The last major climb in NC was Roan Mountain and the few balds after. Roan would be my last 6000 footer until NE. That sounded sweet to me!
Roan and beyond did not disappoint. The 10 plus mile stretch had the best views I've seen thus far on the journey. I posted a video of the 360 view on FB and happily got a ton of responses to its beauty and my good mood.
For the first few weeks climbs beat me into submission. I always had this feeling as I approached a climb of being sure to do my best, hanging in there and just facing the fact that it was gonna HURT. Now I love the climbs! Feeling strong I thrive for the climb. With the elevation coming down for a bit Im gonna miss the satisfaction of reaching a peak. There will be plenty of beauty in different forms but honestly nothing beats climbing for 3 hours, emerging at the top and seeing views that resemble an Ansel Adams photograph.
A close second to beautiful scenes are the incredible hosts of hostels. I've been to 3 more hostels since leaving CC's (she fits the bill of an awesome host) and I've been amazed by the hospitality. I'm constantly asked, "What can we do for you?" "Any needs you have we can make it happen." More amazingly it's anywhere from $10 to $20 for the stay, shower and laundry and then because they truly love hikers they welcome you to their kitchen, cook you breakfast and provide many other things to keep the positive vibe of the hike going.
the North has a lot to live up to in comparison to the hospitality of the South. I may not agree with all their views but you can't argue that they truly care for people that come through their land. To the Mountain Harbor B&B (most incredible breakfast in my life! Biscuits and gravy to die for), Kincora hiking hostel (Bob does everything on honor system and bought this place strictly to live his life out taking care of hikers) and Woodchuck hostel (Damascus showing why it's considered the friendliest hiking town on the AT) thank you thank you and thank you!!!! This hike truly would be impossible if it wasn't for the love provided along the way.
Now as far as the actual hiking goes I've been busy since I last checked in. Out of NC, busted through Tenn and emerged in the big state of Virginia. Like in my running days I've literally put my head down (Occasionally looked up for the scenery) and pushed hard and long through each day. In a 5 day span I hiked 76 miles with my longest day being a 24 miler. Some days I've felt fantastic and other days I've felt 40 ( 40 can be fantastic but it can also be old. Just saying..)
Everyone hurts out here regardless of age. We work hard and put our bodies through a lot. On my good days I tell myself 40 is the new 20. It doesn't really work but I do feel pretty damn good. On March 21st I was 180lbs. Now I'm 155lbs. Yes I'm eating! I'm eating a lot actually but you burn a sh*t ton of calories and with the bigger milage you can't eat enough to keep up. Instead of 3/4 stops a day to snack I'll up it to 5/6 times.
The other big turn of events on the trail is the weather. Much like NE it seems we are skipping a season. Straight from winter to good old summer. The last week has been hikes in the high 70's and low 80's. Yeah it's not a bunch of burners but try hiking 7 plus hours up and down with a 35lb pack on your back. Waaaaaarrmmmm!!!!! Can't wait for the 100 plus days in Penn and beyond. The plus of this is I get to send my winter gear home soon. Less weight in the pack and more room for food. That's what I call getting your priorities straight.
The boys and I are still together. Every time it seems there's gonna be some separation we find ourselves 2 or 3 days later in the same camp. I'm sure we all in our own way enjoy our "me" time but when we have those days reuniting we certainly are happy to get the band back together. It's actually pretty amazing when people see me and ask, "Boston? Where's the rest of the 6 pack?" Having a reputation and being known makes the hike even more insane and that's saying a lot because there are a million things that are crazy about this hike.
Well I'm in Virginia now. My 4th state out of 14. I'm just shy of 500 miles. I'll hit that mark in the next couple days. Maybe more (Im zeroing today). Virginia is 530 plus miles so I'm gonna be here a bit. It's flatter than what I've been through. With my milage coming up its realistic that I get through here in 5 weeks give or take.
To get through the hike you set mini goals to reach. Milage, state borders, half way point etc. with Virginia being so long it can wear on you a bit. It's called the Virginia blues. Right now I'm not concerned about it. I mean I just got here so why over think it. I'll reach a 1000 miles in this state which will be one goal and soon after I'll reach Harpers Ferry in WV which is the half way point. Another goal! But it's not so much reaching the town of HF that excites me but what will be waiting for me when I emerge from the trail. Paw Cody will be there to greet me. That will be a great day. Bring some food Paw Cody :)
After 2 plates of waffles and writing this blog Im gonna get ready for a nice day in the sun. Good friend Renny from home is here to spend the day with me. We're gonna drink some PBR's and do some fly fishing. Later we're gonna grab some BBQ from a place in town that's known all around. I'm a city guy at heart but certainly down here Im getting use to the country life.
Sometimes the blog calls for what it really is. I do a lot of deep thinking and express those thoughts in my entries but sometimes it's just about the hike and the great folks and land around me.
I hear it's finally warm up there in Boston so enjoy it. Don't do the usual and complain about it. Certainly after the winter we went through. Get out and make the best of it and if you can be sure to hike the good hike.
Talk soon ya'll
Jesse AKA The Boston Mule