My pace has definitely picked up since entering Virginia. That's partly because the terrain is a bit easier, but mostly that's because I'm finally in shape. I'm hiking 20+ miles a day on average and over 100 a week.
The stretch of trail between Marion and Pearisburg crosses many open fields, mostly flat ridge tops, and some historic houses. In short Virginia is a beautiful state.
These four days also provided a few surprises, a great reminder to always embrace what's in front of you and take notice of the small things. The first day out of Marion, the trail crosses through the tiny, tiny town of Atkins and a couple of restaurants. Lost & Found and I didn't know about it, and when we came out of the woods to see establishments with real food, we were ecstatic. We then stopped by a gas station after lunch to pack out a beer for dinner. Double win!
A couple days later, we awoke with the sunrise. We had plans to hike 22 miles to Bland where we both had packages waiting. I had mine sent to the hostel, but Lost & Found had hers sent to the post office. The problem with the PO is that they sometimes have weird hours. In order to get the package before the PO closed, we had to hike 22 miles by 3:00.
We strategized stops, hiked fast, and got to the road crossing right at 3:15. We had 45 minutes to get there. Plenty of time. Except our shuttle was over an hour away. Damn. We hiked so fast to get thwarted by a ride.
So we tried hitching on a very deserted road. After 30 minutes a car finally stopped! The girl who picked us up had worked as a shuttle driver at Fontana. We got there just in time for Lost & Found to pick up her mail drop.
The trail still throws its best curve balls though. The day before entering Pearisburg, the sun beat down on our tired bodies mercilessly, extracting our energy like an oil baron bleeding the ground dry of its precious resources. I ran out of water by noon.
No problem, several springs showed up ahead on my guide book. The first one was dry. The second one was dry. By the third stream, I had flung away my optimism like shoes without soles. It of course was dry as well. We had walked 10 miles of hot, rocky, life sucking trail. Defeated, we sat next to the dry stream bed. We were chasing gold at the end of a rainbow. We wanted towns right there. But we had to go on.
Summoning what insufficient energies we had left, we pressed onward with 4 miles left to town. Four miles never seemed so long. Our pace seemed barely more than a crawl. Two miles later, we saw a sign that said "Spring .2 Miles." Normally I wouldn't think twice about taking an almost half mile round trip side trail for water. Way too long. Not today. With fingers crossed, Lost and Found headed down the trail while I watched our packs.
Fifteen minutes later, success! I have never been so happy for water in my life. I guzzled the first liter of water, savoring the cool, rejuvenating force of life. In much better spirits we descended the ridge and into Pearisburg for much needed rest, shower, and food.
The little things always matter more than we think they do. God will always provide. Life is truly beautiful, maybe more so because of the struggles and challenges. Overcome, they aren't merely whitewashed walls, but a separate work of art entire.
I am a filmmaker. I am an adventurer. I believe in children. My friends are obsessed with my beard. I am obsessed with beer. I want to embrace and fully live this life I’m blessed with. I want to be known as someone who loves deeply.
On May 16, 2017 I set out on my dream, the adventure of a lifetime: a 2,189.8 mile trek of the Appalachian Trail. I want to push people to live their dreams and pursue their passions.