Day 50: Breaking Up

Day 50

Doc’s Knob Shelter to Pearisburg VA

Miles Hiked: 9.4

AT Milage: 637.0

This morning I left camp at 6:30 AM. I was excited to get to town because I was supposed to eat at a Chinese buffet with Crunchy at 11am. I stopped at Pearis Ledges and looked at the view for a long time waiting for him to catch up to me so we could go in to town together. I realized he was hiking super slow or left really late to hike with Emma so I just continued on. I made it to the road at 10:30 am taking my good old time so he would catch up. At this point I realized he wouldn’t make it to the Chinese Buffet when we planned to go so I gave up. Obviously he was more interested in hiking with Emma. I called her to see how far away they were so we could all get a ride into town to this place called Angels Rest together because they pick up guests for free. Then Cocoa, Flamingo, and Flip passed me sitting all alone trying to figure out what to do. They offered for me to split a hotel room with them so I said yes. Splitting a motel room with 4 people makes it super cheap to stay in town. I was going to be staying alone anyways so I said yes to joining them! We hiked one more mile to the next road where we all had to stick our thumbs out to try and get a hitch. After about 5 minutes a guy pulled over and picked us all up to drive us to the motel. He has lived in Pearisburg all his life and enjoys picking hikers up off the trail when he drives by. We checked into the Holiday Motor Lodge. I only had to pay $35 for two nights! I will take a zero tomorrow. The motel is supper crappy but obviously 100 times better than the woods. I haven’t showered in 9 days since Damascus. After we checked into the hotel we walked to the post office so they could all get packages from the post office that their friends and family sent them. The first thing we did after that was go to a Mexican restaurant because we were all so hungry. I got a lot of hot and healthier food for cheap. It was great. Back at the motel I finally got a shower! Next was laundry time and resupply. We all walked our clothes to the laundry mat down town and then went to food lion to buy groceries. I bought a ton of fresh fruit and vegetables I had been craving. Later we all hitch hiked to Walmart that was 2 miles away. It’s funny how different walking is for enjoyment than necessity. In town we try to walk as little as possible since we had to walk a few hundred miles to arrive in town. The Walmart was 2 miles away but way too far for us to walk to for fun. For the rest of the day we just hung out in the motel eating our food and then walked to Dairy Queen for blizzards.

Emma and I have decided to split up for many reasons. We knew in Damascus that we would be splitting up soon, but hiking with Crunchy most likely prolonged the time we spent together that we shouldn’t have. Hiking with a partner from back home is strenuous on most people for many reasons. I’m not surprised it happened. In fact I completely expected it before she got out here. We both have different trail agendas and therefore have to treat this hike differently. We hiked together 20 plus days in a row before splitting up which I think is pretty impressive. Two months is quite a long time for someone to join you on a thru hike. I think if I knew she was only going to be out here for one month it might have gone a little bit differently.

Things have significantly changed for me on trail when I’ve had a family member or friend join me vs when I am out here on my own hiking and only interacting with other people who have also chosen to come out here alone. I’m so glad Emma came out here but getting to be alone was a huge part of this hike for me when I decided to do it. Having someone join me for two months takes that major aspect away. It’s great to have support from friends and family both on and off the trail. Deciding to do a thru hike is a selfish act in many ways, but it felt like I would be more independent if I were to do it all alone. I’m trying to be more open to friends and family coming to join and meet me out here. I realize that this trail will be the only time I will be receiving physical in person support from friends and loved ones so I should embrace it while I can! It can just be difficult to navigate these situations while trying to live trail life at the same time. The previous few times I’ve had to get off trail for something that happened back home or meet a person from outside the trail have stressed me out while on trail. I know it doesn’t take much to stress me out but it bothered me how much I had to be worried about something that I didn’t want to be worried about. In retrospect I have been so glad to get off trail for the various things and meet the friends from back home that I have! I just need to make myself more comfortable with doing so. I’ve decided that when I do another long distance hike I will be making a very clear communication about how I do and do not want support before I go just so I don’t have to be worrying about things back home while I am on the trail. I think I just get too worried about not making it to Katahdin when I want to, or getting pulled away from the trail. I need to remember that Katahdin will be waiting for me and I just need to let things happen as they do. If you are a friend or family member reading this, I don’t want this to make you be afraid of offering support or meeting me in person I just want you to understand that you will have to be very flexible with doing so.

Another hiker I was sharing feelings about these things with a while back told me this: “If someone wants to meet you, they can pick the time OR the place, but not both.” I love this saying. It sounds aggressive, but I think it’s important to not put your body or mind on a schedule out here if one of the reasons you hike is to be free of both of those things. The AT isn’t very remote so there will always be an easier access road crossing a days walk or less from almost anywhere on the trail. This is something that is super unique about the AT. The two other long distance trails I would like to complete at some point do not offer the same amenities. You can regularly be in a 100 mile stretch without a road crossing and when you do cross a road it might be 50 miles from a town. Not only that but it’s easy to walk for several days without running into another human. What a cool idea! (I know many may think otherwise 😂).

Happy Trails!

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