Mile 723.5 Daleville VA

DSC01034I see why they call this the Virginia Blues. The initial excitement of the trail has waned for many thru-hikers. Some have gone home willingly, others injured. The crowds on the trail have disappeared and now I camp with only a few others each night instead of the 20+ as earlier on the trail. Despite the many frustrations and challenges of the trail I’m pushing on strong. I’m not injured and certainly not one to give in to a little bit of complication. These complications you may ask? Rain, cold, then suddenly hot!, sweating till your shirt is completely soaked, running low on food, running low on water, finding that a “flat section” on the map is really a terribly rocky never-ending ridgeline, friends from earlier on the trail are nowhere to be found, literally losing my shirt (at least it wasn’t my phone this time), sore feet bottoms, sunburn, gnats, ticks, and sometimes boredom.
However, each of these troubles come to an end. Great things are just around the corner. When I was low on food I ran into Spirit (who’s supporting her husband’s thru-hike via RV) and gave me a ride to the grocery store! She has quickly become my favorite person on the trail. She gave me a powerade, a cookie, some mixed nuts, and even a hug for this less-than-clean hiker. In fact, over this last 90 mile section I went the longest ever (5 days) without a shower. I’ve heard of other hikers going 11 days. That’s what Rainbow Braid told me. But she said it was pretty terrible. I hope to never find out!
I’m approaching the 1/3 point on the trail and have passed the 700 mile mark! I just sent home my winter sleeping bag and frameless backpack. In their place I’ve got a summer bag and an internal frame pack to help keep the sweat off some. The new fancy gear purchasing also give me a reason to push on. Men love gear. And not using it is a shame. Every man who owns a chainsaw should be on the constant look-out for opportunities to use it. I met some trail maintainers a couple weeks back carrying a chainsaw. They asked me if I saw any down trees on the trail. I told him “there are a few back a ways that can give you an excuse to use your chainsaw” and a smile beamed back from his face.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the difference between a “home” and a “homestead” since visiting the Wood’s Hole Hostel. They had goats, chickens, guinea hens, gardens, etc. It was a real homestead. A home has a mortgage, utilities bills, and is only lived in for 10 years. A homestead is paid off, passed down for many generations, and makes money for it’s owners by raising animals or crops on the land or being used as a B&B. Everyone should have a homestead. But, then again, not everyone can be born into such a family. Everyone should strive to make a homestead to pass down to their children. It’s difficult in this fast-paced world to remain in any one city for many years, but what an amazing blessing for those who have a real homestead to return to after traveling, going to the college, or working in another city. If only we all had parents or grandparents with picture perfect farms and Wizard of Oz scarecrow fences.
Over the last section I did miles of about 10, 23, 18, 24, and 17. I’m thinking of taking a 0 day tomorrow; just my 4th on the trail. Maybe some people I know will catch up. I’ve got to go check on some laundry but will be adding more later!
OK, back. I just met up with Temp, Stumbles, Alex, Shaman, Steady, Spirit, and Blue for dinner at the Three Blind Pigs restaurant. I ate vegetables which are so hard to find along this trail in Appalachia.