Our Lone Appalachian Trail Hiker Tackles Rain and Thick Fog – Update 11

Going off road for us usually means an engine burns gasoline and turns tires, propelling us through the world. But truly one of the most rewarding ways to go off-road is under your own power, whether it be paddling a canoe, riding a mountain bike or hiking on your own two feet. 

Going by the trail name Colorado, a friend of our esteemed publisher is tackling the length of the Appalachian trail, from north to south. The trail begins in Maine and terminates in the Great Smoky Mountains of Georgia, a distance of about 2,200 miles. It usually takes hikers five to seven months to complete the journey.

ALSO SEE: Colorado’s 10th Update

So follow along with our friend Colorado, as he takes on the trail.

Update 11:

Hello once again from Virginia!

I continue to gradually work my way south, and have now completed 1,328 miles with 863 yet to go. My original hope was to be finished by Thanksgiving, but with foul weather the name of the game lately, the turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing will likely be long gone before I’m done. My revised target finish date now is by the end of November, which should be doable barring other disruptions to my daily march.

Wet, Wetter, Wettest –
And the rain and fog just go on and on. I spent the last six days trekking through Shenandoah National Park. Here is a typical view into the Shenandoah Valley from one of the many overlooks:

Reminds me a lot of Maryland, where I saw nothing but fog for three days. It originally looked like the weather was going to be beautiful for an extended period after Hurricane Florence fizzled away, but it was not to be. Moisture continues to move in from the southwest and blanket the Appalachians, and darned if it’s not having a deteriorating impact on my tan. At any rate, this was one of the only brief and rare views I got in Shenandoah:

I hope to return some day to actually see this national park. It looks beautiful in the travel brochures.

Hiking in the damp fog has its perks, though. The best part is that there are no gnats and mosquitoes. And while the horizontal views seem to be in black and white, the occasionally colorful scenery straight down on the trail, where my gaze is typically focused, just becomes that much more appreciated:

It’s almost like the moment when Dorothy steps out of her bleak Kansas house into Oz.

Another good thing coming out of this prolonged wet weather is that the water sources have become numerous and reliable. Typically in the fall, streams and springs begin to dry up, forcing hikers to carry more water at any given time. Right now, though, I can minimize how much I need to have with me, which in turn reduces my pack weight.

One strange phenomenon that occurs when the sun finally comes out after days of rain is an explosion of unusual plants. For example, yesterday while crossing a hilltop I came across a field of rare tractor seats:

It’s interesting to watch how this wet weather impacts different hikers. Most actually take it in stride and laugh it off. But some have gotten very quiet, some look perpetually cold, and a few seem to be going into a dark place and are obviously not having fun anymore. I think there will definitely be some trail attrition soon if the weather doesn’t dramatically improve. As for me, while I may not be laughing up a storm, I realize that the weather is just part of the journey. And when the sun returns, it will just be that much better. I look forward to that.

In the meantime, I hope the sun is shining down on all of you!

Colorado