May 17, 2012

Good day in Damascus. The Baptist Church had a seamstress on hand doing clothing alterations. She took an inch off of each side of my pants so I can continue to wear them. Everyone here is extremely welcoming to the thousands of hikers that have descended on the area. Tomorrow, the festivities begin with presentations, parades, and vendors. Should be fun.

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May 16, 2012

Damascus, Virginia for a few days of rest and Trail Days. Staying at The Place which is a hostel run on a donation basis by the Methodist Church. The Baptist Church

has free showers everyday and free hiker feeds each night. Damascus is a cute town. They are frantically preparing for the festivities this weekend. Left the shelter this morning at 7:30 am and was in Damascus at noon – 10 miles by noon. I’m impressed with myself. Should be a fun weekend.

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May 15, 2012

At Abingdon Gap shelter after an 11 mile hike. Tons of people here waiting to go into Damascus. Will be there tomorrow after a 9ish mile hike. It’s an interesting phenomena, the way you meet people on the trail and you instantly bond. We come in and out of each other’s lives, some we hike with for days, and some we see just at shelters. You share hotel rooms and cabins with people you meet, and then may not see the person again. Everyone shares information and community, looking out for each other. Looking forward to Trail Days and moving forward.

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May 14, 2012

Short day today. When I woke up, it was raining cats and dogs, like it had been all night. Chicken Feather, Castaway, Poco, Pandora and myself decided to hike the 5 miles to Shady Valley, TN and go to a little c,ampground that has cabins. We shared the cost of a couple cabins and have stayed here drying oiut. It’s rained pretty hard all day, and this evening there was quite the lightening show. I’ll be getting to Damascus on Wednesday now, which works out better for me. We grilled out hotdogs and ate on napkins, just like civilized people!

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May 13, 2012

Hiked to Iron Mountain Shelter, 7 miles. Steady rain all morning and it opened up this afternoon. Very cold and rainy right now, gonna curl up in sleeping bag in a bit and get warm. Tomorrow is a new day.

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May 12, 2012

Hiked to Vandeventer Shelter today. Expecting rain tonight and 90% chance of rain tomorrow. Good thing I’m in no rush to Damascus at this point. There’s four guys here who are hilariously funny. Who needs TV? It was ladies night at Kincora shelter last night, just four of us in the hostel. It was relaxing. Hiked with Pandora most of the day today, just a relaxing day on the trail. There’s been a virus going around that’s been affecting hikers. It seems to have originated in Erwin, TN. 48 hours of vomiting and diarrhea. The health department has been interviewing hikers and handing out stool sample kits at the hostels. I’ve been lucky and haven’t gotten it. I seem to have stayed ahead of it. Hope my luck holds up.

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May 11, 2012

Slack packed over Pond Mountain today. Beautiful hike and Laurel Falls was amazing. The falls were beautiful, but I’m glad we slackpacked it. I can’t imagine doing the rock hopping down to the falls with a full pack on. Heading out tomorrow, three nights and then I’ll be in Damascus. Still haven’t decided what I want to do about Trail Days.

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May 10, 2012

Hiked 11 miles to Kincora Hostel today. It was chilly but there was no rain. Had an enjoyable evening chatting, went into town for a food run and had Arby’s. Picked up a maildrop I had here so now my food bag is heavy again. Bob People’s, the owner of the hostel offers his place and services on a donation only basis. He has an amazing knowledge of the trail and has great stories. He also works on trail maintenance. We talked a little about Trail Days in Damascus. I’ve been struggling with whether to stay for the event, stay for part, or to hike through. I still haven’t decided. Bob says that on Sunday and Monday he takes the first 100 people who sign up for Hardcore. Hardcore is two days of trail maintenance work. You work on the trail, they provide meals and transportation, and guarantee to return you to wherever you left the trail at. It’s a way to give back to the trail community. So many choices!  I weighed myself this morning, and according to the scale I’ve lost almost 50 lbs. I find that hard to believe, but everyone else who used the scale says it’s accurate. I’ll weigh myself again in a few days and see if it’s confirmed. I do know that my clothes are very baggy. Anyhow, off to bed. Going to slack pack over Pond Mountain tomorrow and back to the hostel.

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May 9, 2012

Woke up and started hiking by 7:45 am. It started pouring rain around 9 and the temperature started to drop. Hiked about 5 miles to the side trail to Vango Abbey Memorial Hostel and decided to wait out the rain. This hostel is owned by Scotty, a former thru-hiker. It’s cheap and simply laid out,but it was a warm and dry night after days of rain. Tomorrow, I’ll hike the 11 miles to Kincora hostel where I have a food drop.

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May 8, 2012

As I noted in my last post, I spent last night at Mountain Harbor Hostel. Last night at midnight, it started to rain, and rained straight through until this morning. During the night, two of the horses from the hostel got into the area where the tenters were and began grazing. At 2 am, one of the horses who was grazing near my tent, pulled my tent stake out, and down came my tent. When I got out of my tent to set it back up, the horse just looked at me, and kept on eating. At 4 am, two cats were engaged in a love fest for about half an hour. When I got up at 7, the hostel owner had prepared a delicious breakfast for everyone. I left the hostel at 12:30 pm and hiked 9 miles to Mountaineer Shelter. It rained most of the day and the trail was a skating rink with mud. The shelter is near Mountaineer Falls which look like this:

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A good day, but I hope the weather clears soon, it’s been raining a lot. When I hiked by the Elk River today, it was very swollen and running fast.

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