So before I begin the post I must apologize for our lack of blogging recently! It is very difficult for us to get to a computer sometimes. Frequently we enter town or a hostel that may only have one computer, usually slow and out of date, for about 30 hikers to use over the course of a day or a few hours, or we arrive in town on a day where the library is already closed! We hopefully will be able to blog a bit more in the coming weeks, but we never know!
Anyways, I'm not quite sure where we all left off, but as usual, every day out here is an adventure. I am writing from an excellent cafe in Damascus, VA - STATE NUMBER FOUR! 465 miles into the trail!
I had been having some trouble with my shin since before Erwin, and after a zero day at Kincora Hiking Hostel in Hampton, TN with lots of icing and rest, it magically healed itself! We left the hostel and hiked 17 miles to a shelter and then cranked out a 31-mile day to a campsite 1.7 miles out of Damascus!! By FAR our longest day yet. I definitely felt like such a beast rolling into camp after hiking so far. It's still amazing how your body can adjust to something like this, your pack feeling like a part of you, the miles flying by. We have really started to hit our stride , I like to think. I also arrived in town to a package from my wonderful mother that included my Kindle and a new iPod nano!!! With some music in my ears I'll be ready to fly!
So some other fun stuff- After leaving Erwin we got to finish hiking on the NC/TN border and stayed in TN until we reached VA the other day. Part of this included hiking over Roan Mt, our last peak over 6,000 ft until we reach Mt Washington in NH! After Roan Mt we reached some of the most beautiful stretches of the trail we have seen thus far - rolling balds up in the highlands where the grass grows at 5,000 feet and the trail carves its way through these lawns and meadows with views in every direction.
Off-trail has been just as excellent. Staying at Mountain Harbour B&B/Hostel in Roan Mt, TN we met Chili and Pepper, a 12 year old and his father, respectively, who thru hiked last year and are back out to repeat the first 500 miles of the trail to trail for the Pacific Crest Trail (Mexico-California-Oregon-Washington-Canada) which they plan to start next April. Very cool to talk to them and hike with them for a few days. We also had the most incredible breakfast there with EVERYTHING you can imagine on a breakfast spread. We are still hiking with Who Knows and Lady Pants and we continue to have plenty of silly adventures with them on and off the trail, pictures and videos to follow and elaborate on this! Damascus is a great little town and is supposed to be the hiker-friendliest town on the trail. So much good food here! We finally got salads made with greens and not iceberg lettuce! We have also learned to stay at the cheapest, shadiest places possible so that our meager budgets can be wisely spent on massive amounts of delicious food! Yesterday was our trail friend Bravo's birthday so we spent the night at a local bar/pizza place with a live country/bluegrass band and had quite the time! May be part of the late start back to the trail today! Although it's always hard to leave town at a reasonable time as there is always so much to be done!
Since the beginning of our trek (6 weeks ago Tuesday!!!), we have been INCREDIBLY lucky with weather. We get rain once in a while and it usually happens to be at night or early in the day. Otherwise, we get nice cool, misty days which are great for hiking or super sunny days.
So the days can be long (especially 31 miles over 12.5 hours) and the nights can be cold, sometimes things are really wet, but to wake up to the birds chirping every day, to watch sunsets 4 out of 7 nights a week, to experience small southern trail towns and to spend every day hiking together and with our new friends, this trip is unbeatable. Sometimes I get bored hiking mile after mile (but now I have an iPod!) and the climbs can be discouraging, but there is so much to this adventure that is just so unique, that makes me feel so lucky, so free, and so alive. Every day I have a moment where I realize that I am living a dream of mine and that I am just getting warmed up. 1,700 miles to go!
Peace, Love, and Happy Trails to All!