June 30th 2018
Trailhead and tenting – stealth site (mile 1012.5)
25.4 miles
Total miles: 1029.8


I slept so well. It was a bit on the warm side but I was so tired it didn’t matter. When I woke there was a variety of creatures on my tent. A slug. A spider. A thing that looked like a leaf but was a bug. 

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I packed up and was on my way by 7am. I wanted to try and do a 28ish mile day today. It was hot immediately and I knew it was just going to get hotter. I got water from a spring and carried on down the trail where it was pretty overgrown. I got slapped in the face by the plants but eventually it widened out into a meadow. The Cartographer guy passed me, looking very smug that he’d caught me up! I let him pass and carried on having a bit of a stroll. That’s what it felt like this morning. I felt good. A renewed sense of vigour. After three hours I was maintaining a 2.5mph pace and then it all went a bit tits up. 

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You are now entering the rollercoaster. Built and maintained by Trailboss and his crew of volunteers. Have a great ride. 

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So the rollercoaster is a 14 mile section which just goes steeply up and down about 14 times. So every mile you are ascending 500ft and descending 500ft. Give or take. I had been hearing about this section for a while, and the general consensus was that it wasn’t anything as bad as Georgia. So I went into it without being too worried. I stopped to eat my guac and crisps just before to give myself some energy. 

What I hadn’t bargained for was the heat and the humidity. I had been spoilt a bit for the last few days through the Shenandoah. The temperatures were a lot cooler and the humidity lower and I had forgotten what it was like. The trail through the Shenandoah is also very nice. Today the temperature was 33°c / 93°f and the humidity was 97%. When you were in the sun it felt like it was over 100° and the humidity might as well have been 100%. The humidity really takes it out of me, especially when I’m going uphill! 

The first two uphills actually weren’t that bad and I thought it was going to be ok. I played leapfrog with a few people today. I didn’t get to know any of them. I didn’t have the energy. At the bottom of every valley was a spring or a stream so thankfully water wasn’t a problem. My consumption of it was though and I should have drunk so much more. 

This part of the trail must be really accessible from everywhere. I forgot it was a Saturday and there were loads of people around. I slogged my way up and over another bump and there was a family playing in the creek. It doesn’t feel right when you’ve put so much effort in to get there and it doesn’t need to be that hard! 

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About 7 miles in I hit the 1000 mile mark. It feels good to have checked off 1000 miles. I am happy that my body has held up this far and after all the rock kicking and tripping today all my body parts are still functioning! I did a couple of spectacular trips where I though I was a goner but managed to save myself. The whole trail is so rocky and challenging through the rollercoaster. 

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My pace had seriously slipped and I was just clinging on to an overall 2 miles an hour. Up and over another bump and there was another 1000 mile sign! The trail changes so much every year that it’s hard to know where the exact point is. 

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Up and over another bump and there was a viewing point at the top, there were so many people there I just walked straight on by. I knew they were looking out over the trees. My sweat was getting out of control. It was pouring out of my face. Rolling down my cheeks and making my eyes sting. At the creeks I washed out my bandana and washed my face and wet my hair in a bid to cool down. I was sweating so much I even had a few salt marks on my top. That was nothing compared to some of the other hikers I saw who were so sweaty they looked like they had just jumped into a swimming pool, and they had drips coming off their shorts. I had a morning wee but then I didn’t wee again until 2pm. It was a dark larger colour and that wasn’t good. I was drinking but it was just coming straight out my face. 

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There was a major road crossing and the heat down there on the blacktop was pretty unbearable. The cars were going so fast it took me a while to get across the 4 lane road. Back in the trees I saw a couple I had been leapfrogging with talking to day hikers. They asked if I was a thru-hiker and they were offering out frozen snickers bars. Very nice of them but I don’t like snickers. And I saw the couple in front of me were also clutching a Gatorade each which they must have been given. Bummer. I was obviously too late for the Gatorade. 

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It was only a couple of miles to reach the state line where I cross into West Virginia. I couldn’t make it without sitting down. I felt terrible and I made myself drink all my water and I ate a bunch of goldfish because they are salty. So many day hikers passed me. I wondered why they were all hiking up there. To see the state line? Does that mean there is going to be a crowd of people there? One guy passed me and said ‘your hiking partner is waiting for you at the state line’. Errr I don’t have a hiking partner. “She isn’t waiting for me” I said. 

I had Take Me Home Country Road stuck in my head for a few days just because it references West Virginia in it. I wanted to sing it at the state line and I definitely didn’t want anyone else to be around when I did it! When I started to feel a little better I carried on and I almost walked past the sign, but luckily for me there was no one there. I much have passed at least 40 people between the road and here so I was a little surprised. I wondered what they had all come to look at. 

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It’s really sad that there is so much graffiti on the sign. I don’t know why people can’t leave it nice for others. I got some pictures. Did a silly little video and then sat down to eat my last guac and crisps. I’m going to regret this later when I have nothing to eat but I was hungry now. About 0.1 of a mile further on was a nice view out over the valley. Why didn’t they just pretend the state line was here? Who’s going to know. At least you’d get a nice photo! 

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I carried on and there were just 1.5 rollercoaster bumps left. This section of trail had been brutal. When I got to the end and saw the sign telling southbounders they were about to enter the rollercoaster I stopped and breathed a sigh of relief. A guy was just behind me and I said it’s over! We’re done with the rollercoaster! And he looked as relieved as I did. He said that was…and paused before saying…not my favourite part of the trail. I agreed and I’m sure a lot of others do too!

Just before the last uphill on the rollercoaster I had to make a decision about where I was going to camp because that was the last water for a few miles. I had done 21 miles and I could have camped there but that meant I would have to do 16 miles tomorrow. I looked at the weather forecast and there are highs of 36°c / 97°f tomorrow so I want to be out for as short a time as possible. I filled my water so I could dry camp. There isn’t a lot of water tomorrow either but there is a store 0.3 off the trail if I get desperate. 

Further up the trail is a donation based place to stay. There were many reasons I didn’t want to stay there. It’s run by the person who ‘maintains’ that section of the trail. It really didn’t feel maintained to me. It felt like extra rocks and obstacles had been added just to make it harder than it already was. It was off trail down a steep hill. I would get there too late to receive any benefits of paying to stay somewhere so I may as well camp in the woods for free. It will be really crowded because it’s a Saturday night. 

There was a stealth site mentioned just past the donation place near a view so I aimed for there. I got there at about 8:20pm. I was absolutely done in. 13.5 hours of continuous hiking and over 6000ft of up and down. I saw a tent there already and there didn’t look to be much option for me but I found another spot and got my tent set up. 

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I went over to the view to see the sunset. I couldn’t stay for long because the bugs were so bad and I jumped into my tent and ate some goldfish, which isn’t enough for dinner but there was no way I was going to cook ramen at 8:45pm. I needed to lie down as my legs were starting to throb. As the sun set some more I could see the little bit of cloud in the sky turning pink and it’s probably a really nice sunset now but I was in my tent and that’s where I was going to stay. 

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At 9pm it’s still 93°F. I’m flyless tonight and I saw so many deer on my way here in the last couple of miles I hope they stay away from my tent. As it gets dark I hear a load of fireworks going off. It’s June 30th but the Fourth of July falls on a Wednesday this week so which weekend do they choose to celebrate? I’m sure there will be stuff happening on both weekends. I’m sure if I got out of my tent and went to the view I would be able to see them but that’s not going to happen. I’ll just have to make do with the firefly display instead. 

I had my second wee (well third but I never count the morning wee) of the day just before I went to bed. That’s not enough! It’s dark and fizzy. 

It’s 10:30pm now and I’m just finishing up writing. Although my legs are throbbing so hard I wonder if I’ll sleep. 


Watch the video!

For this trip I made a daily video diary which you can watch here: DAY 53

 

 


 

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