I last left you off with the party at Partnership Shelter outside of Marion, which was a wonderful release and relaxing time for all the hikers there. It was like a taste of home. And to drive that point even further, only a few miles down the trail was Atkins, VA and a home cookin' restaurant with a burger to die for. A perfect hangover meal for those who needed it.
I camped that night a few more miles out of town. The next day was very typical in terms of hiking days until about 2 miles out from the shelter I planned to stop at. I knew it was going to rain in the afternoon so I had been working hard to beat the rain but just as I hit a long series of balds, the storm hit as well. It was your usual afternoon thunderstorm except for the fact that I was running over the tops of mountains on which I was the tallest thing around. The wind was wicked and I leaned at a surely hilarious angle in order to even be upright. It was one of those situations that makes you a really strong prayer all the sudden, but I finally made it to the shelter. The shelter itself was on a bald and the wind blasted it from all sides it seemed. Thankfully it had four rock walls, a solid roof and even a door! It actually reminded me of something from Ireland.
The next day was only a 15 mile trek to Fresh Ground at a campsite at a mile 580. It was a gorgeous day and the terrain was pretty easy. That is how I knew it was a particularly bad day. Despite the wonderful day I was still miserable for some reason. I was just not having fun. It hit me all the sudden that I wasn't enjoying myself on the Appalachian Trail anymore. I hiked and cried simultaneously most of the day. Eventually Maineiac and Genie caught up to me and I dumped my woes on them, which helped. But it was the first time I had ever entertained the idea of quitting. When I finally reached Fresh Ground and filled my belly I felt even better.
That night the entire crew was taken down to a soon to be built hostel to camp that was run by TruBrit. He was the most conservatively minded person politically and still had this belief that America was as great as it was in the 1930's. He was building a entire compound on his own and always carried a gun. We were destined to never be god friends. But he was nice enough to give us beer that night and take us back to Fresh Ground for breakfast.
The next couple of days were fairly uneventful. A bit of rain and a lot of miles being put down. But last this morning we walked down into Woods Hole Hostel. It's half a mile off the trail and is an old 1880's farm turned sustainable/organic farm and hiker hostel. It's a beautiful dream come true for me that this place event exists. Farm animals and canning and jarring and farm chores. It is run by Neville, who took it over from her grandmother when she passed. It is a rejuvenating place to be at, even on a rainy day. I am enjoying the rest and it is helping to rest my soul as well.
I am planning on slowing down in my hike. I will lose my great group and it has taken my suffering and many balls to finally make the decision, but it will end in disaster if I don't slow down.