Wow! I can't believe it's been a week since my last post. I took my sweet time hiking the miles last week while waiting for my trail family, the Shady Creepers (formerly known as the Slacking Minglers.) The miles were relatively uneventful and the weather was beautiful, but just incredibly hot. Insanely hot. The nice part about hiking by myself, and only doing short miles was that I was able to stop often to enjoy views, smell the flowers, and take in that around me. The smells in the woods this past week have been so lovely. Strong sweet smells have just been flowing everywhere, I've been loving it.
In the middle of last week I stopped in a small town called Glasgow. The town is heavily oriented towards hikers and even has a free shelter in the middle of town complete with a shower, outlets, clotheslines, fire pit, and even a microwave! There were tons of thru-hikers there, and unfortunately a good number of them were very interested in the party side of the hiking lifestyle. I found this to be a bit much, and ended up spending some time alone from them - allowed for some nice reflection. It is so nice when towns like Glasgow embrace the hikers and provide us with help. Not every town is as open or receptive of our kind. It has definitely been my intention to be as courteous as possible when in town, to keep our reputation on the positive side. One of the main rules of hiking is "Leave No Trace." I believe that rule also applies while in town, and I am proponent of that. We may be Hiker-Trash, a self-given term of endearment, but we know how to behave in town respectfully.
On Friday, I FINALLY met up with my trail family! Eric came up behind me shortly after I left my shelter that morning - they were coming in from the shelter that was eight miles south of me. In time we met up with Alice up the trail at a water source. The plan was to get a hitch into town and spend the night in Buena Vista for some Mexican food, showers, laundry, and a bed. We were offered a ride from Miss Janet, a well known Trail Angel who supports hikers up and down the AT. It was pretty cool to meet someone you've read about so many times. Once at the hotel we met up with Audrey, Nichole, and Caroline who greeted us with cold beers. It was such a fun reunion and felt so good to be back with the crew.
The trail family has been great and slowed down the miles a bit to allow my knee even more time to acclimate. We hiked two more days over some amazing terrain. I missed a lot of the balds (mountains with large open fields on the tops) in Southern Virginia, but we came upon a few on Saturday and they were so gorgeous. I spend most of my day hiking in what is called the Green Tunnel and when we get a chance to have sweeping vistas to look at, it is such a treat. The weather was also PERFECT that day - mid 70s, low humidity, and the occasional cloud cover. It was maybe the best hiking day so far.
Yesterday, Nichole's mom picked us up (and somehow fit seven people and their packs in a Subaru) and brought us to this quaint little cottage in one of the valleys of Virginia. The cottage overlooks all of the mountains we've hiked in the last few days as well as some rolling farm pasture. We ate dinner on the porch last night and were greeted with a large herd of cows. It was all so tranquil and lovely. I spent a good hour or so just walking the grounds and enjoying the scenery. A HUGE Thank-You to Heather and Nichole for arranging this lovely time off the trail. Heather met us with fresh fruits and veggies as well as cold beers at the trail - so appreciated!
I've definitely reached that point of the trail where it's harder for me to be inside than outside. Obviously it's nice to sleep on a real bed and take a shower, but I'm starting to feel confined while inside. I experienced this some after being on the Long Trail, but I have a feeling because this is a much longer experience, this feeling may last a lot longer this time.
I believe we've hiked almost all of the really steep/hard sections in Virginia, and from here things should really level out. My hope is that with easier terrain ahead, it should give my knee a really good chance of strengthening and allow me to finish this trail. Fingers crossed. Also, I've hiked over one-hundred miles since getting back on the trail. Truthfully, that's much further than I predicted my knee to last.
Hope all is well with you, and that your Summer is off to a great start!