The last 10 days took its toll on me. Instead of just taking a day off, I have decided to take a break from the A.T. and head home for a while. I just boarded a Megabus headed for DC and am going to spend a day there with my mother and sister in law. I fly back to St Louis in 2 days. For now, my trek stands at just under 300 miles (294.5) in 4 weeks.
- I think the reason I need a break is that I was trying to keep up with the youngsters instead of hiking at my own pace. Averaging 12.5 miles a day in the mountains with a 20+ lb pack was too much for me. Although in order to make it to Georgia by my deadline I needed to hike that fast. I also have only taken one true “zero” day, at Skyland on day #10!
- The weather here was also getting pretty darn hot. Even at 3,000 ft it was near 80 degrees in the afternoon. That means a lot of sweat and increased hydration needed. (The humidity has dropped but it’s still high.)
- Water is becoming scarce. Two of the last three shelters I stayed at had no water. That wasn’t a surprise to me, but I carried almost 4 liters of water into these shelters. (8 lbs extra weight, usually up a few thousand feet)
- I was about to get into a stretch with fewer supply points. The next town is at least a 7 day hike for me. That means more food weight to carry.
- Less people are on the trail. Most all of the NOBO thru-hikers have passed headed to Maine. That makes things somewhat lonely, however I was never completely alone at a shelter. I was chasing Broken Feather, my good friend from NC, but only managed to “catch” him today at the local outfitter. He’s back on the trail; I would be staying in Daleville for a “zero” day.
- Bear activity is reported to be increasing. Not a big issue, but it is a small concern. I’ve gotten pretty good at hanging bear bags, which I do religiously. 🐻
So what’s in the plans? I have several options.
- I could quit here and call my trek a 300 mile section hike through the northern half of Virginia.
- I could return after a 1-2 week break and continue hiking south. If I do that I will likely skip a section and try to find Broken Feather, likely near the VA/NC border.
- I could rerun to hike a completely different section of the trail. Southern New Hampshire, Vermont, and Western Massachusetts are attractive. I would leave Maine, the White Mountains, and the 100 Mile Wilderness for another time but still be in cooler weather with many of the NOBO thru-hikers. I could also fly into Manchester, NH and out of Albany, NY. There’s plenty of time for another 250 miles or so at an easy pace.
So that’s it for now. Jeremy, don’t be critical. Brent, I’ll update you personally as soon as I decide my next move. If anyone would like to join me when/if I go back, please let me know.
I need to weigh myself in case I decide to quit here. But I’m pretty sure I’ve lost ~30 lbs. The bear count stands at 3. 🐻🐻🐻
PS – The Megabus is going north on I-81. We just passed Three Ridges and The Priest. I can see the spot where I took this picture. Wow!
Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. ― Ralph Waldo Emerson