Day 46 – Dickey Gap to Partnership Shelter (Marion, VA), 15.1 miles, 532.4 total AT miles.

I woke full of energy at 6:45 and was ready to start hiking by 7:30. I walked out the road to see if I had cell coverage – no dice. As far as I knew, Savage and Moon Boots were too far ahead for me to catch and Medicine Man, Canuck, Shaggy and Clutch too far behind to warrant me waiting around. I quickly ate and hit the trail.

If you look at a topographical map of the AT in Virginia, you’ll see that the trail largely follows ridge lines. This can be good or bad. Some ridge lines are cake walks – wide trail with a gentle grade. Others, like the one I was traversing this morning, where rocky and hard to navigate.

I stopped four miles in at the trail crossing leading to the Trimpi Shelter to have a quick snack. I met a few hikers leaving the shelter and asked if they had seen Savage or Moon Boots. They didn’t know Moon Boots, but said Savage had tented there last night with a hiker named “Push” – it had to be Maria, the same girl I made the 33.1 mile “push” into Damascus with.

I was elated – I had found my hiking buddies and they weren’t too far ahead.

Leaving the Raccoon Wilderness, the trail briefly enters private land and crosses a cow pasture. I was making good time. After crossing a country road, the trail ascends and follows one of the aforementioned rocky ridge lines. It was beautiful, but all the views were obscured by trees.

I stopped to gather water about 3 miles from Partnership Shelter. Two things happened – first, I was attacked by mosquitos. It was the first time on this trip I had to put on bug spray (and not as a preventative measure). Second, my phone started chirping. Emails were coming through. I had cell coverage! After pausing to make a few quick calls, I pressed on.

I was still making good time, checking my GPS and figuring my average MPH as I hiked – today I was averaging between 2.5 and 3 miles per hour.

As I approached Partnership Shelter at 1:30, I came across a tent city. At first I was jealous – looking at all these hikers tenting together and having a good time.

Then I heard a “Cool Dad?”. It was Savage and Push! Then Moon Boots stuck his head out of a tent! Monster, Wanderer (or Juan – still haven’t asked his preference), Oriole and Sweet Potato were with them.

This tent city I had previously been jealous of was stocked with my hiking buddies and other hikers I had gotten to know better over the past week. Awesome!

I immediately threw down my pack and laid out my tent to dry in the sun. We all started catching up on what had happened over the past two days.

Moon Boots and Monster (aptly named because he’s huge – and ex-military from Germany) decided to put in their first 30 mile day. They had been tenting at Partnership since the night prior. Savage and Push held back and did a more moderate 20 mile – 20 mile to arrive at Parnership an hour before me.

Moon Boots, Savage and I started planning for the days ahead. It was decided that it just made sense to resupply in Marion instead of Atkins, seeing as how we were all here. I left the group to check to see if I had cell coverage closer to the road. I didn’t – upon my return, I was surprised to see that Canuck had arrived in camp. He ended up hammocking just three miles from me last night – presumably near the creek where I met the coyote.

Seeing as how it was now close to dinner time AND we were staying near the only shelter where we could order pizza, our entire tent city decided to put together a mega-order – seven hikers ordered $99 worth of cheap pizza. I alone ordered a large Stromboli. It was ridiculous – I only ate a third of it.

Canuck left camp to get a hotel room. I guess that got Moon Boots thinking. He casually asked if I wanted to split a room in Marion – he wanted to talk to his folks and I really needed to upload this blog. It was instantly settled. We quickly packed up and headed to the road crossing to hitch a ride.

Just under an hour later, Moon Boots and I found ourselves at the Travel Inn watching the Hawks lose to the Celtics. While he chatted on the phone, I made a quick run to Walmart to resupply, grabbing a pizza on the way home.

After organizing my food bag, I started updating my blog. Moon Boots fell fast asleep and I’m still typing.

The best that I can figure, Medicine Man, Shaggy and Clutch went back to Damascus to dry out. Canuck informed us that he started hiking yesterday just an hour after me and the three of them were packed up and waiting for a shuttle.

Moving forward, the tentative plan is to leave Marion tomorrow at noon and hike to Atkins, VA – it’s only 10 miles away. There’s a hiker-friendly restaurant right on the AT that I’d like to eat dinner at. After that, I’ve got 90 miles to Pearisburg – if I leave Atkins Tuesday morning, I hope to get there by Friday night or Saturday morning.

On cell coverage – I’ve found that the strength of my Verizon coverage is directly proportional to the type of national parkland I’m hiking in. If it’s a national park, chances are I’ve got a strong signal. If I’m hiking in national wilderness (like I’ve been hiking in since leaving Damascus), I have zero coverage.

Tomorrow I’ll need to hit the Verizon store to get an upgrade to the iPhone 6. I’ve already used all of the storage (pictures) with my iPhone 5 and don’t want to delete anything.

I’m tired but feeling good. These new Merrell trail runners are working great. When I woke up the morning after my hypothermia-hike, my shoes were still soaked. After an hour of hiking, they had dried out completely.

The Hawks lost in overtime.

Breakfast: two 30 gram Powerbar protein bars

Snack (3 miles from Partnership): the last of my dried figs, beef jerky.

Late Lunch: a third of a Stromboli (the other hikers at Partnership ate the rest)

Dinner: Half of a Little Caesar’s pepperoni Hot n’ Ready


Walmart: $62.55 (Crap! I also bought a wireless speaker to listen to music while at camp. They’re very popular on the trail.)

Little Caesars: $5.99

Room: $27.00

Day 45 – VA 600 to Dickey Gap, 25.3 miles, 518.3 total AT miles.

At around 9:30 last night, a thunderstorm hit our makeshift camp. I was nearly asleep when it struck. I quickly turned on my headlamp and checked the walls and floor of my tent – no leaks. I don’t remember when I drifted to sleep, but I do remember waking at around midnight to more driving rain and thunder. I slept restlessly the rest of the night.

I woke again at 5:30. By now the rain had stopped. The inside of my tent was dry – that’s all I cared about. As I was considering waking up, I fell back asleep, only to wake again at 7:30 – this time for good.
I packed everything I could before emerging from my tent. It was still cold, but at least I was dry. Before I fell asleep, I changed into my damp shorts – the body heat trapped in my sleeping bag completely dried them out.
I was expecting the cold when I finally stepped outside – I was not expecting the fog. I hadn’t seen fog this thick in a long time. Medicine Man, Shaggy and Clutch were still in their tents and I was nearly ready to go.

I walked over to the tree line and chatted with Canuck, still hanging in his hammock. He was awake and ready to start packing. I returned to our camp by the side of the road and spoke with first Medicine Man, then Clutch and Shaggy. The three of them were contemplating heading back to Damascus to dry out.
I was honestly tempted (for maybe had a minute), but decided to press on. Canuck wanted to eat before following. I left the guys at the roadside, not knowing what their final decision would be, and headed north into the fog.
It was cold still – the front that brought all the rain had not lifted and I started my day in full winter gear (what I had left, that is). Despite my near-hypothermia the day before, I was hiking strong. I stopped briefly at Thomas Knob Shelter four miles ahead and had a quick snack before making the push to Grayson Highlands State Park and the wild ponies.
It being a Saturday, I encountered numerous weekenders and section hikers as I made my way into the park. It was stunning. The Grayson Highlands easily make it to the top of my list as one of my favorite hikes to date.
I traversed rocky balds covered with green grass for miles. I saw a few ponies from afar, but didn’t got close enough to get a good picture. As I was hiking, the clouds starting breaking up and the sun began to shine. It was still windy and cold, but the view was remarkable.
At the north end of the park, it finally happened. I turned a bend in the trail and came face to face with a grazing pony. He/she looked at me and started shuffling my way, stopping near a patch of grass at my feet to continue eating. This was my pony.
My pony was little – it looked more like a donkey than a horse. But it didn’t matter. I was checking off a major AT milestone – I got to pet a wild pony in the Grayson Highlands. It was awesome.
Another milestone came to me shortly thereafter – I crossed the 500 mile mark and continued hiking.
I was fairly certain the guys that stayed behind would wind up in Damascus. And I knew Savage and Moon Boots were somewhere ahead. I decided then that I would bypass the next two shelters and make camp when it got dark or when I got tired.
After leaving the Grayson Highlands, the AT loses altitude – I soon found myself hiking in Rhododendron groves at 3,000 feet. It was noticeably warmer – I started hiking in shorts and a t-shirt once again.
I soon found myself in at Fox Creek having already hiked 20 miles on the day. I paused at the base of Chestnut Flats to consider my options. I had enough daylight to make it up and over – doing so, however, would mean that I was probably going to be setting up my tent at sunset. I pressed hard.
The AT Guide listed three possible campsites as I made my way to Dickey Gap. The first two were unoccupied. I decided to stop at the third to filter water. As I made my way down to the creek (headlamp on), I caught a pair of eyes glowing back at me.
It was a huge coyote – we ended up spooking each other. He/she froze in the beam of my light for a good ten seconds before slowly turning and slinking away. My rational mind said that it was okay – coyotes aren’t predators like wolves. But my normal mind was scared. I wanted to get the hell out of there as fast as possible.
I ended up stopping at Dickey Gap, right at the trail head for the Raccoon Wilderness. It was dark. Instead of camping in the grassy field by the road, I decided to pitch my tent right on the AT next to a informational display.
I crawled into my tent in the dark and contemplated making a hot meal, but I was low on water. I had enough to drink throughout the night, but not enough to cook. The weather got chilly, but I crawled into my sleeping to get warm before I started writing.
On tenting near roads: I’ve never had any problems with townies messing with me – aside from the occasional late-night horn honking. But this was different – I was alone. I only decided to tent on the AT to protect myself. If I was in a group, tenting in the grass would not have been a problem.
Tomorrow, I should make it the 25 miles to Atkins, VA for a quick resupply. I’ll pass Partnership Shelter near Marion, VA – the only shelter on the AT where you can use a pay phone to call for pizza delivery.
I still don’t have cell coverage (haven’t in three days now) and have no idea how far behind or ahead the rest of my hiking buddies are.
Full disclosure: I was a little scared at first, this being the first time I’ve camped alone and having just run across the coyote. As soon as I got my tent set up and my gear stowed inside, I was fine. The illusion of security.
Breakfast: 30 gram Powerbar protein bar, the very last of my homemade granola.
Lunch: three beef jerky tortilla roll ups with yellow mustard.
Snack: the last of my mini banana Moon Pies
Dinner: Everything – the last of my dried cranberries, two bags of beef jerky, the last of my tortillas, half of a chocolate orange

Day 44 – Friday, April 22: Stagnant Pond to VA 600, 12.3 miles, 493.0 total AT miles.

I woke up at 4:00am to the sound of light raindrops hitting my tent. I quickly fell back asleep. I woke again at 5:30 in the middle of a strong shower. I was wide awake and full of energy – I ran to retrieve my food bag and started packing up from within my tent.

By 6:30, the rain had let up just enough for me to take down my tent. Remembering that morning on the Nolichucky (when the skies opened up as soon as I removed my rainfly), I decided to take my tent down in reverse.

I unclipped my tent from the frame, thereby collapsing the part I sleep in, and left my rainfly attached to the poles, keeping me dry as I packed up the footprint (ground cover). I actually lounged under the rainfly and had a quick breakfast.

I left camp in steady rain at 7:00. Today’s hike called for my return to 5,000 feet in elevation. The forecast (last I heard in Damascus) called for rain all day.

I started hiking in my rain jacket and shorts. I cautiously sidestepped the larger puddles as I now was hiking in non-waterproof trail runners. For the most part, my feet stayed dry. And adding the Superfeet insoles made a world of difference – my feet felt better than they had in quite a while.

After a quick little ascent, I stopped at Lost Mountain Shelter four miles up trail to have a snack and make sure everything was staying dry. I was ahead of everyone I camped with, but a little too late to catch any stragglers hanging out at the shelter.

I was making good miles early and decided to make a cup of coffee and use the privy before moving on. As I was finishing up, Savage, Medicine Man and Moon Boots arrived – 15 minutes later, I was back on the trail.

Our major summit of the day lay ahead – Whitetop Mountain. I made the slow approach to the base of the mountain in great weather. It had dried out and warmed to the point where I was now hiking in just a t-shirt.

Whitetop gains about 2,000 feet over 5 miles – that’s a very manageable grade. As I started climbing, the skies got darker and darker and the wind started picking up. About halfway up, the rain began in earnest. I immediately threw on my rain jacket and hiked on.

To traverse Whitetop Mountain, I had to cross 1.5 miles of rocky, exposed bald. And this is where things went bad. The temperature started noticeably dropping – I could feel it. For a good five minutes, the rain switched over to this sleet/hail mix – it only made me hike faster. My hands were getting numb and I was starting to shiver as I made my descent.

The road crossing for VA 600 was in another 1.5 miles. As I made my descent, I started considering my options. VA 600 was only 4 miles away from Thomas Knob Shelter – my goal for the day until very recently.

I needed to get warm. After those intermittent morning rains I hiked through and this most recent soaking, cold storm, my rain jacket was soaked through, as were my shorts, socks and shoes. I was shivering so hard, the muscles in my back were starting to hurt – no joke.

I made it to the road and sought temporary refuge under an eave next to a roadside privy. Medicine Man had been hiking ahead of me and had already set up his tent. I set up my rainfly in the frigid rain and dragged my pack underneath, just as I had done this morning (only in reverse).

I wrapped myself in my footprint and leaned against my pack to block the drafts of cold air whipping through. I slowly started warming up. I ate a few snacks and talked to Medicine Man (through our tent walls), but didn’t make a move until the rain abated – I wasn’t going to allow myself to get any wetter.

At around 3:00pm, the rain finally slowed enough for me to quickly lay out my footprint and clip in my tent. I climbed inside (and haven’t left, incidentally). I put on my puffy coat and changed out of my wet shorts, socks and underwear before hopping in my sleeping bag.

I half expected to warm up and hike on, but it never happened. Savage caught up just in time to have an early dinner before pressing on to Thomas Knob. She was cold, but decided to press on – she wanted to sleep in a shelter in case the weather turned bad tonight.

Shaggy arrived, wet and cold, and decided to tent as well. In time, Canuck and Clutch arrived. They got a late start and waited out the entire storm at Lost Mountain Shelter – the same place I had my morning coffee.

Moon Boots had an awful night last night – his tent flooded again. He was determined to make it to the Thomas Knob as well. He jumped ahead of me during my ascent of Whitetop.

I made dinner from inside my tent – it was awful. I found an expensive Backpacker’s Pantry freeze-dried meal in the hiker box in the Super 8 in Erwin, TN. I had been carrying it for a special occasion. I gave it to Summer – she only ate half.

Here’s the deal about today – had I known that this storm was approaching, I would have waited it out at Lost Mountain Shelter. In Damascus, I (and just about every other hiker) switched over to our summer packs. I sent home my base layers, wool hat, and gloves.

Simply put, I can handle rain – warm, Spring rain, not this wintry storm. The good news is I did what I was supposed to do. I got off the mountain as soon as possible. I made a shelter to get out of the rain. Then I got warm and dry.

I was actually in a pretty bad mood while making supper – I didn’t get an early start today just to get pinned down at 2:00pm by weather I wasn’t prepared for. It’s disappointing.

A Forest Service employee did let us know that tomorrow was going to be clear and (eventually) in the 70’s. At least I should have decent weather for my short section in the Grayson Highlands with the wild ponies.

It’s funny how things can change so quickly out here. I was enjoying my early morning hike, walking through damp Rhododendron groves as I slowly ascended into the clouds.

Moving forward, I don’t foresee this setback affecting my arrival in Atkins, VA for a quick resupply. I should arrive Monday morning.

Today was the first time during this entire hike I wanted to be somewhere else. If someone had stopped and offered a ride to town, I would have accepted. Laying here now, I’m glad that didn’t happen.

I’m still having the time of my life.

Breakfast: homemade granola, 1 Powerbar 30 gram protein bar, 1 mini banana Moon Pie

Snack: beef jerky, coffee

Lunch: (under the rainfly) beef jerky, almonds, figs

Dinner: (still in my tent) 1/4 of a Backpacker’s Pantry Jerk Chicken with an extra packet of chicken added as well as the last of my kale. Then 3 mini banana Moon Pies and some dried cranberries

Day 43 – Thursday, April 21: Damascus, VA to Stagnant Pond, 11.7 miles, 480.7 total AT miles.

Note: I lost cell service shortly after leaving Damascus and haven’t picked it back up – trail rumor had us having cell service all the way through the Grayson Highlands.
I woke up feeling refreshed after spending a night sleeping on the porch. My summer bag worked just fine – it was my first night in recent memory I didn’t wake up sweating. I’m confident this summer bag is going to work out just fine. It’s over a pound lighter and condenses to the size of a Nalgene bottle. I’m pleased.

I started packing up while everyone slept inside. The other early risers and I then started tidying up the lodge – 7 hikers can do a lot of damage in two days.

After a quick breakfast, I threw on my pack and headed to town. The plan was to meet at Mojo’s, a coffee shop that supposedly served some pretty decent food.

I stopped off at the post office to mail my winter gaiters home – they don’t work with trail runners.

I made my way to the coffee shop (located on the AT, on the edge of downtown Damascus), sat by the window and continued pricing lenses. I ended up purchasing one and having it shipped to Atlanta – it should arrive in time to go into my next mail drop.

I ordered a sandwich to go and chatted on the phone with family – while I was in town for two full days, I felt like I barely had time to catch up. That’s become one of the only drawbacks to this hike – I miss being able to speak regularly with my friends and family.

By noon, the seven of us had reassembled. Clutch ended up buying a Martin guitar at Adventure Damascus – it’s really nice. At my father’s suggestion, I went next door to Sundog Outfitters to look for some sort of anti-fungal spray for my feet – a preventative measure (for now). They didn’t sell it. It’s on my list for Atkins, VA.

While Medicine Man initially wanted to spend another night in town with Summer, she seemed to be in very good spirits. He decided to leave town with us – it looks like we’ll be sticking around together a little while longer.

As is usually the case, leaving town means an ascent. I paused to talk on the phone one last time before heading into the woods. After just over an hour of steady climbing, the AT starts following Laurel Creek (I think) and parallels the Virginia Creeper Trail. The Virginia Creeper is a converted rail line now acting as a graded bicycle/jogging path – it actually intersects the AT in the heart of Damascus.

I got to hike on the Virginia Creeper for about a quarter mile today. A foot bridge was washed out ahead and the official deviation called for a quick jump over to the Creeper – it reminds me of the Silver Comet Trail back in Georgia.

After hopping back on the “real” AT, I made the two mile slog up to Saunders Shelter. Not only was it beginning to feel like spring with temps in the low 70s, it was starting to look like spring. I caught a glimpse of some mountains in the distance and was struck by how green they looked. Spring is certainly on the way, at least in the lower elevations.

After a quick break at a campsite north of Saunders Shelter, I pushed on. The plan was to meet at the “pond” and camp – this is how it’s labeled in the AT Guide. When I looked it up on my GPS/mapping app, the same body of water was named “Stagnant Pond”. It didn’t sound promising.

I made it to camp at 5:30 and found a spot next to Moon Boots and Savage. And yes, it’s a stagnant pond. After a hearty dinner, I (and nearly everyone else) went to their tents before sunset.

We’re actually tenting near the same trio of hikers that grilled with us two nights ago – Wanderer (Juan) carries a miniature banjo and entertained us with some tunes. He’s quite good.

Tomorrow calls for a 17 mile day – I want to tent just outside of Grayson Highlands State Park, home of the wild ponies. I’ve been looking forward to this section for years.

Tomorrow also calls for rain. It looks like we’ll be getting rain for the next week. I’m curious to see how this effects my new trail runners as they’re not waterproof. I’ve already got a spare pair of socks tucked away in an outside pocket of my pack.

And about those new shoes. No toe pain, no heel pain – I really thought I found the answer. About halfway through today’s hike, I noticed that calluses on the bottom of my left foot were starting to hurt. When I got to camp last night, I removed the flimsy shoe inserts that came with my Merrells and replaced them with the Superfeet insoles I crammed into my camp shoes. I’m hoping that the added support will help.

Having a trail dog is pretty awesome. Summer darted from hiker to hiker today, always careful not to stray too far from Medicine Man. She’s really taken to life on the AT.

As always, it feels good to be back on the trail. I’m looking forward to really cranking out some miles in the week ahead.

Breakfast: more homemade granola, coffee

Lunch: coffee, half a BBQ pork sandwich

Snack: the other half of the sandwich, Little Debbie Cosmic Brownie, one fun size Snickers

Dinner: Fettucini Alfredo with buffalo chicken and Kale, three tortillas, small serving of almonds

Money: Mojo’s – $12.25 plus $2.75 tip

Day 42 – Wednesday, April 20: Damascus, VA (Zero Day), 469.0 total AT miles.

I woke early and made my way outside to the patio. The breeze coming off the river was refreshing. If I wanted to leave Damascus before dusk, I still had a lot to accomplish.

8:30am – After a quick (leftover grilled meat) breakfast, I went back to my room to start getting ready for the day. I noticed the charging light on my external battery was unlit. I unplugged it from the wall – it hadn’t taken any charge since I plugged it in yesterday. I immediately tried a new outlet and was happy to see it still worked. I guess the outlet by my bed was out.
9:00am – I walked down to the Food City to supplement my mail drop resupply. While I received enough beef jerky, almonds and other assorted snacks to last me for at least a week, I still needed to buy a few Pasta Sides and salmon packets to last me the 3 to 4 days until I reach Atkins, VA.
I bought some Jif peanut powder. It’s got 8 grams of protein per scoop and looks to be a low-fat way to add protein to my dinners.

I also bought a huge box of mini banana Moon Pies. Every since I had one (trail magic) over a week ago, I’ve been craving them.
And on Shaggy’s recommendation, I bought some powdered Gatorade. It’s been getting very warm out and I need to start thinking about replacing electrolytes as I’ll soon be sweating a lot.
Oh yeah, more kale too.
Food City: $33.81
10:00am – After dropping my groceries at the lodge and checking my external battery (25% charged), I headed back into town to visit the outfitters.
I purchased two Sea to Summit 7 liter waterproof dry bags to replace my bulky 20 liter food bag. It was my hope that two smaller food bags would ride better in my pack than one large one.
Adventure Damascus: $38.98
I walked next door and bought a pair of Outdoor Research lightweight gaiters. While they aren’t waterproof, they will prevent debris from getting into my shoes and giving me more heel blisters.
On the way out, I snagged a box so I could ship my winter sleeping bag and old boots home.
Mount Rogers Outfitters: $22.00
11:30 – With new food bags in tow, I began organizing my mail drop and recently purchased food. I condensed my beef jerky into three Ziplock bags to save space. I put all my pastas in one bag, my dinner proteins (bacon bits, salmon, chicken) into another – this just makes it easier to find what I need when I get into camp.
It took a while to get my food bags balanced, but they ride a whole lot better in my pack than the one big bag.
1:00 – After boxing up my winter gear (and some birthday gifts to ship to my mom and sister), I walked back downtown to the post office. While waiting in line, I chatted with a local about my hike. Damascus really is a friendly town.
2:00 – I made my way back to the lodge to grab my keyboard. There were only two places in town (that I knew of) that served food and had wifi. I headed back downtown to Hey Joe’s and had a burrito while I updated the blog, paid bills, etc.
I was unable to fix my camera lens last night and started pricing out a replacement online.
5:00 – And done. I was excited to have finished all my town errands and wanted to get back on the trail. My plan was to hike only two miles to a campsite. This would give me a great head start on tomorrow.
When I got back to the lodge, I checked my external battery – it was only 50% charged.
This posed a huge problem. With my digital camera out of commission, I’d be relying on my cell phone more. My next scheduled zero day would be in 8 days (Pearisburg, VA). I needed a full battery to go the distance.
I was stuck. But this wasn’t a bad thing – everyone else had booked a second night at the lodge.
And Moon Boots baked a ham – it was delicious. We spread some slices on a sheet pan and dried them in the oven in an attempt to make ham jerky. It was better than you’d think.
7:00 – Instead of eating from my food bag, I headed back to Food City and bought some pork chops and peanut sauce – Savage had also been planning on tenting tonight (further up trail), but decided to tag along.
I walked through the bakery and was drawn to this giant sheet cake, airbrushed in a crazy neon rainbow pattern. It was hideous. 

I put it in the cart.
Food City: $26.15
8:00 – I walked back to the lodge and found Medicine Man, Moon Boots, Canuck and Clutch all playing poker – I asked if I could jump in as dealer. I had a blast.
9:00 – The chops went on the grill and I was soon enjoying dinner.
10:00 – I wanted to test out my new summer bag and decided to sleep on the patio – it’s going to get into the low 50s tonight.
I’m tired, and a little frustrated I wasn’t able to leave town. But I’m thankful I got to hang out with everyone tonight. Moon Boots and I discussed the probable reality that the seven of us likely won’t be able to continue hiking at the same pace. We are one of the larger groups I’ve run across out here – most hikerS team up in groups of three.
Medicine Man will probably need to take it a little slower with Summer, for instance. Canuck and Clutch were talking about going to a music festival and Shaggy’s going to visit family in a few weeks.
It’s a little sad to think that this “trail family” might not get to share another place in town again – or even another campsite for that matter. Everyone here is hiking their own hike. I’m just glad I’ve had the opportunity to share it so far with some genuinely good people – I sincerely trust each one of them. I have to.
Staying this second night in town (or third, depending on how you look at it) doesn’t really effect my timeline moving forward. My goal is to hike about 10 miles out of Damascus tomorrow – I’ve found it’s never a good idea to put up big miles after a day off.
If all goes according to plan tomorrow, I’ll wake up the following morning with about 155 miles until I reach Pearisburg, VA – I’d like to be there in 7 to 8 days.
On lodgings: most hostels charge around $20 for a space in the bunk house, maybe $30 for a room. While it’s fun to hang out with other hikers, I’ve largely stayed in hotel rooms. It’s usually just a few bucks more (after I split the room), but the amenities are so much nicer.
I paid $33 a night at the lodge to use a full kitchen and grill. We all ate so much better cooking at home than if we had gone to restaurants the past two days. It was well worth the extra $13.
Breakfast – leftover sausage, homemade granola (it’s got pumpkin seeds and almonds)
Lunch – vegetarian burrito with chicken added, chips and salsa, about 4 sweet teas
Dinner – grilled pork with spicy peanut sauce, rainbow sheet cake