Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Buggy and Muggy

IT'S SO HOT!  I'm in Glasgow, VA for the moment - yes, I'm still in Virginia, and it's about 100 degrees.  I hitched a ride into town at the James River footbridge by a couple who's son thru-hiked in '08 with the trail name 'NY Minute'.  They were on vacation from New Jersey, driving Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Pkwy and stopping over in Harper's Ferry, seeing what their son saw a few years ago by car.  There's not much to Glasgow except a couple convenient stores, a shelter in town, a restaurant about a 1/2 mile walk away, and a big dinosaur with what looks like Jane from Tarzan riding its back.  The people are incredibly friendly here, as has been the case in all of the small towns I've come to - aware of the trail and willing to help hikers any way they can.

I've had a couple of tough days since Daleville partly because of the heat but mostly because of the bugs.  It is so incredibly buggy right now.  I did about a 21-mile day on Memorial Day, highlighted by swimming in a swimming hole at Jennings Creek with a bunch of rednecks drinking beers, listening to country music, and smoking cigarettes.  I did my best to be friendly in hopes of scoring a beer, but I guess I didn't really fit in with them, even though I do have a very red neck.  I made it to Bryant Ridge Shelter - this enormous three-story, 20 person "cabin".  It actually had architectural merit, one of the other hikers said.  It was cool until I realized I had to sleep in it - there was no flat ground to put up my tent.  The bugs were awful that day and I feared a long night in a bug-exposed shelter, no matter how architecturally magnificent it was.  I climbed in my sleeping bag early at about 7 pm, and was immediately way too hot - it was still probably 90 degrees.  I had no choice but to sweat my ass off the entire night, because my worst fears were quickly confirmed - the bugs were relentless.  I tossed and turned all night and tried to stay as tucked away in my sleeping bag as I could.  I woke up in the morning feeling as if I had been through war and certain I had contracted West Nile. 

The next day I did a really tough 15 miles or so, that started with a 5-mile, never-ending uphill to Cornelius Creek Shelter.  El Flaco, who thru-hiked last year, said somebody had died at this shelter of dehydration, and as I stumbled head first into what I assume to be Cornelius Creek, I could certainly see how that might have happened.  I was soaked, dripping in sweat, and then dripping from cold creek water - it was a marvelous transition of wetness, sad to happy immediately although I was just as wet.  I couldn't stop for very long all day yesterday without being completely swarmed by flies, mosquitoes, bees, and no-see-ums (those little guys are the worst), so I kept going until I was tired and found a place to set. up. my tent.

I am going to hang out in town while this oven of a day cools off and then get back to the trail later today.  I plan to go into Buena Vista tomorrow and then only 3 days or so to Waynesboro after that.  775 miles completed and a lot still to go.  Must go to the store to get the highest percentage of DEET solution I can find.  Just got a text from Tom and Mayo saying they're in Harper's Ferry.  They told me "to drink a lot of water, left, right, repeat."  Thanks guys for the profound advice, I'll see yall when I see yall.


  1. it sounds like guatemala where you are, with all the heat and bugs. i'll have to tell you all about that trip sometime soon.
    i'm so glad you're doing well despite global warming and all of its implications haha. i feel like grandmommy saying this, but, your birthday call made my day. it was really nice to hear from you. love you and keep up the good work!

  2. Omg!!! Why haven't I gotten any pictures of this dinosaur!!!

    Ps sorry the skeeters are getting you so bad. One summer I couldn't wear pants my legs were so puffy. I hope you don't get there thunder thighs :)

    My dinos miss you. As do I.

  3. Like Sarah said... sounds like our week in Guatemala! We even saw dinosaurs!!

    I hope you can find ways to cool off in the heat, and manage the bugs. I'm thinking about you every day! love you

  4. Glad to hear that you're still going strong! I hope the heat lets off for you soon. Try and find a Thermacell in the next town. I know it's a little weighty, but it can't be heavier than a can of spray and it will take care of the bug problem!

  5. As I was heading out for my run yesterday, jug of water in hand and hydration belt strapped on, I wondered how in the world you stay hydrated while hiking. Please be careful! Down here in Mobile, Alabama, it will be 95-97 today so we know all about heat (and bugs too). Thinking of your journey and praying for adventure and safety!

  6. Hey,Mike,I doubt that you have run across many Avon ladies along the way, but they have a product that does an amazing job with bugs. It is called Skin So Soft. Really, it doesn't smell to girlie I promise, but does the trick.