In entering the Shenandoah National Park, I effectively entered fall. This is my favorite season, and time of year for hiking. Golden leaves are strewn about the place, and soon the deep reds will carpet the ground as well. Some deep, deep, part of me overflows with joy when this happens.
Traveling across twenty-eight hundred trail miles in one week, via car, has left my immune system confused. About a day after I left Harper’s Ferry, the scratchy throat and runny nose began. The change from 70F highs in both Maine and the Smoky’s, were a stark contrast to the 97 degree day on which I left Harper’s Ferry.
Thankfully, the air is beginning to cool, and I have DayQuil in tow. If I were well, I could certainly push twenty-two mile days through this section. Mid-day naps keep overtaking my ambitions though, and my body feels better for it. The affect of hiking just two less hours per day with Jelly, had profound affects on my day to day comfort.
Comparing daily mileages with other hikers is largely a happiness-sink. I’ve done marathons and longer in the past. These days I value naps and random trail conversations. It’s worth it to me to make space for them, especially on this last stretch. I’ve been out here long enough to know that the next 680 miles will go by in a flash.