Wild Ponies, Hiker Hunger, and the Beauty of Virginia

My sixth week will provide a lifetime of memories for me. Many big firsts as I hit Virginia: Damascus, Grayson Highlands, wild ponies, unique landscapes, true hiker hunger, and a blister.

No complaints about the blister—it took 480 miles to get one and what I ignored as a hot spot I’d look at during lunch was a nickel size blister under my big toe. After a little trailside needle sterilization and lance away, drain, triple antibiotics, and some Leukotape, I was good to go.

My  childhood dream of hiking the trail started in Virginia 45 years ago, so getting here brought it full circle. Damascus was a highlight  simply because it’s the first hiker town NOBO in Virginia and hosts Trail Days every May. Caught up with a Florida Trail alumnus for dinner, good buddy Richard Petty.

I was jazzed up to see wild ponies in Grayson Highlands, and they were amazing. What pleasantly surprised me was the overall beauty of the highlands. A must-see for sure. Might be my favorite area thus far.

Hiker hunger has arrived. I am always hungry, and constant snacking on the trail helps reduce pack weight. So far I’m down 15 pounds and I think more will be gone soon. I was hoping not to lose weight. Oh well! It’s amazing to see the culinary ingenuity of trail food combinations. My personal snack favorite is to use my Snickers bar to dip out my Jif peanut cups—life-changing goodness.

Before the end of my sixth week I should be at 25 percent complete. Hiking long or steep uphills I use a meditation technique my youngest daughter taught me called mindfulness meditation using your five senses. I utilize breathing and can tackle long, steep grades without ever stopping. Thanks, Haley.




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Comments 3

  • Beretta and Dave : Apr 1st

    Go John Go!!!
    While you’ve been hiking Beretta has been learning to wear her boots.
    The training continues.
    Thank You

  • Nikki : Apr 1st

    It has been great following your journey so far, and it doesn’t look like you’ll be letting the Virginia Blues get you down. I hope things warm up for you!

  • Jan : Apr 1st

    Hang in there, John! I’m lovin your trip – always awaiting your next post.


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