Virginia

Waynesboro, VA to Harpers Ferry,WV [1019 miles]

harpersa

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I am no longer in constant motion.

Instead, I am perched on the edge of the reflecting pool in Washington DC. Ducks glide across the water and tourists are occupied with snapping pictures. The sun is shining and my feet are soaking in the algae-coated water.

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Yesterday, these feet crossed a stream that marked 1000 miles.

(1000 miles!)

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My feet splash at the water.  This is my first zero day since Trail Days. My body might not be tired, but my mind is ready to rest.

A few days ago, I saw a friend’s Katahdin summit picture from many years ago.  He was dressed in warm layers and holding a champagne bottle in triumph. But what really struck me was the snow covering half of the Katahdin sign.  It makes me wonder.. Why is everybody hiking so fast? Why am I hiking so fast?  I want to slow down and build a tiny snowman at Katahdin.  To me, nothing sounds more lovely.

 

Advice for my next 1000 miles:

-Don’t be afraid to follow the blue blazes to a waterfall

-Don’t be afraid to lose the hiker bubble

-It’s okay to take a zero just to eat at a buffet

-Don’t be afraid to stop hiking in the middle of the day to read a book

-Take more photos

-Write more

-Worry less

 

I am taking some time off the trail to go to Chicago. I have to pack up the apartment and watch Luke graduate from his fellowship program before he heads to Africa.

Don’t worry. It’s a round-trip ticket…. I have another 1000 miles to hike!

 

Some photos from the last week:

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PS:  Thanks for the care packages, homemade cookies, and letters at Harpers Ferry!

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Categories: Virginia, West Virginia | 8 Comments

Daleville, VA to Waynesboro, VA [853 miles]

wayne
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There’s a shelter on the trail called The Priest Shelter.

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The log at this shelter has become a popular place for hikers to leave confessions. Most confessions are silly, such as “I don’t wash my pot out.” Yet, other hikers pour their souls out between those pages. I spent a long time reading the confessions and then left my own:

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I started to touch on a recent fear in my last confession.

I have known many blessings in my 28 years, yet have found no joy greater than that of a constantly changing horizon. This lifestyle has me constantly dreaming of ways to downsize my 17 pound pack. What can I do without? Every town stop has left me with fewer possessions.

Today, a hiker gave me the ultimate compliment: “Acorn, your pack is so small.”

Yesss!

In a few weeks, I head back to Chicago to pack up my apartment, and (hopefully!!) sell a lot of my belongings.

I confess.

I’m really, really scared.

The things that I worked so hard for hardly mean anything to me anymore. Why do I need all these things? For the past 2 months, everything I’ve needed, I have carried on my back.

Why does anyone need 15 spoons anyway?

PS. Virginia is stunningly beautiful. It’s been a very healing week for me.

PPS. In a few hours, I will walk into Shenandoah National Park. It will be a rainy week.. But I finally caught up to my hiker bubble last night!

Misery is best with good friends. I’m glad we are all together again.

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My next update will be from 1000 miles / Harper’s Ferry!! Whew!

Categories: Virginia | 9 Comments

Pearisburg, VA to Daleville,VA [719 miles]

todaleville

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I’m covered in sweat.

The trail keeps going up.

Up up up.

My pack digs into my shoulders.

I see the sky filtering between the trees.

I’m getting closer.

I hear laughter.

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And then suddenly… a clearing.. and there she is… as beautiful as I have always imagined. I look around and see hiker friends– some old and some new.

I know that everything is going to be okay. I am finally here.

McAfee Knob, Virginia

Mile 707

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I linger at the summit and watch the sunset with the other hikers. It is so beautiful, that I ignore the “no camping” rule and gently rope up 2 trees for my hammock.

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Illegal hammock hanging. I know. I feel bad. Really, I do.

Wait. No, I don’t.

At midnight, I awaken to headlamps as 3 more hikers arrive to camp here. Guess I wasn’t the only one with this great idea.

We all wake up at 6 am and watch the sunrise.

It lights up the sky.

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Virginia hasn’t been boring.

Virginia hasn’t been a long green tunnel.

Virginia hasn’t been easy.

Why so many rocks???

I am now 1/3 complete with the Appalachian Trail. I can’t believe it!

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PS: I peed off a cliff. Mom, aren’t you proud? (sorry, your daughter is nuts)

This entry is a little late. I’m actually at mile 800 right now. Sorry, I got sidetracked with walking.

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Categories: Virginia | 9 Comments

Damascus, VA to Pearisburg, VA [630 miles]

damtoperaa

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It is only noon and I’m already at the next shelter after hiking 10 miles. I should keep going, but I have decided to stop for the day. I miss my hiking partners, who I lost in the rain yesterday, so I decide to wait here for them.

I lay out gear to dry, sweep the floor in the shelter and organize everything in my pack.

Then I wait.

The news reaches me before they do.

“You’re Acorn? I have bad news for you. Your friends aren’t going to catch up today. Actually, they are never catching up. They left the AT today to hike the Grand Canyon instead.”

Oh.

I quickly pack my gear and do the only thing I know how to do anymore: I hike north.

It hurts.

I don’t want to believe it. I linger at a stream, rest a little longer on a log and keep looking back.

I am searching for their voices. I am searching for the jingle of dog tags on Jake’s collar as he races to catch me.

I hear only silence.

It is so loud.

This wasn’t supposed to happen. I was supposed to hike alone and not get attached.. But how can you hike with someone for 5 weeks and not grow attached? We share everything on the trail: food, water, laughs, dreams, good times and bad times.

I miss you guys and hope you rock the hell out of the Grand Canyon.
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I just spent the last 2 nights at Wood’s Hole Hostel. I feel renewed and ready to conquer more miles of trail. Thank you, Neville and Michael!!

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Also, thanks to all who have sent postcards, care packages, money and kind words.

It means the world to me.

I gotta run. The white blazes are calling my name.

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Categories: Virginia | 11 Comments

Erwin, TN to Damascus, VA [467 miles]

erwintodama

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After 35 days of hiking and 464 miles, I spot a sign along the trail.

Is this what I think it is?…

I try to restrain myself until I can see the letters carved into the wood.
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V-I-R-G-I-N-I-A

I stand there in the rain in complete disbelief.

Then, I lose it.

On Sunday, I hiked a marathon day (26 miles) into the longest state of the whole trail. Virginia owns a whopping 544 miles of trail.

Yep, This might take awhile. And I might need some audiobooks and a new pair of shoes.

The stats so far:
States: 4 (Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia)
Miles: 467
Showers: 7
Blisters: 4 (healed)
Bears: 0
Nero: 2 (nearly zero milers)
Zero: 3 (zero milers)
Gear updates: 1 (ditched water bladder for bottles)

I have:

-Slept in a barn

-Had mice chew holes in my gear

-Found morel mushrooms

-Watched a hiker cook a pork tenderloin on his first day out of town

-Carried 12 donuts into the woods for other hikers

-Peed standing up and shot snot rockets

-Developed sandpaper skin

-Tried to bathe under waterfalls

-Eaten a sick amount of junk food

-Gotten sick of the people who plan their miles like a military invasion

-Tried a 680 calorie honey bun

-Been a victim of credit card fraud

-Gotten “lost” (the path changes, but nobody bothers to cover up the old blazes. Didn’t really want to bushwhack, but I blindly follow blazes… even if it looks ridiculous.)

-Hiked too many miles in the rain

-Questioned my sanity

-Loved every moment (mostly)

It’s been a little over a month and I am still loving the trail. Although.. It feels like time is flying past and I am just clinging to these moments.

I have met new hikers and said “goodbye” to others.

Time flies. I need to be thankful for my time here. It’s precious.

Laugh more. Worry less. Take more pictures.

PS: Thanks Tina, for the awesome care package! The dried mangoes really helped my morale on a rainy day.

Here are a bunch of random pictures from the last week:

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The AT is moments of fun separated by very long walks.

Categories: Tennessee, Virginia | 7 Comments

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