Winter Appalachian Trail – Day 43 (32 miles)
My alarm went off at 3.30am. Did I regret making this decision last night? Absolutely!
I let out the air from my mattress which I find a great way of forcing the issue and packed up. I was pleasantly surprised that even this early it was still warmer than yesterday. I also did not need to use my headlamp and could simply rely on the brilliance of the supermoon. This might be a good experience after all.
It started with a hike down from the Priest and I had started the climb up 3 Ridges as the sun introduced itself. 3 Ridges was the first hike I did in the US on this trip way back in in spring. I was suspired how much I remembered of that day, I remembered where we stopped for a break, met people and the like. It was also interesting seeing the stark differences between the lush spring colours and the muted winter browns.
I tried to replicate the previous situation. The first time, Big Ups and I hiked up as fast as possible and I remember sitting on a rock at the top resting and trying to catch my breath. I pushed hard this time as well but, unsurprisingly, I found my cardio had improved immensely. It is amazing how things change!
I was excited to be meeting Big Ups and Jess tonight and continued to plow on as the trail basically followed the Blue Ridge Parkway road. I thought that I was running late for a pre-arranged meeting so started jogging sections of the trail. I met Big Ups in 2015 on the PCT and we hiked 99% of the trail together.
At noon I stopped for some water and a snack break. I realized I was not only on track but would arrive early. But I could not slow down now; once I begin to run walking feels weird. I don’t know the best way to describe the feeling. Maybe it is the equivalent of going from a sports car to a scooter? Everything feels slow, unresponsive and kind of boring.
I arrived early enough that I (unsuccessfully) tried to hitch into Charlottesville rather than wait. I got a ride but I was chatting to the person in the car and they unconsciously went home which was not where I wanted to go.
I got dropped off at a gas station 11 miles on the other side of town. I tried to hitch back for 2hrs but eventually got picked up by Jess on her way home.
We spent the rest of the day catching up over dinner. They had just finished the 2800 mile Great Divide Bike Route so they had some epic stories of lightning, fires and general trail life of their own.