VA, the longest, most intense, and favorite state so far.

This one is for you guys. So I realize I’ve been slacking off a lot over the past month as far as sending off trail updates to everyone and letting y’all know what life has been like. In not gonna lie, Virginia had been my most difficult time on the trail thus far for a variety of reasons, both good and bad. Virginia had been the best, most exciting and most frustrating experience and I’d absolutely do it again if given the chance. Well, maybe with less up hills…..

A common phrase thrown around the beginning of the trail is that VA is flat. Anyone who can make that claim has obviously never been to VA or even looked ahead in their trail guide book. From multiple three thousand four accents and plummets to the mountain ridge named the “roller coaster”, VA may not be as high as the Smokies but it’s much more intense.

As y’all know, I’m from Virginia. Born by the beach, raised in Richmond and graduated from Virginia Tech, VA is my favorite place of earth. I looked forward to getting here so much and was excited to show my new friends my neck of the woods and reconnect with my besties back home.

From the moment we hit Damascus for trail days festival (and don’t worry, I’ll fill in journal articles about all of those adventures!) the crazy roller coaster of this fourth state began. Scout and I saw wild ponies, we hiked in lightning storms on mountain ridges, and began waving off paid hiker shuttle services and mastering the art of hitch hiking for free. It was a scary idea at first but now I’m confident that if I needed to I could hitch into California by tomorrow morning.

When I got up to the Pearisburg/Roanoke section of the trail, I had intended to skip a few days of hiking the areas I’d already done while in college. In reality, the HOME vortex proved to be much more powerful than the silly town vortex I’d experienced in Hot Springs. I spent a week and a half wearing makeup and showering regularly, kayaking and taking the dogs to the lake, and visiting with friends. I also locked in the amazing job in Hailfax County that I’d been interviewing for and began making plans to move immediately after completing the trail. So hard to leave!!!

Eventually I pulled myself back out of the real world and met my stepsister Kelsey, and together we spent several days backpacking across my familiar terrain. We eventually got to Troutville, where I met my dad at my aunts house, located a minute from a side trail leading to a shelter. Thankfully we took it slow, both for her sake and mine considering I’d been of trail for so long. Scout made it clear as well that he too had lost his hiker legs.

Kelsey eventually went home to plan her new life with her fiance and we kept hiking up to Waynesboro, where Scout and I gathered about sixteen of our closest hiker friends and rented canoes for a three day long aqua blazing adventure. Several sunburns and countless experiences later (including listening to the US vs Germany soccer game on a camp radio on the river while sipping strawberry shine) we got back on the trail in Luray. 

In the Shenandoah’s Scout injured his paw and my mom met us in Front Royal to take him home. We learned that his injury was a little more severe and that he wouldn’t be able to continue hiking for the next several weeks. I’m not sure yet how we’d be able to coordinate getting him back up north as I’ll be finishing PA by then, so this may mean the end of his hike. While I’m heartbroken to continue on without my trail partner, my original plan was to only have him hike five hundred miles or so throughout VA. With that in mind the little beagle making it almost a thousand miles from Springer mountain to the end of the Shenandoah’s is incredible. Scout is a trooper and is happily eating junk food in my parents air conditioned house snuggled next to our big fat cat. Lucky dog.

Anyways, my biggest, hardest state had been conquered and I’m off to Maryland first thing in the morning. I may not hit the four state challenge (hiking from the VA state line to the PA line in 24 hours) but I know there are a million more memories in store. Stay tuned and as always, happy trails from your hiker friend Rodeo!!!

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