we hiked along we discussed hitching into Buchanan to get a soda and then hitching back to the trail. It was tempting. I didn’t want to do it, but it was tempting. We reached Bearwallow gap and discovered that there were hardly any cars on that road so we didn’t want to take the risk of not getting a ride back. Instead we found the stream, the only water for the next 10 miles, and decided to eat dinner there so we didn’t have to carry extra water uphill to the campsite we were aiming for.

The flies and mosquitoes were horrendous. These black flies were everywhere. Occasionally one would get through the swatting and bite, and for something so small it certainly packs a punch. It hurts and the thing leaves a patch of blood behind. I am going to itch so much. 

I put my bug headnet on to try and keep some sanity. I ate my ramen and chicken, which it was way too hot to eat. I had sweat pouring out of me. Then when it all became too much we carried on to the campsite at the top of the hill. I struggled up there. I really felt like I was done for the day when I was back at the stream. I managed to drink a litre while I was there but as I tried to climb the hill with my bug net on I think it all came out of my face. I was unbelievably sweaty. 

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At the top Short Shorts was waiting and said he had decided to carry on to the shelter 2.7 miles away. That way he would be closer to water in the morning. It made sense. It was only 7:20pm and we had already eaten. Plus it was mostly downhill so I joined him and went a bit further. I don’t know how I managed it. I think I was just moving on auto pilot. Especially after 8pm, my brain stopped functioning, that what happens when I hike for more than 12 hours. 

At the shelter there was a couple there, but apart from passing a girl and a creepy man earlier in the day we hadn’t seen anyone else. The trail felt strangely deserted. The all stayed by the pool I expect. These two people have just started today, having picked up where they left off before. Turns out Par 3 hiked the PCT in 15 so we have some mutual friends. 

We chatted for a while and I got my tent up before it got dark. It might rain tonight which means I have my rain fly on which means it’s too hot in my tent. I have my sleeping mat but I haven’t even taken my sleeping bag out of the stuff sack because it’s just too hot. I’m just lying in my t-shirt and Shorts. I only have one litre of water and I could have guzzled the whole thing, but I drank half and  I’ve saved half for the morning. There will be 3.5 miles until water. 

The privy was brand spanking new. There was still sawdust on the ground. It was so nice. So fancy. This is a privy I could happily sleep in! 

Anyway. It’s gone 10pm now and I’m knackered. I certainly wasn’t expecting a 25 mile day today. 


Watch the video!

For this trip I made a daily video diary which you can watch here: DAY 42

 

 


 

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