Sauntering Through Tennessee

20/20 coming at you from the Virginia Appalachians. According to the internet, Virginia is flat. Looking at the upcoming elevation profiles, I beg to differ.

Album picks: the entire Iron Maiden discography

Knee pain: 1/10 and no longer an issue

Making it to Damascus

The days have started blending together in my mind. We will be blessed with a warm, sunny day, then right after get multiple days of rain, wind, and cold. I’m not going to pretend like I enjoy it when the weather is like that. It’s tough and the hardest hiking I’ve done, but every step gets me closer to Maine. No pain, no rain, no Maine. I have been putting in significant miles recently, working hard to make it as far as I can as fast as I can. But I do take rest days when my body requires it, although I may need to do some shorter days soon to alleviate some of the mental strain of big miles. The payoff is still worth it to me though. The joy you experience when the fog breaks and you look up to a patch of blue sky for the first time in two days is indescribable. Hearing a bird for the first time or coming across two huge white-tails in an alpine wonderland who don’t seem to care that you’re there; those are the things that bring a smile to my face. That and the sun, I’m starting to think I’m part plant with how much better I feel when the sun is out.

An Untimely Poop

If you’re squeamish, don’t read the following.

The day I went over the Roans, I thought I had taken care of my business about a half mile into the day as I’ve had to do in Tennessee. That was a fatal assumption. It was a beautiful day to be doing this section, all I heard from anyone was ‘do it while it’s sunny’, and I was blessed with perfect conditions. As I was coming over Roan High Knob, I began running into the talkative and curious day hikers wanting to know more about the hike, and I was getting stopped pretty regularly (which is normally fine, I enjoy talking to day and section hikers). This day though, my body decided it needed a round two with a cathole at about 11:00 a.m. I just went through the parking lot after Roan High, received some awesome trail magic (thanks Wiwok), and started climbing the gentle slope of Round Bald when the sensation first came over me. “Oh fuck.” I was on a grassy bald with 48 other tourists with many eyes on me because I was clearly a thru-hiker. For those who have never been to / heard of one, a bald is a mountaintop with zero or scant few trees. They’re beautiful if you don’t have a hiker dump pushing out. I began looking around to assess each loose patch of trees and shrubs for cover, but each was just thin enough that I would inevitably be seen by some family going for a day hike after church or something. I was going to have to figure something out. Several people were trying to stop for conversation, and at first I was being polite, but I had to start abruptly shutting people down while I was hiking so I wouldn’t get caught in another five-minute conversation. Finally, I saw my salvation. As I was slipping and sliding down the ‘trail’ (more like mud ditches) over the bald, I saw a good patch of forest on the side of the next bald ahead. I started sliding down the trail like I was ice skating on the mud. When I finally got to the spot, I ran into the trees, was jumping over roots and branches to find a spot, then found a perfect huge boulder with enough cover for me. It was my port in the storm, a light in the darkness. I went behind it and dug that cathole faster than any I had before, dropped trou, and did what I had to do. While I was taking care of business, I started to hear voices nearby. “Must be some noisy kids on the trail,” I thought. Sound travels in weird ways in the mountains with all the rocks and ridges. The voices got closer and closer and eventually I knew they had to be right there on the other side of the boulder. Frantically I yelled out “I promise y’all don’t want to come behind this rock.” I just heard some laughs and a “we got you chief” and the voices faded away, but I thought for sure I was about to get stumbled upon. Once I was cleaned up and this whole ordeal was over, I was floating down the trail like a butterfly with how much weight I shit out behind that rock. Thanks for being there for me boulder, I’ll never forget you.

Growth on The Trail

This topic is a lot. I’ve had more time to think since I’ve started hiking than any other time in my life. I believe I’ve mentioned it before, but for me, the trail is paramount to meditation. It’s like having a mirror for your mind and soul. There’s no one out there assessing you besides yourself for almost the entire day (at least the lonesome way I hike). The trail has funny ways of bringing up past memories and experiences you haven’t thought of in years. One thing I am searching for is humility. I know at some point I will get put in my place on this trail, get humbled somehow. I can’t wait for the day. Right now I can do big miles, go fast, wake up early, and generally just be a strong hiker; but I know this isn’t the only thing that will get me to Katahdin. An acceptance of my place, my purpose, and my limitations must be achieved to reach the final goal. And more importantly than knowing yourself is an understanding of how important others are in this journey. If you want to go fast, go alone. if you want to go far, go together. To me that doesn’t mean you need a ‘tramily’, but it does mean you need to be a productive and contributing member of the community.

Thoughts Heading Into Virginia

Virginia is known as the state where the mental challenges of thru-hiking become a grim reaper of those trying to make it to Maine. I’ve passed the physical test, now I’ve just to keep my goal in mind, my limitations known, and enjoy the hike. Simple enough right! I know this state will be more challenging than all the others I’ve successfully gone through, and I’m ready for the test. It’s the longest section of trail in one state and makes up over 25% of the entire AT. Bring it on! I’m gonna have the time off my life in VA!


Until next time, 20/20 out ~ hiking fast and ripping ass!

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Comments 1

  • Damon Gannon : Mar 29th

    That is hilarious. I laughed so hard that I almost spit my coffee out while reading this post. Keep up the good work. “No pain, no rain, no Maine.” Love it.


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