July 3rd 2018
Dahlgren backpack campground – Falls Creek (mile 1066.2)
24.3 miles
Total miles: 1084.7


I ended up not going to sleep until 11:30ish. I had a little cry for about a minute and I really wasn’t sure what that was about, but eventually I did drift off to sleep. It didn’t go below 24°C at night and the thought of having my sleeping bag anywhere near me was gross so I just lay there in my sleep clothes. I woke again at 5:30am. This appears to be wake up time regardless of what time I go to sleep. So a nice solid 6 hours of sleep. Wonderful. 

What was wonderful was to be able to get out of the tent and hobble over to that bathroom and make use of the flushing toilets and a sink to brush your teeth at. That’s luxury camping right there. Then I sat at the picnic table and ate my cliff bar and drank a sprite for breakfast. Stop judging me, I didn’t want to carry it. 

I set off and it was a lovely trail all the way to the Washington Monument. It was clear and wide and a nice grade with very few trip hazards. I got to the campground and filled up my water from the drinking fountain and then took the AT / tourist path up to the monument. There were signs on the way up with significant dates of George Washington’s life. I had been listening to Hamilton because I have the song ‘Helpless’ permanently stuck in my mind. Today is July 3rd so tomorrow they will be celebrating Independence Day – the day the USA became independent from England and when George Washington was the president. I shall be listening to the Hamilton soundtrack in its entirety tomorrow, all 2 hours and 23 minutes of it. My entire knowledge of independence comes from Hamilton, and my favourite tracks are the ones sung by the King of England…

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Anyway, I saw Gusher (an man with an unfortunate trail name acquired as the result of having a lot of nose bleeds) at the monument and there were also three men there dressed in normal shorts and tshirt but there were each wearing a top hat too. 

I hiked with Gusher for a bit, and we passed an older couple who I found out were brother and sister. Gusher hikes quite fast and with the pain in my foot still being an issue I was struggling to keep up. I stopped to pee and let him get ahead. The foot thing was becoming quite a problem. I would have to sit down every couple of miles to take my shoe off and release the pressure. 

I crossed over the interstate on a bridge and then walked alongside it for a while. I saw 4 runners, one of them said he had cleared all the cobwebs away this morning. I said a genuine thank you. Then I saw some electricity people doing some work and it really doesn’t feel like you’re very far from civilisation, ever.

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Eventually the pain in my foot was too much and I decided to take out the insole and see if that would help. It helped so much. Suddenly I had so much room in my shoe. It was no longer pressing on the side of my foot. It did feel a little strange but strange is better than pain. I was a bit worried that the difference would affect my body and make other parts hurt, but it was so far so good. 

The trail was nice for a while and then it became a bit rocky but it was nothing too bad. I passed a couple of people but didn’t have much conversation with them. The trail left the shade of the trees and passed through a succession of meadows which was unpleasant. Being in direct sunlight was horrible and I couldn’t wait to get back to the safety of the trees. It was hotter than hot again today although there did seem to be a bit of movement in the air so it felt a smidge cooler than yesterday. I saw 3 big groups of kids pass me in the other direction. Of course the kids aren’t in school now so they are all out doing summer activities. I got warned twice about a rattlesnake on trail but I never saw any snakes. 

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Back in the trees it felt a few degrees cooler but the trail then took a turn. It became really rocky. I kept expecting Bryce and Peaches to overtake me but they never came. Maybe they got ahead of me somehow. Maybe they didn’t see the monument. Either way I didn’t see anyone overtake me and I had passed a few people which didn’t seem right given how slowly I was moving. 

The rocks were bad and they slowed me down. Plus the couple of uphills after the trail being basically flat for the last day and a half. I had to stop a few times just to rest. And I had to stop a few times to pee which was good because I was doing my best to stay hydrated, making sure I drank a lot at each stream. 

On one uphill, it wasn’t long but it was steep and so rocky I had to sit down about halfway because I was overheating. I felt done in. I felt like I could just set up home there and rely on passing hikers to give me water. 

But of course that’s not an option so I carried on and the trail mellowed in terms of grade but the rocks remained. I met someone coming towards me and he was chatting to me. He said he met me in Front Royal but he must have been thinking of someone else because I didn’t recognise him at all, and he was a guy that I think I would have remembered. 

There was a rocky descent to the road and then a rocky ascent back up again and then a really steep descent to negotiate. There was a point where I wasn’t sure if I was on trail because it was just a field of rocks. I met a girl and I was about 2 miles form a state park and she told me there was trail magic there. I quickened my pace a little bit I didn’t want to get my hopes up too much. I knew there were a lot of hikers out there and it might all be gone by the time I arrived. 

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A young Australian boy blazed past me and he left a scent, not a pleasant one, lingering down the trail. I made it to the park and saw a bunch of hikers and the lady with the trail magic was just leaving but there were some bits left. I got a Capri Sun and a satsuma, which was delicious, 4 mini Twix bars and some m&ms. Pretty good!

Gusher was there and the Australian boy who is hiking with his dad, I found out they were from Darwin, and a couple of others I hadn’t seen before. Then Bryce arrived about 10 minutes after me, and Peaches about 5 minutes after that. Neither of them were having a good day. They much have been just behind me the whole day. 

I stopped at the bathrooms and washed out my bandana. It already smells absolutely revolting, as do my clothes, so that lovely laundry smell didn’t last long at all! I filled up on water and carried on along the trail, over the railway lines to the state border. The Mason Dixon line. 

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This marks the border of Maryland and Pennsylvania. I entered Maryland yesterday and I’m leaving it today. Short but sweet. Apart from the rocks. But excellent trail magic. 

I have been looking forward to the Mason Dixon line. Simply because it has my name on it! This line marked the divide between the northern states who abolished slavery, and the southern states who didn’t. Anyway. It was nice to cross over the border and enter my seventh state. It was even nicer that there was just 0.4 miles to go to get to the camp site. 

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Gusher, Peaches, Bryce and I seem to have congregated together and we sat and ate ‘dinner’. I didn’t see what they ate but I just ate some crisps. I’ve realised that everything I’ve bought is cheese flavour. Cheese Doritos. Cheese ruffles. Cheesy goldfish. A bit of variation would be nice. I forced them down. I hadn’t eaten much today. 

They are a nice bunch. I hope this continues for a bit longer. We were all rubbing our feet and discussing the injuries and pains and we were experiencing, and talking about shoes and stuff. I started itching all my bites. I had been bitten so many times today. I think I picked up at least 20 new bites and that’s only what I can see. I don’t want to look under my clothes. 

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Luckily I didn’t have to because it had started to get dark by the time we all retired to our tents. I’m going topless tonight. I should have left the fly off last night, it never rained, so I’m hoping it will be a bit cooler without it on tonight. I am lying in just my shorts and tshirt. It’s 10pm and it’s boiling. Sunbathing weather but it’s nighttime and dark. I feel like there is cannon fire happening in the distance but on second thoughts it must be fireworks. All I can see is the firefly display which I will never ever tire of.  


Watch the video!

For this trip I made a daily video diary which you can watch here: DAY 56

 

 


 

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