My experience on the Appalachian Trail this year has infected me with the hiking bug. I want to continue to hike on a regular basis and to stay up to speed on what’s going on in the hiking community. Since I’m no longer “hiking for the homeless,” I thought it might be appropriate to change the name and address of this blog. Today, I will be changing the address of this blog to http://www.longdistancetrailhiking.wordpress.com and I will be exporting everything from this blog to the new address, so please remember to bookmark the new page. I will continue to post interesting articles that I find, as well as keep the blog updated with any adventures I might be engaging in. Thanks to everyone for their patronage and support of this blog, and I’ll see you down the trail.
You may have noticed that I haven’t posted in over a week. Unfortunately, I am off the trail at this time. I began feeling weak and fatigued shortly after leaving Damascus. I reached Atkins, VA and decided to contact a friend in Virginia and see if she could pick me up. I thought I might need a rest for a few days. A few days after leaving the trail I developed a severely swollen lymph node behind my right ear, and the fatigue and body aches got worse. The upshot is that I am being treated for Lyme Disease at this time. My hike is over for this year while I rest and recover. My hope is that we caught this early and that it will not have long term implications. I appreciate everyone’s support, both for myself and for Flagstaff Shelter Services. This has been an amazing experience and one I want to continue. My intention, at this time, is to continue to hike the Appalachian Trail in years to come, and to eventually complete it. I wish everyone the best.
What an amazing day of trail magic! The three of us woke this morning grumpy, complaining that we didn’t sleep all night. We had agreed that we would hit the road by 7:30 am so we could hopefully have an easier hitch back the trailhead. Brownie needed to get to the town of Marion so she could get a maildrop, so the plan was to hike 14 miles to Partnership Shelter and hitch into Marion the next morning. At 7:35 am, we got picked up by a woman who worked at the Walmart in Marion and she drove us in. We were able to get all our errands done, including doing laundry at the laundromat by noon. Then I ran into Hardees to pick up breakfast sandwiches for everyone and ran into a few hikers who introduced me to a guy who was doing shuttle runs back to the trailhead! We got a ride back and were on the trail by 1 pm. We hiked 4 miles to Trimpi shelter, where I was able to practice setting up my hammock. I’m sleeping in it for the first time tonight, and am laying in it writing this blog. There is a hiker feed tomorrow from 10 to 4 at a road crossing two miles from where we are, so we’ll be hitting that in the morning. The sun shone all day today, which definitely improved my mood. Too many days of rain and clouds depresses me. All in all, a great day!
Hiked 11 miles today and am in Troutdale at the hostel provided by the Baptist Church. My original intention was to go to Trimpi Shelter, which is 15 miles away, but it started to rain again this afternoon. Pandora, Brownie Brittle and myself are the only ones here. Showered and did some laundry in the shower. Shower laundry is a new trick I’ve learned as a way to keep clothes reasonable in between laundromats. Basically, you take all your clothes off and put them on the floor of the shower. While you’re showering, you stomp on the clothes, pushing all the dirt out. You do this until no more dirt comes out. Then you wring the clothes out and hang them on the line. We’re currently sitting on the porch, watching the storm clouds pass over, having a nice relaxing evening. There’s no grocery or restaurant in this town, so we ate what’s in our food bags. We were laughing because the porch has several places to sit on it, and we were all sitting on the ground. Women gone feral, we’ve forgotten how to use chairs.
Hiked 11 miles to Old Orchard shelter. Rained all day. Very tired and tired of the rain. Crossed the 500 mile mark today.
Hiked to Thomas Knob shelter, just past the top of Mount Rogers. Mount Rogers is the highest point in Virginia and the last 5000 foot mountain until New Hampshire. Climbed two mountains today, Whitetop and Mount Rogers. The last four miles of the hike were in a thunderstorm, but got here safely. Excited about tomorrow and Grayson Highlands. Should be able to play with the wild ponies. Hope to get some pictures.
Hiked 15.8 miles to Lost Mountain Shelter. It was good to get back on the trail. I mailed my winter stuff home, hopefully I won’t need it until New Hampshire. Hiked a section of the Virginia Creeper trail. It was beautiful. The Virginia Creeper trail is a 37 mile bike trail that follows Laurel Creek. I was wishing I had a fishing pole, there were great trout holes there.
It’s Sunday and I’m still in Damascus. Need to wait until tomorrow for the post office to open. I spent the day reflecting on the changes I’ve been noticing in myself since the hike began. One of the primary shifts is this sense of living totally in the moment. I typically only plan for today, and have a vague sense of what I’ll do tomorrow. When I think about the future or what I’ll do when I return to Flagstaff, it’s just blank space. Living like this is changing me. I find myself less self-conscious about things. History and past fades away, and what is important is who I am today. There is some fear as well. I feel like these shifts and realizations are irreversible. If I stay out here and continue to chip away who I’m not, what will be left? Who will I be when I leave this place. I feel like I’m at a jumping off place. Leave the trail and return to the old me I’m comfortable with, or keep walking and step out in faith and trust. Tomorrow, I’ll get up and walk…and see what happens.
Great day in Damascus. Went to Jennifer Pharr-Davis presentation this morning. She was quite inspirational. Then went to see movie that hiker named Lion King did on the Appalachian Trail. Watched the hiker parade and sang in the hiker talent show. Will get video from Miss Janet. Went to Backpacker magazine gear giveaway, but didn’t win anything. Then went Lion King’s movie on the American Discovery trail and won a Hennesey Hammock in the drawing. The one I won is a little small for me, so going to their booth tomorrow where I can trade it for one the appropriate size. It was a good day and I’m glad I stayed. I really got a sense of being part of a larger community of hikers, and of the sense of camaraderie and care that exists within that community. When I complete this hike I will be joining a unique fellowship.
Today is my two month anniversary of being on the trail. I’ve been hiking since March 18. Trail Days was fun today, got my trekking poles cleaned and lubed by Black Diamond, saw what the various vendors had for sale, walked around and enjoyed the vibe, and caught up with hikers I had met who I haven’t seen in a while. The Baptist church had a free medical clinic today. My blood pressure and pulse were excellent. Lots of swag from the vendors. Tomorrow is the hiker parade and several gear giveaways, but I’m seriously thinking of hitting the trail again. Three days feels like a long time to be in town. We’ll see what tomorrow brings. Went to concert at Baptist church this evening, they had a great dessert bar, lol.