I received my new shoes in Pearisburg, VA. In 2016, I went to Harper’s Ferry, VA (That is about 1,000 miles) before getting a new pair of shoes! This time, I purchased 4 pairs of shoes. I started with a new pair, and I’m sending myself a new pair every 500-600 miles, which is the recommendation if you hike in trail runners. They feel so much better! I hated to get back on the muddy trail with my new shoes. (They only looked new for about 2 days.) They still wear like they are new, though.
When I left Pearisburg, I had only gone a few miles when I came to a road and saw PapaJ, Tumble and a new addition to their group, Wills In Motion. They were being dropped off by Miss Janet, a lady who drives a van, and follows ‘the bubble’ (a big group of hikers on the trail.) She offers shuttles by donation and slack-packs hikers. She follows the bubble all the way to Maine. She is well-known and well-loved on the trail. I met her in 2016, and was happy to see her.
The shelter spacing in Virginia is awkward for thru hikers who are trying to make Miles. There was not a good shelter to stop at from Pearisburg that was a decent amount of miles. There was also a long stretch without a water source, so I planned to pack out water at the last source for 7 miles. I carried 3 liters of water for 7 miles! That’s 7 1/2 ponds, in addition to my heavy 6 days worth of food from my latest mail drop.
I came to a road, and there was a man in uniform with police tape all over. He told me to stay within 150 feet of the trail until the next road crossing due to a pipeline. He was very vague. I learned later on down the trail that there was a guy in a tree protesting a pipeline that was going to be put in through the area. They were trying to cut off his supply of food and water and that is why they wanted hikers to stay on the trail.
I finally got to a place in the woods where there was a lot of police tape. I could see tarps deep in the woods. Not far after that, I saw a man and woman Hiker I had been leapfrogging the past several days. The were off to the side of the trail taking a break. I said hello, and the guy looked very angry. He started asking me if I had yelled out support for the guy in the tree. I told him I was out here to thru hike…that I really didn’t know anything about it.
The guy was angry, and he was angry at me because I didn’t want to get involved because I didn’t know any of the details about the situation. He was going on and on about what happens if we do nothing. I told him you have to pick and choose your battles, and at this time, this was not one of mine.
I was getting scared. He is part of a group of hikers known as ‘the stoners’. I’m not convinced it is only weed they are doing. He was so angry, I was scared, and I hiked on. There was a port a potty there in the woods with a dirt road, and I couldn’t find the trail. The guy was coming my way. I asked him if he knew where the trail was, and he angrily pointed in a direction beyond the potty, and sarcastically said that it would be where the white blaze was.
The trail was behind the potty, and I hoofed it down the trail. I could hear what sounded like the guy beating on the inside of the potty! It was a jungle on either side of me, so if he wanted to kill me and toss my body in my the weeds, it would take a while for them to find it. The trail was not ‘friendly’ that day. It was thick and bushy. I heard someone coming up behind me. I looked back and saw that it was the guy’s girlfriend. She passed me and zoomed on by. She looked scared, and her boyfriend was not with her.
She was soon past me and I couldn’t see her. I was hiking as fast as I could with 3 liters of water and 6 days of food in my pack. I usually don’t have cell service, but for some reason, I did at that moment. If I hadn’t had service, and the guy caught up with me, I was going to act like I was talking to someone. Since I had cell service, I called Bud, told him about the situation, and asked him to pray for me. I felt a little better after Bud prayed with me.
I finally came upon some other hikers resting at a large boulder. I stopped there and told them I was scared, and explained the situation. They knew the guy, and the young lady said he was just ‘passionate’. I told her he was beating on the port a potty, and she looked alarmed. I went on down the trail. I was not glad that I had planned on camping at a campsite without water. That usually means I’ll be camping alone.
Finally, I heard the guy coming. I stepped off the trail to the side, waiting for my demise, and he passed me without saying anything. Whew! Was I ever relieved. They are fast hikers and I knew he would be way past where I planned to camp. I didn’t see him again that day.
I finally found my campsite. I set up my tent, ate my supper and then hung my food bag. Later, I heard someone else come and start setting up their tent. It’s always a relief to know I won’t be alone. It was a man. He said hello. I was spooked, and didn’t want him to know I was a lady, so I said nothing. I read my Kindle until I fell asleep.