Are you feeling blue because you haven’t heard from us hikers in awhile?

Good, join the club: we’ve been getting “The Virginia Blues” a bit lately.

We’ve been in this state longer than anyone who doesn’t reside here should. The trail magic has come in abundance, the people have been so welcoming, and the towns are hiker friendly – why would anyone want to leave, right? It’s probably the 10 other states we have yet to hike through after this one that’s making us a little anxious to cross VA off the list. In all fairness, we were warned of this, warned that the time it takes to hike through the longest state on the AT is enough to discourage someone attempting a thru-hike.

In addition we’ve dealt with a couple set backs while passing through. Brent was sick when we reached Daleville, VA. Whether it was actually Norovirus or some waterborne illness we are unsure, but it left us no option but to zero three days we hadn’t planned to. Shortly after we were back on the trail we had another snag – literally. Both of the dog packs ripped, within moments of each other. What are the chances? 800 miles of hiking with them must have been their expiration, and we had to get creative with rope and zip ties so they could continue.

A welcome break from the trail came when Brent’s parents, Jeff & Betty, made the drive out from Minnesota to visit us weary hikers. The six of us spent our days together in a lodge not far from the trail. It was a great time for us to reorganize, cook and eat a bunch, and just relax. (Huge Thank You to Jeff & Betty!) Also, we were able to contact the company that makes the dog packs, Ruffwear. They were so helpful and honored the warranty on the packs, meaning the pups will have new packs for the second half of the trail. Only bad news was they would be without them while we waited for them to arrive -through our next week of hiking through the Shenandoah National Park. They had no trouble adjusting, it was us the bad news was for: we got to carry six days worth of dog food for two 75 pound dogs. As one could imagine, it’s not a light load.

Having these pups along does not make things any easier on us. But, like we often say, “We wouldn’t have it any other way!” And although Virginia has got us feeling blue once and awhile, it will undoubtedly remain home to some of our best memories from the trail. We’ve seen plenty of hikers leave the trail, and the initial ones we started with are spread miles apart. Days like today, when we pass the 900 mile mark, and see our third and largest bear on the trail we are reminded why we’re out here. The half way point is just ahead, and we’ll be proud to say we arrived by passing every white blaze before it, never once slack packing, south bounding, or short cutting. Then, we’ll make our plans to do the same for 1,092.9 miles more!