Day 41 – Helveys Mill Shelter to a random spot on the trail

26.8 miles, 64,660 steps, 536 stories climbed

628.0 miles, 1,639,567 steps, 15,914 stories climbed
Trail Magic Moments: 24
Another big day, biggest one on the trail so far.  Silver and I set out this morning planning to go to Wapiti Shelter which would have been a 24.2 mile day but we both came to the conclusion while hiking separately that we should hike a bit further so tomorrow we can get in to Pearisburg a little bit earlier.
It was another day of great weather and rather easy terrain to make getting big mileage a possibility.  It was again however a bit short on views.
Not too far into the hike I came across this rock structure marking off the 600 mile mark.  It’s a bit late now but it probably was the 600 mile mark at one point. The trail changes every year.  As they keep adding switchbacks the hills get easier but the trail gets longer, still it was cool to see the marker.
Along the trail there was also a nice little foot suspension bridge to cross a stream.
Once across the river I had a decision to make.  I was just over 16 miles in to the day and had just decided I would add the extra 2.6 miles to the day which would already probably push me to finishing after 5pm.  My choice was to keep hiking or make a left and hike along the road for a half mile to get to Trent’s Grocery, a gas station/convenience store that also makes food.  My stomach made me do it, adding another mile (and a non-trail mile for that matter!) for the round trip.
I ordered a Philly with some Cajun fries and quickly scarfed it down.  Silver was there when I got there and we discussed where we would head for the day, between bites anyway.
He headed out a bit before I did but on my way back to the trailhead I came across a white pickup with a couple doing some trail magic.  They thru-hiked together last year and want to start doing trail magic.  I took some water, since I was a bit low, and couldn’t pass up the golden Oreos they had either.
We talked for a bit, it seems they have a winter home in the area here in Virginia and a summer home up in Maine so they plan on doing trail magic both down here and up there so, maybe I’ll run into them again.
I continued to hike through the forests and up and down the switchbacks.  There were a number of areas that weren’t very well blazed. Usually whenever the trail turns thee is a double white blaze but often there were turns in the trail with no blazes at all.  I made a wrong turn after a footbridge and ended up in what would have been a great camp spot but luckily I realized my mistake rather quickly and headed back to the footbridge and found the trail once again.
Eventually, I ended up finding Silver’s tent up on the hilltop at the end of a long day, finishing around 6:30pm. I quickly set up my tent and started the nightly routine of cooking and setting up my home for the evening.
I spent some time thinking today about the nature of this trip in the grand scheme of things.  It is a pretty big endeavor yes but overall it’s really just a bunch of smaller endeavors combined.  I don’t spend a great deal of time picturing the finish line or looking at the overall goal.  I basically have two plans. The day plan and the resupply plan.
The day plan is simply how far I plan on hiking today with the weather, terrain, water locations, shelter locations and how my body feels.
The resupply plan is how many days I think it’ll take before I get to the next spot where I can buy food so I know how much I need to get.
I compared this to other aspects of my life and people’s lives in general.  How much we could accomplish if we took a long term goal and broke it down to something much simpler than it is.  If you decide you want to run a marathon you can’t spend too much time thinking about the end results or all the work involved, you just need to lace up those shoes and get started, even if you can only barely do a mile now, if you take it just one day at a time you’ll get better.
We are all so obsessed with instant gratification in just about everything that we do that for the most part we end up not really trying anything.  We see someone playing guitar and think “I wish I could do that.” Then we think of all the years of practicing they put in to it and then decide it would be easier to just turn on the television.  If we make little goals instead we can probably get much further.  Instead of saying “I want to learn guitar.” Maybe today just say “I want to learn this chord or technique.”  It just seems like it would be easier to me, but these are just the ramblings of a crazy hiker. 

4 thoughts on “Day 41 – Helveys Mill Shelter to a random spot on the trail

  1. “We are all so obsessed with instant gratification in just about everything, that we end up not really trying anything.”

    Wise words, Jason. We have to learn to “just do it.” Nike came up with that slogan for a reason, and it holds true in so many ways. I’m trying to live like that as well: little steps, to finally reach the “big goal” – whatEVER that may be!

  2. Awesome advice. That’s how I live my life. Nearly 7 years ago I was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure, right after my son was born. Plus I have COPD. Neither can be cured. I also knew that my chances of living 10 years after diagnosis with CHF was only 25%. Early on, I made the goal of living to see my son go to kindergarten. My baby step. He graduates kindergarten in a couple weeks. Whoo hoo! My next goal is to see him through grade school. My daughter wanted my my first goal to be to live until he graduates high school. That was just too far off to imagine, and not likely to happen. I am happy with my little goals, enjoying each day that I have. People need to learn to love life and take each day as it comes.

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