Or so they say. Virginia is long gone geographically but we still feel the massive impact that state had on the whole trail existence. It took me 38 days to get through Virginia.
Some people were getting tired of the trail in mid-late VA. And now many of these people are sadly no longer with us. Dead and gone….. buried at sea. Well, no, really most of them are at home. but yeah. a couple regret leaving trail. most, no. Everyone has a reason for quitting. Money, girl, boredom, already getting all you can from the experience. But really the fact Virginia is so long really grates on some people. It’s the same thing over and over again. Come rain or shine (mostly intense shine this year) wake up, do the same thing then repeat. And you’re still in the same state!
However Virginia is a very varied state and all are excited at the start but you see the cracks when the temperatures start to soar. At least this year. I was hot and bothered in Waynesboro, VA. The last thing I wanted to do was hike on June 29th (morn of hugeee storm), so I went and bought a canoe and some supplies and we planned a 150 mile river trip rather than hiking in the woods for the same distance. Although I’m a little bothered about not walking every single mile, it was the Shenadoahs and I needed a change. 4 days of hiking for 4 days of canoeing? Sign me up!
150 miles in 4 days. Not bad ey?! Well, not quite! We put a hole in the canoe portaging Luray Dam. Pretty hilarious. Our arms were tired so we just started walking again. Well rested. I felt revitalised but it wouldn’t be long before my worst day.
Coming out of Front Royal was a hideous day on trail. We started at 2pm in 105* heat. I wanted to die. The AT seemed like the worst idea I have ever had. Quitting is not an option but I definitely fantasised with the idea that day. Not seriousy, more like a morbid peek into my own soul, motivations, determination, weaknesses and strengths. It was short lived and had one of my best days on trail the next day although I was a little mentally fragile. So there you go, don’t quit on a bad day.
Ever since Harper’s Ferry (the end of Virginia) the trail has been really different. So many dropped out and so many took a break in DC or wherever the hikers in each section suddenly totally switches up. I found myself with brand new folks. In may ways it was like starting the trail all over again.
If you’re going to quit, budding young thru-hiker, you (and you very likely will) don’t quit at Harper’s Ferry, quit at the exact halfway point about 100 miles later. By then you may have very well found your second wind.