Miles Hiked: 7.9
Miles Left: 1596.9
Ending Location: Mile 588.4, Road Crossing I-77, Camping at Fort Bastion
While I had physically caught up Owl at Fort Bastion I was still nearly eight miles behind him as far as the Appalachian Trail was concerned. This presented some logistical issues with how to proceed. One interesting idea several of us started to throw around the night before was to rent a car from Enterprise and then spend the next week slack packing. Since today was a Sunday and the rental place wasn’t open this left me a free day to simplify thing by squaring up my miles. That way I could start next week at the same location as everyone else.
Definition: Slack Packing
To hike without a full pack. The most common form this takes is when a hiker is dropped off at a trail head, hikes for the day, and then is picked up in the evening. Two or more hikers can also slack pack each other by having one car and then hiking in different directions so one hiker drops their friend off and then has their friend drive them home. Since most of your pack is normally filled with camping gear and food a common side effect of slack packing is realizing how overrated shelter, warmth, and basic nutrition is compared to only having to carry around five pounds of water and supplies…
The plan we had agreed on the night before was for Tru Brit to slack pack me to the highway and then I’d stay another night at Fort Bastion. Feeling a bit nervous about missing my ride I woke up early which was a good thing. It turns out Tru Brit only cooks so many eggs and sausages for breakfast and when they run out they are gone. You can imagine how long they last around a bunch of hungry hikers. Shortly after breakfast I was dropped off on the trail and started hiking for the day.
It was a very different experience slack packing compared to normal. It was as if I could run up the mountains. In reality I didn’t end up hiking much faster than my usual two mile a hour pace but by the end of the day I was feeling great which was a new and enjoyable experience for me. One surprising thing about the trail today was there was a lot of road walking, which with it being the weekend also meant a lot of trail magic. I felt kind of guilty taking any of it since I was “slacking off”, (haha get it? #Groan #BadPun), but I may have grabbed a soda. That being said I’m not yet a hardcore through hiker yet because when I came across some Twinkies lying along the side of the highway with no indication saying they were trail magic vs general trash, I did not pick one up and eat it. I’m sure at some point road Twinkies will tempt me but today was not the day. About the only other thing of note was the trail passed through the town of Bland Virginia, which I have to say is a painfully accurate name that the town council should probably consider changing,
Since I had an early start and only hiked seven miles, I made it back to the Fort with plenty of daylight left. I used that time to chat with the other hikers and update my journal. Several other bored hikers were painting buildings or stripping trees that will be used to make cabins. There’s certainly plenty of opportunities for work for stay there. Later that evening we all ordered pizza and then sat around the fire some more. It was an interesting experience but by the end of it I was ready to move on.