My Second Month on the Appalachian Trail

Slinky, Scratchuns, Deets, and I (Pinky) have become an official tramily, and have been together through it all. We take our pee breaks on the opposite sides of the same tree, share precious treats from home, and have experienced all of these highlights, and lowlights, together. 

The Putzers: Pinky, Deets, DJ Scratchuns, and the Slinky Dawg. 



Early in our second month on trail, we made it to Damascus, Virginia! Damascus is one of the most well known towns on trail, mostly due to hosting the Trail Days festival every year. Unlike the tiny trail towns of the south, Damascus had multiple restaurant options and even some fun things to do. We enjoyed the Main Street Ice Cream Café where we indulged in giant sandwiches, iced coffees, avocado toast, and ice cream. 

Deets and Pinky in Damascus. 


Everyone always talks about the Greyson Highland ponies, but I thought that the Greyson Highlands landscape was even more exciting. In the Greyson Highlands State Park you will find evergreen forests, rolling meadows, and rock crags that can only be described as other worldly. For about a mile, the trail oscillates between walking on a flat desert path, and climbing up and over rocks. I’ve never seen anything like it, and would like to go on a proper tour someday. 

View of the Greyson Highlands.


For about a week, we got to spend time with our friends Cool Ass Paul (CAP), Llama, Bambi, and Radar. We stayed at a hostel together, did a marathon  slackpack day, ate gas station Mexican food, had a few campfires, and made it to the quarter way to Maine sign. CAP has hiked most of the trail before and is a pretty fast hiker. My group, affectionately called the Putzers, tried to teach him how to slow down and enjoy trail life. After three days of really good putzing, CAP bought us a cake and disappeared into the night. 

Cool Ass Paul and the Putzers, a quarter of the way to Maine!


About a week after CAP disappeared, we made it to the town of Pearisburg, home to Dismal Falls, a beautiful waterfall right on trail. We hitched a ride to Trent’s Grocery to pick up beers and snacks, and spent a whole afternoon swimming in the waterfall. We ran into a sweet couple from Asheville, Mossy and AllAround, who spent the afternoon with us. After swimming and drinking, we all walked to a nearby campsite to set up our tents for the night. AllAround and Scratchuns built a big fire, and we sat and chatted under the stars for the rest of the night.

The Putzers and Friends at Dismal Falls.


We passed the largest oak tree on the southern portion of the trail, the Keffer Oak!!! This tree can only be described as absolutely majestic; it’s limbs were the size of the trunks of normal oak trees. We sat under the 300 year old tree for a few minutes and enjoyed her shade and strength. 

The Majestic Keeffer Oak.


Since the beginning of our tramily, Slinky has been talking about how excited she was to stay in the Troutville Holiday Inn Express for her birthday. We had no idea how much we would enjoy our night there! Troutville consisted of a diner brunch stop (with tequila sunrises), an amazing stay at a decent hotel, and a trail friend reunion at the Three Pigs BBQ. We had dinner on the patio with our friends Anna, Kids Meal, Milez, 700, Ponyboy, Masochist, Alchemist, and Babs. I even found my first decent salad in the south there! 


At the end of the month, my parents came to visit again! My dad and dog hiked with us for three days, racking up another 50 miles. My mom is the best trail angel in the world; she booked our hotel room, picked us up from the trail, let us borrow her car for a grocery run, slackpacked us, brought us snacks, and took us to the grocery store again before leaving. What would have been a really hard section of trail was made 100% easier from having her around. 

Pinky’s Parents, the Old Man and the Trail Angel.


The honeymoon of month one is officially over. April brought us some real challenges. 


The Virginia Triple Crown is composed of three natural wonders; Dragons Tooth, Macaffees Knob, and the Tinker Cliffs. Unfortunately, we hit this section of trail on some really hot, dry days. We still enjoyed the sights, but also learned an important lesson of checking the distance between water sources on hot days.

The Putzers on the Virginia Triple Crown.


Early in the month, we decided to camp on Buzzard Rock, a gorgeous grassy bald that featured a rock out cropping. When we set up camp, it was breezy, but not too cold. As the night went on, the wind just kept picking up. I had to get up every hour to put my tent stakes back in the ground, because the whipping wind kept blowing them out. I don’t think any of us got more than a few hours of sleep, but it was the most beautiful place I’ve ever camped. 

Buzzard Rock


A few days after doing the slackpack marathon with CAP, my foot became swollen, with a large bump right on the top. It got so large that I had to untie my shoe! Luckily enough, Slinky Dawg is a physical therapist, and checked out my foot. She said I must have aggravated my second toe, and the swelling was the tendon that leads to that toe. I took a day off at a creepy hotel and the swelling eventually went down. 


We were also confronted by goats. Read my blog post about it here.



I don’t want to stereotype everyone in the south as ignorant or homophobic, but I have never heard so much hate speech in my life. I identify as bisexual, and my sibling is transgender, so LGBTQIA+ matters hit close to home. I have the privilege of being straight-passing, but have still experienced some horrific things. Even while getting a ride from a shuttle driver, he started an unrelated conversation about if kids should be allowed around trans folks. A gay couple on trail wasn’t even allowed to stay in a bunk house at a shelter. I’m lucky to have gotten the opportunity to travel, but I’m ready to be back in the North, where your gender identity or sexual orientation doesn’t matter as much. Hateful people are everywhere, but there is a certain feeling  of peace that I feel in Vermont.


Contrary to popular belief, VIRGINIA IS NOT FLAT! The last few days have had some of the longest, toughest climbs of the whole trail. Virginia is slightly easier than the constant ups and downs of GA, but there has not been an easy day in quite some time. Luckily, we’re just a few days from the start of Shenandoah! 

A very non-flat Virginia.


Erin “Pinky” Eberhardt is a NOBO hiker in the AT class of 2023. Read her first post, an introduction of herself, here.

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Comments 6

  • David Finney : May 1st

    It,s Grayson Highlands not greyson highlands

    • Jimmy Jack : May 18th

      You’re a square

  • MCB : May 2nd

    It’s It’s not It,s

    Thanks Pinky for sharing your tales, it’s fun to follow your adventures! I appreciate you, and all the other folks doing the same, knowing that trying to find a moment to write during the day isn’t the easiest thing to do and often takes place in a tent, with a headlamp, when you’d rather be calling it a day.

  • Cheryl AKA Ma !! : May 5th

    You are doing an amazing job Keep trucking Love bumping into you ☺️ Love your blog !!

  • Krysta : Jul 1st

    Hi Erin!

    Love following you on your adventures, and I’m keeping your students up to date on where you are! 🙂 Safe travels!


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