Who is this Weary Traveller? Week 6 AT Journal.
Hello Friends! The Appalachian Trail attracts a variety of people. People of all different ages and backgrounds. Coming together we form a sort of fraternal order. Once one connects with the trail I imagine they are always part of it.
As we become more established in our relationship with the trail, the unique culture becomes even more apparent and we feel welcomed into it.
There are those who want to find themselves those who want to lose themselves. Some who are young, between school and whatever kind of career choices they might make in the future. There are those who are older, who have devoted their lives to being responsible in the traditional sense and after raising families, finally have an opportunity to do something they’ve always wanted to do.
There are those who are somewhere in between, in search of something more meaningful.
Many are in search of a deeper healing than modern life can provide. Some are running from responsibility while some are searching for responsibility.
There is a Never Never Land quality of play combined with an Narnian altering of time.
Trail names allow for a sense of anonymity, as well as the development of a new personality, or the release of repressed characteristics. Wild, smelly children smiles on our faces, we parade down a trail marked with white blazes all day, and go to bed at a reasonable hour.
The trail provides consistency and structure within an uncertain world.
The trail develops an almost god-like character. More than one person has said to me that they listen to the trail or that the trail tells them what to do.
I’m not surprised when the trail turns the corner and we discover an older man in his underwear smacking his package of ramen against a log as he boils water on a tiny camp stove. He smiles and asks where we’re camping tonight. I do not hesitate to tell him since he is my brother in the trail.
Today we took a Nero into Damascus. It was 3.9 miles from our campsite on the border of Virginia. I had some sharp pains in my foot as we descended but those pains subsided, which is good.
Our first order of business was to go to the Damascus diner, and get some breakfast, and it was very tasty and they had good coffee too.
Then we went to the outfitter and picked up our summer quilt. We sent our 20 degree bags home along with our gloves and my rain pants. We will have them shipped back to us when we get further up the trail and the weather cools off.
Paul exchanged his old broken Darn Tough socks for some new ones at the outfitter.
We went to a nice pavilion at a park next to a stream to relax and use their charging station and bathroom.
After a rest we resupplied and felt very familiar with the items we were acquiring. However, we managed to get a lot of food again, but that’s OK. We will eat it over the next few days.
We headed to The Place Hostel and set up our tent just in time for the rain to start.
The Place is a non-commercial hostel. Bayou is the caretaker. He is discerning about who should stay for hostels are for the weary traveler.
The only thing the place doesn’t have his laundry and so after my shower, Paul was kind enough to take all of our laundry to another hostel. However, their laundry service was that they take your laundry and do it themselves and give it back to you later Paul had to explain to them that he had his his naked wife in his tent, and she needed clothing, so he selected the perfect loaner clothes to take back.
We had a dinner filled with fruits and vegetables and cheese and treats.
We awoke to a nice cool morning. After packing up, we headed over to pick up our laundry and then headed over to the diner to be there in time for breakfast.
We ate our egg sandwiches at the bar. Paul made Irish French toast; potatoes with butter and syrup on them.
Then we headed out of town back on the trail! We had a nice Nero of 9.4 miles and found a beautiful place to camp behind a shelter with a bear box. This was great, so that Paul didn’t have to worry about hanging or extremely heavy bags.
In fact, everybody’s bags seemed very heavy.
I decided to let everyone I encountered know that it was self-care week. She offered suggestions such as stretching, drinking water 😂, relaxing, footbath. People seemed interested.
I feel like my foot is looking much better. She can see definition in it for the first time in weeks so the lower mileage days are very helpful.
We did make a plan for the rest of our time up to Marion.
And we worked on our chapter 2 movie.
What a great day!
Today we woke to a beautiful morning. We had breakfast in bed and we’re sure to make our way to the privy before it got busy.
We headed out on the trail and both felt pretty good.
After a few miles we had a nice long break and stretched out our mats in a rhododendron hidden area.
We could see different hikers as they pass by with their different strides. A few of them were breathing quite heavily shingling rather fast.
We made our way up suddenly to the top of another bald. It was nice to have those views again. Several other people arrived during our break on the bald. It was a good place to stop and reconstitute oneself.
It began to rain as we all gathered water from the near water source and all day, and I headed down the path and found a place to set up our tent in the rain.
I had put together what is known as a Roman bomb in our Nalgene bottle. This is instant mashed potatoes, and Roman noodles cooked together, and it turned out quite good cold soaked. We’re not too worried about the lack of nutrients because we ate a very nice nutritious, fiesta, corn with fresh squeezed lime juice for lunch and bananas with almond butter for breakfast.
Cookie butter is enjoyable to eat at all times of the day. Our daily eating consists typically of either before breakfast, snack or breakfast, then breakfast if we didn’t already have it in our tent. After that is snacktime around 11 or so, which is first lunch, second lunch happens about 2 o’clock or so and then an afternoon snack might occur before dinner. Dinner itself is nice around 6 or 6:30 to give us time to digest a little bit before we go to sleep at 8:30 or nine.
It was a 12.5 mile day having these while your days has certainly been an important respite as we have been going pretty hard for a while.
Tomorrow we will resume a few more miles during the day.
Awoke to a magical foggy morning. Over the course of the night and seem like a little mouse was scraping around the side of our tent was fortunately he didn’t try to get in.
We were able to throw some garbage away at the garbage cans next to the road. This is an exciting event for a thru hiker.
We made our way to the Grayson Highlands through cow pastures and mini gates, where they requested that you close the gate behind you.
We didn’t get to see any ponies but we got to see lots of poop on the trail, proof there were ponies. What the gates were containing we don’t know because it was poop at every layer inside and out.
It rained for a good portion of our hike today and we are very glad to have umbrellas. The terrain was quite rocky and it alternated between very rocky open areas and scrub be short trees areas.
We enjoyed our shelter breaks in the first shelter. We took a break at was actually very nice, and had two stories, and it was quite cozy.
We ended up making it to the 500 mile mark and hiking 18.2 miles. We landed at a shelter area that has a large camping area around it. This is great because there are many many people here tented some of them seem to be SOBO Heading to Damascus for trail days.
Trimpi Shelter – campsite before shelter
The morning began with an alarm clock, and then a rainstorm. We took our time, hitting the snooze button, and eventually getting up and having some breakfast in bed to get ourselves going as the rains subsided. We only had our umbrellas out for a very short period of time before our first shelter stop for a break.
The terrain was quite friendly today, and Paul kept track of our pace, which turned out to be 2.5 pretty consistently throughout the day.
We found a rhododendron grove with an open area inside to have a lunch break.
We heard a rumor of rain storms coming in around 6 o’clock, so we decided wisely I think our camp and just rest a little bit anyway.
When we were setting up our camp, we saw a little toad, and he was a reddish color and blended in very nicely with some of the leaves, and the bark of the trees around.
The mosquitoes are beginning to molest us, and we are sorry, but we must kill them when they are on us. We live here too. We’re just not just visiting.
We enjoyed some rain showers overnight and awoke to a clear morning.
Two owls sung close by in the dark hours of the morning. One barred owl, and one a screech owl. Then we heard another barred owl when we were walking in the morning. We saw many small red efts clambering about in the wet leaf litter.
It was an easy trek to the visitor’s center past Partnership Shelter. Skip and his friends provided trail magic of cold drinks and fruit.
We called the Lynx, a free public transit system for Marion VA. They took us to the Red Roof Inn where we enjoyed a shower and washed up a few items.
After a vegetable-heavy lunch at the Mexican restaurant down the street, we headed to the small Walmart and the Ingles to get our resupply completed.
Back at the hotel, our room was such that we could put our mats out on the balcony and sit and enjoy a beer, some broccoli and some ice cream together. This is the life!
Mile 547.4 campsite
We are woke without an alarm at 6 AM per usual. We took our time getting ready at the red roof inn and enjoyed our self made continental breakfast that we procured from Ingles.
We missed the 8:15 shuttle to the trail head but ended up having a really nice morning taking a shuttle downtown and meeting up with some hiker friends at a coffee shop. The 11 o’clock Shuttle got us to the visitor center where we wondered around a little bit and had some lunch before heading back out on the trail.
The trail was quite rocky at the beginning, and it was a lot to deal with on the bottoms of our feet.
Fortunately, for us, the terrain shifted and it wasn’t so rocky and we were able to hike at a good clip to get to the Mexican restaurant by 81 to have some dinner before making our way to campsite past a pasture.
We noticed a baby pigeon under the underpass, they are hobos too.
Virginia seems to say you are on your own now. Previously the trail and the people surrounding it felt very insulating. Also, many people have left the trail to go to Damascus for trail days. We are certainly not alone. Today there are two other tents in the area where we are camped.
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500! This is getting serious, lovin’ the stories, you both look great in pics, wonder how far you’ll get? I’m following you guys and one other thru hiker this year. You’re near each other and both still goin!
Thanks so much for reading and for your support, Smitty!
We are doing our best to stay well and I will say that the mental game is the most challenging part for me so far.
We will keep on doing our best!