Walking out of my B&B this morning and back on the trail felt amazing. Away from the New York Times and the spiral of bad news and into the clean air and sunshine. The familiar white blazes were there to welcome and guide me back into the forest. My heavy pack felt reassuring and familiar. As I walked higher up into the hills and away from the road I felt my body release and my mind settle down. Nothing about this seemed wrong or unethical. It feels like the best place for me right now. I feel healthier, happier and stronger.
We hiked most of the day near the beautiful Virgina Creeper trail that winds more than 33 miles along an old railroad line. It is an ideal location for cycling, hiking, camping, trout fishing, running and rafting. I can see now why my Aunt Barbara and Uncle Jimmy have been cycling here for so many years. There were a few cyclists out but the highlight was this friendly horseback rider that warned us about a snake on the next bridge. His accent was so strong that I thought he said there was a “snack bar on the next bridge” but Mallwalker was able to translate for me that he said “there is a snake there on the bridge”. Dang it. Snack bars are way better than a snake there.
The stream that ran along the trail was so strong and clean that we were tempted to camp short of our goal to go for a swim but it was only in the upper 50s so we pushed on to our 17 mile goal and got into camp around 4:30 and had a nice dinner and built a big fire. We lazed around the fire and watched the sun droop down the Grayson Highlands. These are my favorite moments on the trail. A full belly and all the camp chores are done. No cell phone coverage and I can just sit around the fire and stare into the flames.
Pancho and Ohso joined us a little later and we are going to try to stay together for a while. Pancho is going to hike a bit with us and has a car back in Damascus to help us resupply if we run into problems. It might come to that soon but hoping that the next few towns are as friendly as Damascus.
The moon rose just as we were headed to our tents and it is going to be a cool, quiet and peaceful evening. We are planning to sleep in tomorrow and start our hike around 8. I am looking forward to seeing the Grayson Highlands and hopefully some of the wild ponies over the next few days. Hooves crossed.