Virginia has definitely been full of weather extremes. We went from record breaking rains and flood advisories directly to record breaking high temperatures and heat advisories.
At first it was exciting to finally see the sun again! Such a novelty, but as the heat index rose higher and higher it became apparent that excessively high temperatures, like excessive rain, make hiking a challenge.
Trail rumor goes on and on about how nice and easy the terrain in Virginia is, but I’m not sure that I buy it. Sure, there are some nice easy rock-free stretches, but North Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee all sported some of those as well. There are also lots of rocky, kind of obnoxious sections of trail, like “the roller coaster”.
I got to the roller coaster in the middle of the heat wave. From the elevation profile, it was clear that the roller coaster was named because of the rapid succession of ups and downs. I was hoping that it also meant that it was nice, fast trail… Roller coasters are fun when they are fast, right? Unfortunately, this was not fast trail. It was all incredibly rocky and full of ups and downs. The heat index of 119F might also have colored my opinion of that stretch of trail.
I trudged up and down and up and down through the roller coaster as buckets of sweat poured off of me. I was just as wet as I had been in the rain! Though this was a warm, sticky, smelly wet…
My mom had assured me that she was going to bring the sunshine with her when she came to visit me, but I wasn’t quite prepared for this much warmth. She is exceedingly good at everything she does and this was no exception, so I shouldn’t have been surprised.
On the upside, mom and dad supplied me (and all of the other thru-hikers they met) with lots of food and cold sodas. They also hiked in the heatwave to celebrate the 1000 mile mark with me. Patches and Patches’ parents… You can see the resemblance in our packs (all lined up at the 1000 mile sign to mark the historic occasion).