Dulcigal arrived in Marion, Virginia on May 10 (Day 59 of her thru-hike), having hiked over 530 miles of the Appalachian Trail. The weather, during the first two weeks of May, was rather unpredictable. One night during the trek to Marion, Dulcigal encounted freezing temperatures and 4-6 inches of snow. After warming up in Marion, a group of hikers, including Dulcigal, hatched a plan to rent cars and return to Damascus, Virginia. The plan to go backward had a purpose: Trail Days. Trail Days is the premier hiker festival along the AT and this year it was celebrated on May 13-15.
Dulci had a great time at the festival raving about gear discounts, give-a-ways and the three basic needs of all thru-hikers: food, showers, and laundry. One of the traditions of Trail Days is the Thru-Hiker parade down through Main Street lined on both sides with the locals, who shoot the hikers with water guns. Quite a strange “gauntlet-like” custom but everyone seems to enjoy the event accompanied with grand laughter and cheers. There is a hiker talent show one evening where the hikers are able to demonstrate their gifts that are often hidden by their beards, backpacks, and trekking garb.
Dulcigal gave the festival high marks and felt the trip was well worth the time. She picked up a lighter backpack (this will provide benefits for days ahead) and was able to obtain some repairs on her trail runners.
In her May 19 post, Dulcigal journaled from Adkins, Virginia. She continues to experience foot pain and is resting for a day or two. She is frustrated trying to balance a longing desire to be hiking the trail with the patience needed for the body to heal itself. Her hope is to be back on the trail in a day or two.
I am a bit concerned for Dulcigal. She has averaged about 8 miles per day during her first 68 days on the trail. I did not stay in Adkins but I passed by the community on day 38 of my adventure. At the current pace, her journey will demand 274 days and a projected end date of December 11. She will be forced to do a flip flop (at some point traveling to Maine to climb Katahdin and hike across the Presidential Mountains in New Hampshire before winter) and finish the hike moving south bound to the spot of her flip flop.
My hope is that she will be able to pick up her pace and increase her daily mileage. If she could increase her daily pace to 12 miles per day for the rest of the journey, she could finish on October 3 (very close to the closing down of Katahdin for the winter). This is still very possible. My cheers and prayers are with Dulci as she attempts to reach this major accomplishment in her life.
Update: Dulcigal posted just a few days ago and had arrived at Pearisburg, Virginia – about 634 miles on the AT (an average of 8.45 miles per day). The good news – she is feeling stronger physically and seems to be in excellent spirits. Let me share a little of her most recent posting:
“My knee is great…my feet are better… and life has been good. These past days I’ve been able to stop and enjoy the views, take pictures, think, meditate, pray, and still complete the miles I’ve needed to complete. I’m at 634 miles in Pearisburg, VA. More of God’s creatures are being seen as the weather gets warmer. Unfortunately, the annoying bugs are coming out as well. We’ve had LOTS of rain over the past week or two. Even the locals in the trail towns are complaining about the rain. We’ve been slipping and sliding a lot on the trail. I do want to say, that in spite of the rain, I LOVE VIRGINIA!!!!!!! This is such a beautiful state. I really love the contour of the mountains, the trail, etc. It is just beautiful. God’s handiwork is very much present.”