Day 109: Grrr

Mosby Campsite [mile 968.7]

I’m all alone at this great little campsite with its own spring! How did this happen? Oh, right; there was a hostel bailout at fhe end of Shenandoah, and a big town bailout point (Front Royal, Virginia) three miles back, and the next actual shelter, in about 1.5 miles, is a luxury shelter with a porch, chairs, and a solar shower. The smart hikers are at those places! πŸ™‚

One thing I realized: My hike has been quite an outdoor adventure. Yeah, I need those zeros in town… but that’s because I’m spending up to two weeks out here. When I get to Harpers Ferry, I’ll have been in the woods for fourteen days, I think—and mostly stealth camping. Maybe I really am turning into Grizzly Adams.

So, listen. I woke up fussy and grumpy! That’s OK; I was due for one of those. And it all turned out great, because I hit a huge milestone: Shenandoah is finished!

I didn’t sleep too well. It was already hot at 6:30 AM. But get this: When I woke up, one of my eyes was swollen nearly shut. I immediately thought I’d had a stroke or was turning into Forrest Whitaker. Once I ruled out those two, I settled on a fly bite somewhere near the eye. Then I did the only thing you can do out here when you’re sick or injured: I strapped on the pack and got stepping.

My vision was a little wonky all day because my glasses were sitting funny on the swollen part of my cheek. (The swelling declined considerably during the course of the day.) And today was hot. It may have been my hottest hiking day so far. Hard to tell without a thermometer. But it was the end of Shenandoah, and beautiful as she was, I was happy to reach the end of her at around noon.

Things got interesting after that. The trail got difficult and rocky, as if in punishment for the last few miles of easy walking. The first shelter came in about a mile, and a great looking place it was (although it was called a “wayside,” yet nobody was there to make me a cheeseburger!). It was early affernoon and I didn’t want to stop yet. I knew there were two road crossings coming up, and I was sure I could count on a stealth site somewhere around there.

NOT!

As it turns out, there’s nothing—nothing—flat enough and and free enough of rocks and poison ivy between that first shelter and this Mosby campsite. It’s a steep, deep, rocky jungle. Seven miles with absolutely nowhere to pitch a tent. And my feet had already been sore at the shelter! Needless to say, the afternoon was a deathmarch. Awful. But look! Because there was nowhere to camp, Virginia pulled 17 miles out of me today (plus the commute from last night’s shelter). Today, when it was hot enough to fry eggs on the rocks!

I feel very good about that. What a difference a couple of hours and being horizontal make. πŸ˜‰

For the rest of Virginia (probably three more days), I’m going to assume that stealth camping isn’t an option. I’ll stick to the book, even if it means a short day—which I can afford anyway, thanks to the long one (for me) today.

And I’m wearing my summer sleep clothes for the first time. They’re clean! Woohoo!

I’m back to thinking that maybe I should do the responsible thing and get off the trail after the big halfway point. I don’t know! It changes minute to minute. Maybe I’ll just hike north to the Delaware Water Gap and there I’ll be, standing at the bus station counter with my credit card in hand, and I’ll decide in that instant whether I’m taking the bus home to Philly or east to New York and from there, Katahdin.

When the time comes to decide, I’ll know what the decision should be!

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Categories: Appalachian Trail | Tags: | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Day 109: Grrr

  1. Derek Vreeland

    Listen to the trail. The trail is wise. If the trail is calling you a “dumbass” you should listen. Ha! In all seriousness, you can get off trail at DWG and then hike the rest of the trail next year or flip flop and finish up at DWG. Either way, follow your instincts. I have loved following you blog. I greatly admire your courage and perseverance (and sarcasim!). Grace and peace to you!

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