140 mile week

4/26 Relax Inn Atkins, VA to Tentsite (15.4 miles) 

Last night we were all up pretty late in the motel room, but we were laughing about various different things the whole time. I am really enjoying having the four of us together, and it’s pretty amazing that I have gotten to know them so well after only a few days together. When we woke up this morning none of us  had slept well, and we went over to the restaurant and had a very mediocre breakfast.
After breakfast we headed back to the motel to catch the ride to the post office and Dollar General that we had arranged for between 8:45 and 9. We got there at 850 only to find out that it had already left. However, an electrician was leaving the motel and Bevo asked if we could catch a ride to the Dollar General. He said we could catch a ride, but when Bevo went to get in the passenger seat the driver pointed to the bed of his pickup. Bevo complied and we all enjoyed a cold windy ride in the bed of his pickup to the Dollar General. Can’t complain since it was free.

None of us had much food to get because Bombadill and Stitch mailed themselves too much food, so Bevo, Bright Bags and I were able to get most of what we needed from them. After finishing up at the Dollar General Bevo and Bright Bags got a ride back on the shuttle (Stitch stayed at the motel), but I had to go to the post office to mail my blaze home and some stuff for Stitch. The women helping me as incredibly nice and helpful and I hope we packaged the blaze safely.
After I mailed it off I was able to get a hitch back to the motel and we packed up, but didn’t get out of the motel until 10:40 which is a very late start for us.

The low point of our day today came shortly after lunch and series of climbs and descents that yielded no views. We were all very tired because of the lack of sleep and what seemed like pointless climbs. We did our best to be positive, but it sure was tough.

One plus side was that I remembered a very effective way to drink water quickly is to turn your bladder into a water bong (like beer bong, but for hydration). Since I chug t least a liter every time we stop for water, this was very effective.

After a few more pointless ups and downs (PUDs) we arrived a beautiful meadow. The most annoying part of it was the view came at one of the lowest elevations of the day. Thankfully within a few miles we can across a stream that was perfect for swimming, and Bevo and I jumped in to enjoy it. It was definitely a good pick me up for our last few miles.
We we finally got to camp and and after we finished our dinners, we enjoyed some of the s’mores that Stitchs friend had sent with her resupply. It was a nice way to end the tough day.

I would definitely say today was one of the least enjoyable days I have had on the trail. While the weather was pretty nice (a little hot) the numerous PUDs, late start, and lack of a good night sleep made it a tough day for all of us. I hope we can have a better day tomorrow.

4/27 Tentsite to Jenkins Shelter (19.5 miles)

I forgot the mention yesterday that we crossed the 25% point in terms of miles. We probably aren’t at 25% in terms of Secret Agent units since the north is harder. Stitch is encouraging me to make the units more clearly quantifiable, in the form of an Excel spreadsheet. That might be a task for a really boring zero, but it will likely have to wait to after the hike (and probably not even then).
It rained for most of the night, but I still got a good night sleep because I was so tired. I was very thankful that it stopped raining before we had to start packing up. Putting a wet tent away is better than putting a wet tent away in the rain.

It was very muggy this morning, which made the first part of the day pretty hot. It got really bad when we were about 1/2 up a 2000 ft climb, but cleared up when we as got higher. I was feeling great on the trip up, so I was really enjoying the climb despite the lousy weather. We got to the top and there were some ok views, but nothing compared to what we have had before.

It started raining as we descended down, so I put on my rain coat. I quickly regretted this choice as I ended up drenched in sweat instead of rain. I don’t think I will be wearing any rain gear while hiking anymore unless it is very cold out

Over the last 4.5 miles Bright Bags and I discussed a wide range of economics issues from apples to the financial crisis. It was mostly me giving him the background, but it was fun to talk about. It also gave him a chance to get to know my life outside the trail a little better. I had interrogated him about his life, and this gave him the opportunity to do the same.
I am sleeping in the shelter tonight since it is suppose to rain and thunderstorm tonight and I don’t feel like putting a wet tent away in the morning.

These last few days of 20 mile days have been tough, but I like them even if we get into camp late. So far my body has been holding up well for them. I think they are a little long for everyone else, so I am not sure that we are going to keep them up after our next zero.

4/28 Jenkins Shelter to Tentsite (24.2 miles) 

Today was pretty uneventful, other than the lack of water. In the morning I got up to speed on all of Bright Bags interests, including an in depth teaching of World of Warcraft and metal bands. It was interesting to learn about something I didn’t really otherwise know about.
We started the day thinking that there would be 3 places to get water. The first was four miles in, but none of us got very much since it was so early in the day. The next was at a shelter in 13.5 miles, which I could usually do with 1 liter (what I normally carry since I chug >1L every time we fill up). When we were about 2 miles before the shelter there were some sodas and water left by a trail angel. I drank 1/2L there and took 1/2L for the road just in case. When we got to the shelter 13.5 miles away, we realized that it was 1.6 miles round trip to the water source. To be fair, this was clearly stated in the guide book, but we hadn’t read it closely since water hasn’t been an issue. The next water source was 6.9 miles north, we each had at least half a liter so we decided to press on.
It was warm and sunny for these 6.9 miles, so we were all very parched and irritable when we got to the water source. Each of us quickly chugged at least 1.5L and I was very happy to have the gravity filter system which allowed us to filter the water quickly with very little effort.

This water source was a great example of the value of several different guide books. This source was a small spring that was only 25 yards off trail, but not at all visible until you are right on top of it. It was listed on the Guthook App that Bevo and I have, but not in the AWOL guide. There have been numerous other water sources and tent sites that are only listed in one of them. I would think that each of them would look at each other’s guide and add in the things that they are missing, but that is not the case. Hiking with people who have different guides is one of the many benefits of hiking in a group.

4/29 Tentsite to Woods Hole Hostel (20.7 miles)

Bevo has informed me that we have walked 143 miles in the past 7 days. My body is definitely ready for a Nero and zero and I am not sure that pressing this speed for such a long period is something I want to do again, unless it is needed (as it was this time since Bevo’s wife met us here).
Bevo, Bright Bags, and I woke up early to make sure we could get a bed at the hostel. Stitch decided to sleep in and have us save her a spot.

The morning was pretty boring, but we moved very quickly, and got 13 miles done before lunch. The trees have finally started to grow their leaves, which is good because it is getting hot, but also bad because our views will be blocked.

There was a steep 1500 ft climb after lunch. The first half was very tough and steep, but the second half of the was flatter and led to a great view.

We got to the hostel/B&B  which is also an organic farm. It was a very granola cruncher establishment that stressed how they grow their own vegetables and meat for dinner. While they were starting to prep dinner they informed us that their spring was out of water. Thankfully, I had already taken my shower. Stitch and I filtered water for them to make rice, and they were still able to pull off a great dinner. While we were skeptical they would have enough food for all us hungry hikers, they stayed true to their promise of always having leftovers.

The food for dinner was spectacular. Definitely the best that I have had on the trail so far. I am looking forward to breakfast in the morning. Bright Bags once again proved his eating prowess, inhaling two burritos before pretty much every finished their first.
Bevo once again used his slackpacking prowess, and we will be slackpacking the 10 miles in Pearisburg tomorrow. Since this is a communal based establishment, Stitch and I switched off helping clean the dishes so we could each give Bevo the stuff we did not need for the night.

This was a very cool place to stop, and I would recommend it to all future thru hikers. That being said, if you aren’t into communal based places with the expectation that guests will help with the preparation and clean up, I wouldn’t recommend staying here for more than a day.

4/30 Woods Hole Hostel to Pearisburg, VA (11.1 miles) 

After a great breakfast at Woods Hole we headed out for a short walk into Pearisburg. It was foggy and rainy all morning, so we missed out on what was supposed to be very nice views. It was disappointing to miss out on them, but such is life on the hike.
We got the the trailhead and hitched a ride to our motel room. It started raining just as we arrived at the motel. We went to lunch at the nearby Dairy Queen and Bright Bags finished a 3000 calorie meal. His eating prowess continues amaze us.

Stitch, Bright Bags, and I headed to the grocery store to get some beer and Goodwill to get some town clothes for when we do laundry. Bright Bags and I will be leaving ours in the hiker box when we head out so the next thruhikers don’t need to make the same trip. Stitch initially made fun of us for buying clothes to wear once, but was converted when she saw a pair of flannel PJ pants.
We just hung out until dinner at an all you can eat Chinese buffet. We were all still pretty full from lunch so we did not eat as much as we could have (although all still had 2 plates).
We went to the Food Lion after dinner where Bevo gave us all a life pro-tip. When at a grocery store where you don’t have a rewards card, type in Jenny’s phone number (8675309) with the local area code and there will be another person who used this number to sign up and you won’t need to sign up for a card.


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