Half day

Mile 494—Stealth camp
Sunday, April 28

Weelll… best laid plans, right?

It was raining, windy, and cold when my alarm went off at 4:30. The rain was what did it, though. I just could not—could not—face packing up in the rain again, and carrying that wet heavy mess. So I slept until about 6:30, when it was just getting light. The rain stopped, but the fly was still pretty wet. I got on trail at about 7:45—appallingly late for me.

I just couldn’t get into gear. I may have some allergies or the start of a little cold. The 5-mile climb to Mt Rogers took FOREVER. By 1 pm, I’d only managed 6 miles.

This was complicated by the fact that just up ahead are a bear activity zone, a no-tenting stretch, a remediation area (no camping), and ponies. I couldn’t wrap the spitballing part of my brain around any plan that covered all those bases. If I could do another 12, I’d be out of the no-tenting zone, but I’d have to run, I’d miss the ponies, and I was hiking really really badly. Like… I’d be hiking into the night. And I felt too ungreat for that.

Plus the wind up toward Mt Rogers was terrible again. Like, making me stumble. And a southbounder said the wind up at the next shelter was just awful—like, blow you off your feet awful. I think I have post-Hump PTSD about the wind.

And guess who passed me today? That crew. The big one. So they’d be somewhere, like a landmine of camping rudeness.

Then I jumped off trail to poop and found this stealth site. It’s sheltered from the wind. And I thought, yeah. Yeah. Take the 6, hunker and sleep, feel better, and tomorrow blast through the whole bear zone and the no-tenting areas. See the ponies in the morning, like 8 or 9 am.

So here we are. 😀

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Hellooo, Virginia!

Mile 488.0—Bush camp [17.3 miles]
Saturday, April 27

Virginia was kind today! It was 44 and foggy when I ghosted out of Damascus by headlamp, but it warmed up enough to switch to shorts.

Hiking in tights feels weird. On the other hand, they’re either marginally warmer than, just as warm as, or marginally less warm than the pants I sent home. I like them. They’re definitely lighter.

The trail alternated between magic secret lagoon and high airy pine forest. Lots of flat bits, lots of bikes on the Virginia Creeper Trail on a warm sunny Saturday in April.

What even is a weekend? What even is a day?

Sometimes I pass one of my old campsites and it takes me right back. I passed one today; I guess it must have been my first site out of Damascus. A flat spot above a still pool (“stagnant pond” per Guthooks). I slept well there, if I recall correctly, and whined about my heavy food carry. But the spot’s gone now—choked with downed trees and deadfall. It’s a weird feeling, to have both images right there at the same time. I hope that flat perfect spot stll exists in some subtle fold of time.