It is with great pleasure and a considerable amount of satisfaction that I am announcing that we have finally made it to Virginia! We're almost 500 miles in, and crossing state lines does wonders to boost morale! It's getting hot and humid here, which makes for some sweaty hiking. We've been trying to get up early in the morning to try to beat the heat, but it still is quite warm. We had been told that Tropical Depression Bonnie might be headed our way and were braced for some rainy days, but we have remained quite fortunate to not have much rain while hiking. We got some overnight rain, but mostly just rumblings of thunder while hiking.
The trail seems to have temporarily mellowed out. After the Smokies, we encountered a lot of climbs from valleys to mountaintops and back down to valleys, which, while beautiful, take quite a lot of effort. The end of Tennessee had some more gradual climbs, ridge-walking, and winding around sides of mountains, which allowed us to cover some more ground. We also have loved the beautiful balds and meadows that allow us to see for miles around, as well as the peaceful streams and waterfalls along the way.
We've gradually been picking up pace, hiking between 15 and 20 miles per day and we're hoping to continue to be able to do so. Right now, we're taking a rest day in Damascus, VA, which is a major trail town just over the TN/VA border. After showers, a good night sleep, and eating food that has a shelf life of less than a month, we are feeling much better and are excited about the trail to come. Virginia is the state with the most miles, but contains Grayson Highlands, which is populated with wild ponies, McAfee Knob, the most photographed spot on the AT, and Shenandoah, a national park with beautiful ridgeline hiking.