We have now done more than one third of the trail – went through the 33% mark early this morning.
Today it was exactly as hot as we expected it to be. Although we want to do around 32km a day we are limited to where there are shelters and campsites, and today’s target was set at 30km (and the roller coaster yielded 1335m ascent). Given the heat I was happy not having to have to do another 2km.
The mornings seem to be okay – the heat onslaught takes place in the afternoons and early evenings.
During our lunch break I admitted to Trevor that today was the first day that I was not enjoying myself. Even in the beginning when we were unsure of ourselves and crawling up Georgia’s mountains I was always happy to be on the trail. Today I wasn’t, I just felt down in the dumps.
He said that he was actually also not having a great day – he has a sore shoulder (I think it’s the new backpack which he hasn’t set up correctly; he thinks it is the way he slept last night), and we both think jumping forward to zero and then having to jump back to cover the stretch up to Daleville might have disrupted our rhythm.
And then there is the Virginia Blues. There are different definitions for it but it seems quite normal to get a bit down on this stretch through Virginia. The excitement of having to figure out how to walk hard, cook and live off dinners of 2min noodles, re-fuel and when to zero have worn off by now: getting into the second third of the trail you are an old hand at this. And the realisation that you have done all of this and walked this far, and still have to do two thirds….it’s enough to (if you don’t think about the rewards of the trail) make a grown man cry.
So on plodded two slightly blue South Africans. In the heat. And then a little treat. Where the trail runs close to a parking lot a man stood and was offering ice cold water, and zipped locked bags with ice. That cheered us up. We drank as much water as we could and he then filled up our bottles with ice and more cold water. We walked on for 3km, sat down here and had more of the still ice cold water (feeling more in touch with the trail again):
It was round about 16h30 when we got our next treat. The trail was crossing a road and dipping back into the green tunnel, next to a parking lot. I walked to the rubbish bin (it’s always nice if there is an opportunity to empty your rubbish bags else you carry it with you) when a softly spoken young woman jumped out of the parked car and said she is doing trail magic and would we like something cold to drink.
Now we weren’t expecting any trail angels to be out this late but how glad we were that she was sticking around to see the sunset; we got some ice cold drinks, memorial day cake, carefully considered hiker-treats goodie bags and a 15min chat to Sweet Seana, who loves hiking and hopes to tackle the AT in 2021. As always the generosity of the trail angels made us feel so small and as we left to walk the last 5km of the day we both felt our moods have lifted: Seana drove 65miles and spent a day of her long weekend in support of the hikers, the hikers should be deserving of this act of kindness – down with the Virginia Blues!