(82) Wednesday, June 11
(83) Thursday, June 12, 9:00PM
Today begins my final stretch in Virginia; by Sunday night I'll be out of Virgina, finally! I know I've been putting miles behind me, but it will be nice to be able to measure my progress as I pass through more states now.
I'm staying in a shelter tonight all by myself, so I set up my tent in the shelter. With it raining out, I can enjoy the dry security of my tent without fussing with my rainfly. I'm doing this because of an odd assortment of circumstances. The shelter register makes several mentions of at least one enormous rat that drags gear out of the shelter and down to it's den. People have woken up with socks and sandals missing. There also aren't many decent tent sites, and I really wanted to tent. All this accounts for my tent being inside the shelter.
The weather is predicted to be hot and humid over the next several days with chances of rain thrown in. I'm just three days from Harpers Ferry now, so I don't think that I'll be letting much slow me down between here and there. Tomorrow may be a twenty mile day if all goes well.
10.7 miles Today, 953.1 MTD
(84) Friday, June 13, 9:30PM
Today is Friday the thirteenth, whatever that means. I pulled my twenty mile day today even though I didn't get started until 9:00 this morning. It rained all through the night and was still raining when I awoke, so I wasn't eager to get going. The weather behaved oddly all day with intermittent sunshine mixed with an occasional drizzle, but it was always stifling with humidity.
I tried for the longer day, because it helps break up a section refered to as "the rollercoaster" into two days. The last seven miles today accounted for about half of this tough section where there are about seventeen hills in succession adding up to over 5000 feet in elevation gain, thus its name. The hills were even tougher with the heat and humidity. I was overheated and soaked through from perspiration when I reached camp. I bathed and put on some dry clothes while consuming copious quantities of fluids, now I feel great.
I'm tenting near a shelter occupied by several familiar people: Lewis & Clark, Bones, Smiles, and some others. It sounds like I'll see plenty of them the next two days since we're all pretty much on the same itinerary into Harpers Ferry. They're a good group so I won't mind.
The hike today felt like I was in a jungle. The vegetation was really out of hand. I remember from working on my dad's land just how fast weeds can grow, and with the rain they got recently they've nearly consumed the trail. Poison ivy is very prevalent through this section of trail, but who can see it through all the other weeds? Everybody's watching for signs of a breakout from the poison ivy. It could really make for some miserable hiking. Some of the hikers are really complaining about the weeds. I understand a little better just how hard they are to keep up with. When I hit sections of the trail that have been maintained, everything looks great, but they just can't maintain the whole trail at the same time.
Tomorrow will just be about eleven miles with the rest of "the rollercoaster." The shorter distance should help make it manageable. I just hope we get a little relief from the humidity. Perspiration only goes so far to cool the body.
20.3 Miles Today, 973.4 MTD
(85) Saturday, June 14, 9:00PM
I am stuffed. I just had a great meal here at the Blackburn Trail Center. I'm staying in the Center's Hiker Hostel along with Lewis & Clark, Green Man, Smiles, Bones, and Privy Boy. We happened to luck out by coming here on a weekend. The PATC (Potomac AT Club) runs this center, and there were about twenty of them here building an addition to the main building. Their presence meant there was a cookout that included us. We enjoyed a salad, hamburgers, baked beans, and potatoes au gratin. And after I volunteered my fellow hikers to join me in the clean up, we were served strawberry shortcake. It was truly a feast. Our clean-up effort was greatly appreciated as well.
Today's hike was another humid one with the last climbs of the rollercoaster. I'm glad it wasn't a long day. I got into the center before a late afternoon downpour and cleaned up before kicking back. I slept in this morning and visited another hostel (Bear's Den) near the trail before noon. Tomorrow I'll be out of Virginia. I'll say no more.
10.9 Miles Today, 984.2 MTD