This was supposed to be a triumphant entry, detailing my triumphant return to the trail, but you know, I think Virginia hates me for being a northerner.
The day started out well, with waffles and good conversation at the hostel at 7 am. About 8:45, I slung on the pack and walked down to the ATC office to get my second official photo taken and compare the two; the difference was stunning! I spent a good chunk of time chatting with the employees, one of whom was short and had exactly the same problem on Katahdin as I did! Great people, I didn’t leave until 10am.
That was okay, I decided to do a 12 mile day and get to the Blackburn Center which has bunks and picnic tables. First I had to cross the Shenandoah River, then climb out of the river valley. After that, though, the trail was extremely level, save in a few spots of very mild elevation change. There were stony patches. Sometimes rocky patches. But there was also a lot of dirt, which was very pleasant.
And there was a trail angel! Steve, or “Friday” was at a road crossing with cold Dasani! Very nice!
But it was my first day back on the trail in a week, with distractingly new scenery and new boots, to boot. The Virginia woods were making me uneasy – they were decidely deciduous, instead of persistently pine, and there was a carpet of fallen leaves that unseen animals kept crunching. I kept jumping. Did see several deer. Anyway, late in the day, the inevitable happened and I tripped somehow.
When I tripped, this time I fell forward, so the whole weight of the pack was pushing me down. The edge of my rib cage caught the edge of a squarish rock. It kinda stunned me for a few minutes. I was half a mile from a shelter I had just passed and 3 miles from the Blackburn Center. I went on to the Center, because it has a caretaker (with a car and road access) just in case, but carrying the pack, particularly the last mile, really hurt.
I ate a quick dinner of Spam slices and tortillas (thank you, Wannabes!), and laid down. I have taken ibuprofen, and talked with the caretaker – if I am still hurting in the morning, I can catch a ride back to HF, or stay here another day, or both. He is a very helpful man!
I am just praying it is better in the morning; it feels like I bruised a rib, and that hurts like the devil, I know from experience. And forget about carrying a full pack! Maybe slackpacking from Front Royal is a possibility, if expensive.
I hike on! (I hope!)