We hit the roller coaster first thing in the morning; a series of short steep ups and downs over rocks. It wouldn’t be long before we started to hate this section of the trail, Just Jeremy and I. The first two hills were brutal going up and down. Our pace was somewhat slow over the hard terrain. I spent most of the time cursing and swearing about the rocks. There really as no way to get into a groove when you have to turn and watch each step, one slip or twist could result in a broken leg or ankle. This weighed heavy on my mind as we walked.
My mind has wandered quite a bit lately, not being in the bubble has afforded me the solitude I need to think. The long hours spent with just one person bring solace in that I am not alone out here. At the least there is one other person to talk to. I am certain that if I was solely by myself all the time I would talk to the air and appear crazy to others. For now I had Just Jeremy to talk too.
Reaching the shelter I found Small Fly asleep in her hammock. Her friends had said she was just a bit ahead and at the looks of it she was quite a bit ahead. She had hiked more than we thought for the previous day. Rocking her hammock gently I relayed the message from her friends and told her we were going to hike to town and she could join us. She packed her things up and in no time our duo was a trio; her friends had gotten a ride ahead and she really had little options.
The three of us wee soon off passing the 1000 mile marker. Tired of the rocks I didn’t even notice it off the right side of the trail, he’ll none of us were excited in the moment. The weather had started to rain on us and we were wet, cranky and tired. The moment was so minimal that we just wanted to get out of the weather and rain for a day. This has been one of the wettest summers I have seen. It seems like two or three days of the week I’ve been getting rain. The rocky ups and downs passed by as we listened to music and talked. Passing the state line was more exciting for us, anything to get out of Virginia for good.
As we talked Small Fly informed me she was leaving the trail. I felt sad, we had met in the Shenandoah’s and I knew she was with a big group. It is never easy to hear someone was quiting this far in. We talked for a long time about her reasons why she was leaving. She was tired of being wet, sweaty, and not being able to get dry or shower. That I understood quite well, still I was saddened to hear she was leaving. I had gotten so far ahead of my friends it was hard to know who was left and who had gotten off. All I could do was think about them and wonder where they were.
Small Fly and I shared our stories for coming to the trail as I probed to find some way to convince her to stay. There are rules for quitting out here; you can’t quit in an uphill, when your wet, tired, had a bad day, you can only quit when the sun is shining and your at the most beautiful place you’ve been at in a while and you are absolutely miserable. She had that moment last week and I knew there was no talking her out of it. I simply said that I understood and I supported her. I said that I was here to listen and she wasn’t alone out here. She was going through a difficult time on trail and had been through some before the trail. I hate seeing people down and out, especially when I know them.
The three of us looked solely forward to the BBQ at the end of our journey for the day. We had seen signs of this all along the trail. This sole idea kept us going through the downpour of rain all day. Finally letting off we had found some refuge from the rain in the evening. Yet alas when we reached the hostel there was no food. Our toilsome day with no reward wasn’t all bad, her friends were there to great us as we walked up. Excited and happy to see them we hurried across the rocks, Small Fly falling at the last minute in laughter and clumsiness. Sharing our day with them we settled into the porch and rested. The next day we would push to Harper’s Ferry and then the four state challange.