July 1st 2018
Stealth site – ATC (mile 1024.1)
11.7 miles + 1 mile side trails
Total miles: 1042.4


What a great nights sleep. I don’t think I woke up once! I didn’t got to sleep until 11:30pm and I was awake at 5:30am though so that’s still not enough sleep! As usual there were a bunch of bugs and arachnids camped out on my tent. There are so many spiders on this trail, there is zero chance of me cowboy camping, and now with the arrival of the slugs into the mix there is even less than zero chance. But it was nice to sleep without the fly. 

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I didn’t have far to go today and the trail couldn’t be as bad as it was yesterday. I set off at 6:40am and the trail was a dream. A little rocky in places but compared to yesterday it was nothing. It was 6 miles to the road where you could get to Sweet Springs store, basically a gas station. I didn’t make any plans but I would see how I felt when I got there. I saw a turtle and listened to some music and they were about the only two thing of interest that happened in that 6 miles. I was doing well for time and I got there quickly doing a 2.7 mile an hour pace. 

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Of course I decided to go to the store. I had hardly eaten anything last night and that cliff bar didn’t really do it this morning so I walked 0.3 miles along the road and got a Mountain Dew and a turkey sub and I sat on the ground outside the gas station while everyone was filling up their cars and I was getting covered in fumes. 

The sub was not a Subway. It didn’t have the right ratio of meat to salad and there was no chipotle sauce. It was all turkey. I swear she put like 6 slices of turkey in my sandwich. How much turkey does one sandwich need?? But it was fresh and the pepper was crunchy and it filled a hole. A couple of others came and joined me – Fable and Story – and I was glad because I then didn’t feel so much like a tramp.

The cars coming to the gas station were huge, pick ups which were the size of a small lorry. I swear the cars are getting bigger and bigger. They are so big that when the door is opened an step slides out so they can get down. This one truck left the engine running while he filled up. I didn’t know that was possible. One guy was smoking a cigarette, which he then took inside the store. Pretty sure that isn’t allowed!!

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I had stayed there longer than intended and after buying a Gatorade for the journey (and tipping away my water) I continued on. The trail remained a nice grade but it did start to get a little rocky and towards the end it got really steep as I descended down to the Shenandoah River and into Harper’s Ferry. On the way I did a couple of quite spectacular trips which had the potential to really do some damage but I managed to save myself. 

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The Shenandoah river is huge! As I crossed on the bridge there were a bunch of people floating down in it white water rafting boats. The rapids looked a little tame but it looked nice to be on the water on such a hot day. And talking of hot. Now I was down in the valley the heat was something else. 36°C and around 85% humidity. But really it felt like a billion degrees and 100% humidity. Being in the direct sun was unbearable. 

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There was a bit of a climb up the other side of the river which I hadn’t prepared for and it was tough. I was glad I was nearly there and not having to go any further today. I took the blue blazed side trail to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy HQ. Harpers Ferry is a historic town with lots of history from the American Civil war and with links to Washington and Jefferson and all that constitutional stuff. It’s a pretty little place with some old (for America) buildings. I got to the ATC and was welcomed in warmly by the volunteers who work there. 

I got a 50 cent soda and a 75 cent ice cream and sat in the wonderful world of the air conditioned hiker lounge. I got my picture taken outside and filled out my details for the hall of fame. I started as hiker number 2562 and I am now hiker 1256 to pass northbound through Harpers Ferry this year. Less than 24 hours earlier Short Shorts arrived and he was number 1237. There are so many people out here. And by the time I dragged myself out of that air conditioned office at least 10 more people had arrived. 

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I made my way up the road to the Teahorse hostel. Someone had turned up the heat! I put my umbrella up in a desperate bid to keep the sun off me. The hostel was an expensive one at $35 but I needed a bit of comfort at the psychological halfway point. It was also $6 for laundry which is the most expensive yet, but it would turn out to be worth it. He had tops to borrow but no bottoms. 

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I faffed about for a bit and made some calls etc, then I walked to the 7/11 to resupply. Resupply was a stretch. I got the usual Twix, cliff bars, crisps and candy and really that was it. There are a couple of towns coming up which I can duck into if I get desperate, and I was considering getting a couple of mountain house meals from the hostel. Finally they were reasonably priced at $7 not the $12 I’ve been seeing them for. 

I could have tried to hitch out of town to a shopping place where there was a supermarket (and a Subway!) but the thought of standing on the road and then having to do the same on the way back was too much. 

The heat had turned itself up again and I walked to the store with my umbrella. Everyone, even the locals were complaining about how hot it was today. “This is unusual” they were saying. Back at the hostel I finally got to take a shower and it felt so good. When I took off my top I could see I had been bitten an extraordinary amount of times on my arms. I felt a couple of mosquitoes today but this was a feast! We didn’t get given a washcloth so I don’t feel squeaky clean but at least I got off a layer of dirt and salt and grime. I gave my hair a couple of shampoos and with no conditioner, no comb and left it at that. 

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Now all I had to wear was my borrowed top and my towel. So I wrapped the towel around me like a skirt and carried on with stuff. I got my laundry together and left it with the hostel man who does it for you! That is worth the $6 on it’s own. There was a bit of a queue and he said it would be about 2 hours. 

By now I was starting to get really hungry and I realised that apart from that ice cream I hadn’t really eaten anything since my 9am sub sandwich and now that it was 6pm I was hungry, so I decided to go to the pizza place down the road. I felt a bit odd going out without a bra on and dressed in a towel with no underwear! But they let me in and they let me sit in the restaurant in my towel (it wasn’t like I had advertised the fact I wasn’t wearing any underwear) and I agonised about what to order for such a long time. 

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In the end I went all out and got a 14” pizza with 7 toppings. Mushroom, Spinach, Garlic, Pepperoni, Green Peppers, pineapple and extra cheese. I got this with the intention of packing some out for my resupply. I struggled my way through half and then got them to wrap the leftover three slices into individual foil wrappers. I’m not sure this is the best plan, it was pretty soggy, but there we go. Now I won’t bother with the mountain house and I’m thinking about shipping my stove back. It’s too hot and I’m too lazy to cook, plus there is nothing I want to eat. 

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Back at the hostel I collected my laundry. It actually smelt good. Even my socks smelt nice. Nothing has smelt nice since the start. It was quite amazing and well worth the expensive laundry charge. I will be so upset when my bandana smell like death again. 

I’ve not had time to do anything. I’ve not been able to update the blog or YouTube or anything. I’ve taken an Aleve PM so it’s a race against time to get this finished! I am determined to get 8 hours of sleep tonight and it’s just after 9pm.


Watch the video!

For this trip I made a daily video diary which you can watch here: DAY 54

 

 


 

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