Hanging Rock Overlook to Waynesboro, VA
Miles Hiked: 22.8
AT Milage: 863.7
Last night I successfully camped alone for the first time ever! I didn’t sleep very well but I did it and I’m proud of myself. I woke up at 5:30am to see the sunrise but it was very overcast and I realized that my view was actually facing the south, not east.
I was a little sad but mostly happy that I camped alone! I didn’t finish packing up and eating until 6:30. Taking an hour to get ready is a really long time for me, but for some reason I’ve been very slow the past few days. I made it to Dripping Rock Overlook which is 8.5 miles away from my starting point at 10am where I sat down to take a break for a half an hour. A random couple from Texas was hiking and the girl wanted to get a picture with me because I had hiked so far. I thought it was funny. Before my break, I took some pictures of Cedar Cliffs and I passed two dead animals on the trail which is really strange. One was a baby raccoon which looked like another animal had eaten half of in the past thirty minutes; it was very fresh and I was concerned what was eating it! After talking to others later in the day we thought it might be a Fox. After I passed that raccoon I saw a dead mouse in the middle of the trail less than a quarter mile later it was all very strange.
As I was hiking to Humpback Rocks Overlook I got a great view of the WinterGreen Ski resort. While I was looking at it, two giant birds landed on the cliff in front of me and got super close.
When I got to Humpback Rocks I sat down for a long time at the view. Each break I took today I took off my shoes and massaged my feet with my hands and golf ball. They were hurting really bad early on my hike. A lot of day hikers were visiting Humpback Rocks when I was there and they were talking to me about my hike. One of them took my picture before I left.
After Humpback Rocks I continued hiking through my foot pain. I kept rolling my ankles really bad which would make me scream every time and frustrate me a lot. I roll my ankles, trip, and fall down on the trail more than anyone else I know. I feel that if I didn’t have such good ankle flexibility I would have gotten an ankle injury by now.
I saw Toucan walking south with his pack on and I was very confused. I thought I was going the wrong way. Turns out he lost his phone and was turning back to find it. I started crying because the pain in my feet started to feel so bad. It was probably the most pain I’ve been in the entire trail so far. I’m so upset that they are hurting so bad when the rest of my body feels great. I was trying to think of what else I could do to make them better but it seems like the only thing is to stop hiking. I got really upset thinking about having to quit, get off trail for a month, or keep hiking with my current pain. None of them were options I was happy with! By the time I got to the shelter I was sobbing. I stuck my feet in an ice cold stream and continued to cry. I couldn’t believe how much they hurt! I hate icing my feet so much and I was able to keep them in the water for a long time because they were hurting so bad. After about a half an hour I took my feet out of the water. I thought about staying at the shelter, but the town I wanted to get to was only five more miles away. I just wanted to get out of the woods with my feet hurting as bad as they were and the rain that is supposed to be coming.
Before I left Geode showed up who officially decided to change her name to Fancy Feast which I joked about calling her when she told us a story about how she ate a whole can of cat food on the trail by accident because she thought it was tuna. Toucan was at the shelter when I was sobbing so I talked to him about how much pain I was in and my options for continuing. He was laughing at me covering up the giant blisters on the back of my heel with tape and blister bandages when I was crying about the bottoms of my feet hurting. They are so messed up! Somehow I was able to leave the creek and hike uphill to the town really fast. Good thing it is hard to cry when you are walking uphill! Toucan caught up to me a mile before I reached the road. We both hitch hiked to the outfitter together. A man named “Suga” picked us up in his pick up truck and drove us about 3 miles down the highway. At the outfitter I bought a really nice pair of shoe inserts I hope will save my feet. Toucan bought a new pair of shoes since the bottoms of his are falling off after only about 400 miles in them. We were lucky we got there 15 minutes before it closed!
I stuck my thumb out again to get another ride further into town so we could go eat at the Chinese Buffet and get a place to sleep at a local church. A guy working at the store offered to drive us in. The Chinese buffet was SO GOOD. Probably the best one on the trail! I ate a lot of the fried cheese wontons and ice cream. We checked into the church at 7:30 because we had to get there before 8pm. Fancy Feast was staying there too so I was happy to see her! I set up my cot next to her. The church was very nice and had a shower for us and place to hang out and eat food. It was so great to just be in a building tonight when it’s supposed to be thunder storming probably for the next few days. I plan to hike extremely slow the next few days because I’m in so much pain and I’m worried about my feet getting worse. I’m not giving up yet!