Appalachian Trail Update: Mile 420.2 – Mile 532.4
This morning I climbed Pond Mountain and when I reached the bottom, I saw a handwritten sign that said “trail magic, riff raff Hiker party”. There was a number on the sign for a free ride. I called and was picked up within 5 minutes. They had free beer, food, and showers. It looked like most of the other hikers that went through that area, acted on the trail magic too. It was nice to see so many familiar faces and hang out off trail.
I accepted a trail name today, “Stinker”.
I got a later start this morning. I had to wait for a ride back to the trail. The trail went around the perimeter of Watauga Lake for about a mile and a half and then crossed the dam.
I made it 20.5 miles today. My biggest day yet. This puts me about 19 miles away from the Virginia border and about 25 away from Damascus and Trail Days.
This morning I slowly and lazily packed up my things. Once I got to the road, I was greeted with an ice cream sandwich. I went a little further up the trail and was greeted by the one and only Zach “Badger” Davis (he runs this website and wrote a lovely book called Appalachian Trials). He had set up there and was giving out donuts.
I hiked on and off with Firefly today and saw the same 12 people throughout the day. We all set up at a pretty big site about 7 miles from Damascus. I started a fire and we all hung out until around 9. The energy was really great today. We’re all pretty excited to get into town for Trail Days.
A lot of exciting things happened today. I crossed the Tennessee/Virginia state line. I made it just in time for Trail Days 2017. I drank 5 beers, ate 3 complete meals without any leftovers. It was lovely.
Damascus is an ultimate trail town. It’s a beautiful place. I feel like I’d like to come back through when it’s not Trail Days. The vibe must be a bit different. It’s super rowdy and crowded for the festival right now.
I set up my tent in tent city. It’s $5 to get in. There’s a huge field and also a trail that meanders through the woods and along a creek. I was told the trail to the right is the loud area and the trail to the left is quieter camp. When I say loud I mean, there’s a drum circle and bon fire until 3am. So, I set up on the trail to the left.
This morning I went to a $5 all you can eat pancake breakfast which was put on by a local church in Damascus. The church also washed my laundry for free.
After breakfast, I went back to my tent, organized my things, and packed up to go into town. A shuttle took me back to town. It also was free of charge and was put on by the church. I grabbed some clif bars at the outfitters and had lunch with Whitney.
I walked through the vendors once more and grabbed a hot fudge brownie sundae.
I left town around 5pm and started hiking out. I set up around mile 473. Tomorrow I’ll do a higher mileage day and have a shorter day on Monday. I meet up with Duane and my pup around mile 500 early Monday evening. I really can’t wait to see them and for them to hike with me! Really. Can’t. Wait.
Today was rough. It rained from the moment I woke up and is still raining as I type this at 8:41pm. I waited until I was in my tent to cry.
I think the worst part about rain all day is putting on wet socks in the morning. It really is awful.
I’m trying to rationalize why I cried. For one, I was wet and cold. And all of my gear is wet. Two, I climbed a mountain and there was no view, no pay off, just strong wind in addition to the rain. And three, I am worried about the rest of this week. I really want to enjoy my time with Duane while he’s here and all day rain isn’t and wouldn’t be enjoyable.
A positive statement – The trail went through a cow pasture today. That was pretty exciting.
Tomorrow I’ll get to see two of my best friends (my awesome boyfriend and my sweet pup), wild ponies, and hit 500 miles. Tomorrow will be better.
Today was much better. The rain cleared around mid morning. I saw wild ponies. I met Duane and my dog. And I passed mile 500. All good things.
Today started out just fine. It was drizzling but manageable. We saw more ponies and longhorn cattle throughout the morning.
As the day went on, the rain got worse. We were aiming for 17 miles today but got around 13. I’m proud of that. Hiking in the rain really slows you down. There’s so much mud and water on the trail. It’s hard to just stay upright. I’m also impressed with how quickly Duane hikes. Stretch and I tried to keep up all day.
We made it 17 miles today. Our pace was over 2 miles an hour. Our motivation was hot showers, food, and a dry bed. We made it to Mount Rogers Visitor Center right after 4pm and got a ride into town.
I really love looking up the trail and seeing my dog and Duane ahead of me. I love these two so much. It’s a such a nice change and I can’t help but smile thinking about it now.
End of Day 45.
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