2 months down
Virginia keeps getting weirder and weirder…. as we landed in Glasgow, VA, we were greeted by a giant statue of a dinosaur with a scantily clad cave woman riding it.
It hasn’t been long since my last post, but the environment has changed drastically. This particular section of the trail crosses back-and-forth over the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is an odd sensation to get to the shelter at night and hear the noisy hubbub of cars and motorcycles. Nonetheless, we have had some breathtaking scenery at the ample overlooks.
Spring is in full bloom and just keeps getting bigger and bigger. What was once a barren and leafless forest is now a lush, almost tropical, and fertile land. The trail is surrounded with brilliant hues of green and pink. The rhododendrons are exploding with clouds of pink blossoms and the vivid green plants seem giant and overwhelming. It is a scene straight from Jules Verne’s The Begum’s Millions–inside the lush, tropical forest at the heart of the city Stahlstadt.
Yesterday afternoon, we climbed out of the dense undergrowth and up to the crest of the mountains. The terrain took a complete 180 and the humidity of the understory quickly disappeared in the arid, savannah-like environment. The trail took on another appearance as well. Typically we tread over graded paths covered with dense leaves and sticks. The path at the top of the mountain looked like a hand-crafted mosaic of yellows and oranges. It seemed as if a mason had smashed up hundreds of kitchen tiles and placed them ever-so-carefully on the trail. When you spend hundreds of miles looking around at the trees and the trail, you tend to notice these things and appreciate them.
As for the challenges of the AT, at this point one of our biggest concerns is the heat. The climate has changed drastically since we started two months ago. Now we must pay attention to our water sources, protect ourselves from the sun, and make sure that we are staying hydrated. Each morning we study our trail guide for water sources. We always make sure to carry two liters and fill-up before long stretches that have no water. Lately I have found that water alone just does not cut it. I found that I was drinking a gallon of water each day, but still felt terrible because my electrolytes were way off-balance. I broke down and started buying Gatorade drink mix (a salute to all you folks down there at Univ. of Fla. for creating the stuff!). I find that I must drink one to two liters of Gatorade each day if I am going to make it to camp without a serious headache or dry mouth. Right now, we talk about the intense heat that is to come in the summer months; we plan to wake early and hike in the cool of morning only to stop hiking in the afternoon. Then we will resume hiking in the evening. The heat is no joke and I myself cannot handle it very well. It is probably THE biggest obstacle I have to face in the coming months that will stand between me and Katahdin. I know it sounds lame, but the heat is SO intense sometimes.
In a few weeks we will be leaving Virginia–thank goodness! After that, the trail gets flatter and the mileage gets much easier. I cannot wait to hit the next state and see what it has to offer. Each new state makes way to a new phase of the journey. Now that it’s been two months since we started we have learned so much. I am equally excited to continue learning and growing.
Peace out and God bless -Fuzzy Navel