Virginia is long, but I am going fast. I’ve been doing better than 100 miles a week, and it feels great. Most of the days lately have begun with a climb up to a ridge, followed by several hours of easy walking to the next notch, where I either stop for lunch or set up camp, depending on how many ridges I’d already crossed that day. The only difficulties have been the fallen leaves hiding loose rocks and the shrinking window of daylight.
Oh and the cold. We had a quick two day taste of winter before it went back to normal autumn temperatures, and the fact that the sun couldn’t keep me warm by itself made me very unhappy. Cold nights are one thing, I have a sleeping bag. But being cold in the sunlight? It feels like a betrayal. But whatever, I’m going fast and the voice in the back of my head that has been nagging for speed since Pennsylvania is finally, finally, satisfied. Wearing long sleeves won’t kill me. It will just make me extra funky, if that’s even possible at this point.
The cold days aren’t here quite yet, though, and I’ve been enjoying cool days under a cloudless, deep blue sky while the mountains slowly turn the color of rust. My feet barely even hurt.
Anyway, I don’t have a lot to report about Virginia. Lot of walking. I’ll be in North Carolina next week. Yep.
So I’ve put together a hiker glossary. Now you can learn the lingo and be a cool kid too:
Bonus Miles – Any distance not on the trail. Low score is best.
Cowboy Camping – Who needs a tent?
Vitamin I – Ibuprofen. An essential ingredient for good trail mix.
Vortex – The gravitational pull of hikers being lazy in a nice spot, be it a hostel, beach, or sunny spot by the road. Large amounts of willpower are required to achieve escape velocity. Both a noun and a verb.
PUD – Pointless Up and Down. A challenging climb and descent that looks exactly the same at the top and at the bottom.
Thru Hiker – A hiker attempting the entire trail in a single season. Known for their hunger and lack of good sense.
Section Hiker – A hiker piecing together the entire trail over a series of separate trips. Known for employment and other adult responsibilities.
Flip-Flopper – A thru hiker attempting to complete the trail in a few large segments.
NOBO – Northbounder. The most popular direction, NOBOs get the most support from the AT community on their journey.
SOBO – Southbounder. Widely considered the most difficult way to thru hike, SOBOs have fewer off-trail services to rely on. This may or may not make them better than you.
BOBO – Bothbounder. Weirdos. May have a master plan, but are probably just lost.
Daywalker – Just out for a day or two, usually well intentioned but known for complete cluelessness and lack of trail etiquette.
Mayfly – They started in Georgia sometime in May, and will beat you to Maine by at least a month anyway. Definitely cyborgs.
Yo-Yoer – Already hiked 2189 miles and didn’t get enough, so they’ve turned around.
Slack-Packing – Hiking with a lighter load, usually only what is needed for a day while their remaining gear is held at the destination. Frowned upon by purists.
Purist – Hater of fun and comfort.
Yellow Blazing – Driving. Only a problem if you lie about it.
Hiker TV – The fire.
Hiker Midnight – Sundown. Bedtime. Daywalkers may disregard hiker midnight, but must accept the consequences come daybreak.
Zero Day – A rest day, during which 0 miles were hiked.
Nearo – A rest day, during which a few miles were hiked.
Beero – A rest day that was not initially scheduled as a rest day.
Trail Angel – Volunteer ride givers, food cookers, and crash spot providers.
Trail Magic – Unexpected treats left on the trail by angels, ranging from fresh water to beer to full blown barbecue cookouts.
Trail Tragic – Nothing left but empty cans and Twinkie wrappers.
“Hike your own hike” (passive voice) – Do what works for you, go at your own pace, every one has different goals and abilities, so to each their own, no pressure.
“Hike your own hike” (active voice) – Get out of my room, dad, GAWD.
Total Milage: 1646.5