Monthly Archives: April 2012

My double zero

April 27-28

0 miles, 468 overall

I have two zero days in Damascus with Christy. Instead of my normal format, I’m going to summarize what we did and use this post to talk about random stuff.

On the first zero we drove to Boone to get to a good outfitter. Mast General Store had everything I needed, including new shoes. My feet have swollen and the shoes I have been using since Springer (Vasque Mindbender trailrunners) are fitting a bit tight. I had to go up a half size to get a proper fit again. I also got some Vibram five fingers. I will use them as camp shoes for now and if I get used to them I may end up trying them out for hiking during the day. I’ve seen several people do this on the trail and they all say the shoes are great except for toe stubs, which are an obvious drawback to minimalist shoes. I looked for a replacement section for my tent pole but couldn’t find an outfitter who had one, so I’ll have MSR ship one ahead to me.

I used the rest of the day to catch up on the blog (typed new entries and also added the place I stayed to each past entry) and eat a lot of food. I had breakfast at the B&B, lunch at a place called Come Back Burger in Boone that was pretty good, first dinner at McDonald’s (I’ve been craving it for a while) and second dinner at a local restaurant.

On the second zero I spent the morning inventorying my gear and food and planning out my next section. I don’t have a maildrop for almost 200 miles so I wanted to make sure I would be able to resupply as well as get into a hostel I’ve wanted to stay at, so I looked up a resupply point and also considered mileages to put me within striking distance of the hostel in time to get there before it is full. We got lunch at Subway and then went out to a parking lot along the trail to do some trail magic. There weren’t many hikers because we got there a bit late, but we did meet 4 thru-hikers. Turns out 3 of them were from Switzerland: Swiss, Boots, and Melody. Swiss was there when we arrived and the others showed up just as we were getting ready to leave because we thought nobody else was coming. We ended up giving Swiss a ride into Damascus. He has hurt his ankle a bit and wants to slackpack the last 20 miles to Damascus. After we dropped him off we hit the grocery store before doing dinner at Quincy’s again (no karaoke this time). I spent the rest of the night organizing everything and cleaning gear that hadn’t been cleaned in a while (e.g. Camelbak).

Now for the random stuff:
The AT, as you have noticed, is a social trail. There is a huge trail community that includes past and present hikers, trail angels, trail maintainers, and the towns the trail passes through. This differentiates it from the PCT and the CDT, the other long distance trails in the US. Although I’m told the PCT has a bit of the same thing going on with people leaving water for hikers in dry areas and offering places to stay, I don’t get the impression that it is at the same level as on the AT. There are also fewer thru-hikers on the PCT every year so you aren’t sharing shelters and campsites as much. On the other trails you get a lot more time to yourself. Stinger told us on the CDT last year he thought there were fewer than 50 hikers attempting to thru-hike. That compares to roughly 2000 on the AT.

With the social aspect comes certain rules regarding behavior. For example, if you stay in a shelter where everyone else is hanging their food, then you hang your food as well. When it gets dark it gets quiet. When you find trail magic and nobody is there, you take one and leave the rest. What is interesting is that the rules aren’t written down anywhere or told to us when we start. They simply arise, deriving from common courtesy to other hikers, and all of the thru-hikers know them. That means that non-thru-hikers may not be familiar with them. Recently we had section hikers take up space in a shelter by pitching their tent inside it. When it happened to me it was at Overmountain Shelter, a giant barn, so space wasn’t an issue. When it happened to others it was at Roan Mountain Shelter, which only holds about 6 people, so space was an issue.

I believe my 32 mile day was the first marathon I have ever done.

I like my maildrop strategy. So far it has worked perfectly. I have only sent them to places where I plan to stay, and that helps deal with the problems people sometimes have in getting them. When I have one scheduled at a post office I’ll have to be more careful. I haven’t had anything missing in the maildrops that I couldn’t find on the trail, but the great thing about the maildrops is that while everyone else is starting to get tired of Ramen every night, I’m eating Cowboy Pasta or Pasta Genovese. A few times there has been too much food in my maildrops and I’ve had to give some away. The dehydrated dinners always get rave reviews. In fact TP thanked Christy for the dinners when he met her.

I’m starting to prefer hiking alone rather than with a group, and campsites versus shelters. The shelters recently haven’t provided much more than a place to sleep. They don’t have privies or bear cables. They often have a spring, but there are often campsites near springs as well. I do like hanging out with other hikers at shelters, but we are getting to the point where hikers tend to arrive late. I like to get to bed early and get up early, so if they arrive late I don’t get that interaction time. In that case I may as well camp somewhere. In the next section I’m not hiking with anyone else. TW has hiked out of Damascus already and UV and Naked Ninja are still behind me, so I’ll try my hand at being a lone hiker. I’ll also try camping alone somewhere along the trail to see if I like it better than shelters.

I got lucky with weather in the Smokies. I had one cold day the last day, but otherwise it was pleasant. I also lucked out that I wasn’t hiking when the snow hit last week. I was safely ensconced in Black Bear Resort. Others weren’t so lucky. Roan Mountain apparently got lots of snow and lots of wind. So although I was able to get away with sending some of my cold weather gear home early, it probably wasn’t such a great idea considering what could have happened. I do still have to go over Mount Rogers in Virginia, but the weather report is looking good for that.

A number of hikers have had the same knee problem that I had – Chondromalacia patella. Zorra is a physical therapist and mentioned she had talked to a lot of hikers who had it. Too many people trying to do too many miles too soon. Luckily I learned my lesson before getting on the trail. Others are having to learn as they go. I’ve recommended a patellar support strap to several of them and it seems to help a lot in most cases.

Honey buns and instant mashed potatoes are two big food items this year. Instant mashed potatoes are great because they are light, full of calories, and can be added to just about anything. I’ve taken to carrying some in my food bag to add to my dinners either if I’m extra hungry or if I have extra water in my pot that my dinner didn’t soak up. They also make cleaning the pot easier as they tend to keep the cheese in the dinners from sticking to the pot. Honey buns on the other hand are the snack of choice. The Swiss found them recently and mentioned how it was great to find something bread-like, coming from a culture where bread is a central part of every meal. As hikers we simply can’t carry a lot of bread, so honey buns provide a less crusty substitute. They also have the highest calorie-to-weight ratio I’ve been able to find yet (except perhaps olive oil, but nobody is drinking olive oil straight). Since they’re also usually under a dollar, they are the best price-to-calorie-to-weight ratio around.

I’ve talked to several hikers about how the calorie-to-weight ratio should be added to hiker foods like energy bars. We don’t care if something has 400 calories if it weighs a pound, but if it is only 4 ounces, now we’re talking. That would also make it easier to compute the price-to-calorie-to-weight ratio in our heads, letting us find the most cost efficient, high calorie foods. Food companies, take note.

I’m going to be trying out the Vibram Five Fingers as camp shoes but I am excited about them as possible hiking shoes too. I’ve heard good things from people who wear them. One of the things that minimalist shoes are supposed to do is teach you to walk with less heel strike and more on your toes. People who study walking and running say that those who run a lot tend to run more on the balls of their feet and have less heel strike. I’ve actually noticed myself doing more of that out here. Especially on downhills I tend to do what I call the “old man marathoner,” where I look like I’m running but my speed is actually not any faster than walking. I think the Five Fingers could be quite comfy since I’ve already altered my gait somewhat.

From here on the trail changes a bit. The towns are much less frequent and usually smaller. There are also fewer really well-known hostels. This might play in my favor, allowing me to get into the hostels I want to stay at even after long mileage days. The trail will also be less up-and-down and will follow the contours of the land more. I’m looking forward to that, but wonder if by the time I reach the north I may have lost some of the muscle strength I’ve built up for climbing the hills.

Time for food. Tomorrow Christy will drop me off back at the Appalachian Trail!


Categories: VA | 10 Comments

The trail town inferiority

April 26

11.3 miles, 468 overall (B&B outside Damascus)
The rain seems to have held off overnight. When I wake up I don’t hear the characteristic drops falling off of trees onto my tent. However I know from the weather forecast that this may not last long. I consider waiting in my tent until the afternoon to hike into Damascus. I know Christy won’t be arriving until later anyway. But I would still have to get out of the tent to get my food bag, and I don’t know how I would pass 4-6 hours in my tent. I force myself to get up and get moving, although I wait until 7:30 to do it.

When I do finally get out of my tent I find that the tent is mostly dry. A simple wipe with my pack towel gets rid of the last bits of moisture and I’m able to pack it away mostly dry. As I’m packing up people are leaving the shelter, anxious for a town day. Even Secrets and Shenanigans, who have been behind me ever since Black Bear Resort, got up at 4:30 to start hiking to Damascus and pass us as I’m eating breakfast. Nokey (so named because he has no keys – he sold his house and car before coming to the trail) is considering running the 10 miles to Damascus. I have seen the weather radar and am resigned to the fact that I am going to get wet no matter how fast I hike. I again consider staying in the shelter for a few hours until the worst has passed, but can’t bring myself to do it.

Around 8:30 I finally get moving. It is cloudy and the rain is imminent. I can feel the storm moving in as the wind picks up. When I finally start to hear thunder and see the lightning I get a little worried. The wind is incredibly strong and I know this is a fast-moving storm. I look for a place to hunker down while the violent initial bands of the storm pass. The trail skirts a ridge and seems to provide some good shelter from the wind so I put my pack and poles down and walk back 30 yards with my snacks and water to wait. Several hikers pass me while I’m waiting and wonder what I’m doing. Typically we keep hiking through rain. I simply have a bad feeling about this storm and want to wait for it to pass.

Twenty minutes later the rain continues but the lightning strikes are mostly gone. I put my pack back on and continue. I know the TN/VA border is close so I keep my head up to make sure I don’t miss it. The wind and rain have kicked up a notch and I curse Tennessee a bit for the less-than-pleasant send-off while I contemplate the video I could make at the border showing off the trail conditions. When I finally reach the border I realize my heightened awareness was unnecessary – the border is incredibly well marked, from the signs marking the crossing from one national forest to another to the rocks that hikers have laid across the trail to denote the border. Incredibly as I arrive the wind and rain suddenly stop and the sun begins to poke through the clouds, as if Virginia is welcoming me home. I won’t be rained on for the rest of the day. I had been hoping to find others at the sign so I could have them take a picture, but nobody has lingered here and I don’t want to wait to see if someone is close behind me. I snap a couple pictures, thankful for the front camera on my phone that lets me see the photo I’m about to take, and move on.

A few miles more and I get my first glimpse of Damascus. The first sighting of town is always fun. For one thing, most of us have never been to the towns we are entering so we don’t know what to expect. Once we lay eyes on it we can begin to size it up. How big is it? Are the houses older or newer? Is it spread out or is everything close together? It also gives a tangible feel to the town that until now has simply been a goal. Before we see it the town is simply a milestone on the way to Maine. Now that we can see it, everything that comes with it becomes more real as well including showers, food, and laundry. It always puts a little bounce in our step, and the last few miles into town often pass quickly.

The trail into town seems inviting at first, with an archway and a stroll through a park. However I quickly realize that this isn’t Hot Springs. The first indication is the trail markings. Instead of AT symbols permanently ensconced in the sidewalk as in Hot Springs, Damascus has simply put white blazes on the power line poles. Second, as I walk through town nobody waves or says hi as they did in Hot Springs. The town completely lacks a welcoming feel. Perhaps Damascus is just too acclimated to having hikers come through. It is after all the site of Trail Days, a weekend-long hiker festival that takes place every May that hikers from all parts of the trail catch rides to and hikers from previous years return for. One hiker passing through on his way to Maine is probably not very impressive when compared to Trail Days.

I make my way through town, noting the locations of the places to eat, the outfitter, and some of the lodgings I had heard about. It is 12:30 and Christy won’t be in town until closer to 4:00, so I want to take care of the trail through the town. I hike to the other side and stop when the trail enters the woods again. On my way I text TW to find out what is going on for lunch. She answers immediately that lunch would be good, so after covering the miles I return to find her at one of the lodgings in town. Her husband is here already. Apparently she made it a few more miles last night and then decided to camp. TP caught up to her and camped too, and they both made the last few miles to Damascus this morning. TW has already eaten breakfast (twice) but is ready for lunch so we head to Cowboy’s to get some greasy diner food. I get a cheeseburger with potato wedges, cheese sticks and a soda. When TW’s husband can’t finish his fried chicken and potato wedges I eat his as well.

After lunch we make a trip to the outfitter. I don’t really need anything except a new tent pole. I call MSR and they inform me they can send a replacement pole section to any place on the trail. I don’t have the data book with me so I will have to call them back with the address where I want it sent. After the outfitter I simply waste time until Christy arrives. The owner of the place TW is staying allows me to change into dry clothes in the bunkroom out back.

When Christy gets in we go check in at the B&B. It’s wonderful to see her again. The B&B is about 15 minutes out of Damascus. I get a shower and change into regular clothes that Christy brought with her. It is the first time in non-hiking clothes in over a month. We return to Damascus for dinner and meet up with Nokey, Snagglefoot, and others at Quincey’s. It is karaoke night. With hikers who have just gotten to town and are drinking beers it turns out not to be good karaoke. We laugh at several of them who are particularly interesting. One keeps signing up but can’t even read the words off of the screen. Another sits on stage to sing because he can’t stand.

It gets late and though the party will continue, I need my sleep. We return to the B&B and get to bed early. Although I’m not hiking tomorrow, I still have lots of stuff to get caught up on in my trip along the Appalachian Trail.

Categories: TN, VA | 4 Comments

The cowpatty conglomeration

April 25

18.9 miles, 456.7 overall (Abingdon Gap shelter)
The morning is wet. It isn’t raining hard, but it has rained through the night and there seems to be an ongoing light sprinkle. I have to force myself to get up and start packing. I don’t relish the idea of packing a wet tent. By the time I get out of my tent I am almost the last to get up. Miles, having very little to pack, is almost ready to go. TP is up and out of his tent already, most likely due to sleeping in a tent with Miles rather than some sort of abnormal motivation on his part. TW is of course up and moving. It seems like Biscuits is taking his time this morning. I grab my food and start on breakfast before taking the tent down.

Once I leave the only person left is Biscuits and he isn’t far behind me. We leapfrog a bit for the morning until we reach a spring a few miles in. The campsite last night didn’t have the best water source so I have planned to fill up here. I am glad I did as it is a much nicer spring. TP is just finishing with his fill-up when I arrive and Biscuits also stops for water. We all meet again in a quarter mile when we reach the next shelter, where Long Skirt is packing up her stuff to get moving. I already snacked when I got water so I simply sign the register and move on.

We pass the Nick Grindstaff monument, dedicated to a famous hermit from the area. We appreciate the irony. The monument itself looks more like a grave than a monument and we wonder if he is buried here.

The rest of the trail is actually rather boring. In the absence of big climbs, big descents, and no views due to the morning fog we are all left with our thoughts for the morning. When I’m left to my thoughts I tend to have weird ones. One day, for now apparent reason, I started thinking about the movie The Rock. For an hour I walked along the trail reciting the line, “I’d take pleasure in guttin’ you boy” to myself over and over. I did take care not to say it out loud when passing other hikers. Today I don’t have any thoughts that are as memorable.

Just before a road crossing Biscuits and I are hiking together and we come across a large metal box. Trail magic! The local church has installed this metal box on the trail and stocks it, it appears daily, with snacks and sodas. By the time Biscuits and I arrive there is only one snack cake left so we split it. We keep a piece for TP knowing he isn’t far behind, but aren’t able to keep it out of our mouths until he arrives. When he does arrive we tell him there were no snacks left rather than explaining that he took too long to get there. The church also left a register for us to sign and a disposable camera to take pictures with so we all strike poses with our sodas to spice up their album.

We leave the trail magic, but less than a quarter mile away is the road crossing where we come across more trail magic! Sipsey is a hiker who is a few days ahead of us and has already reached Damascus. He and his wife and grandson are out today with snacks, sodas, and the like for other hikers. This is fortuitous since the snacks had run out in the church’s box, so TP is able to get snacks and Biscuits and I are able to get more snacks. I check with Sipsey whether TW stopped here and she did. I won’t get to rub this one in either.

Stocked up on snacks and not needing lunch for the day, I leave the road crossing and walk the trail as it winds through some fields. It actually crosses a fence and takes us through a cow pasture where we have to dodge cow patties that pepper the trail. This doesn’t last long though, and soon we are back in the woods hiking up a ridge to the next shelter. This shelter isn’t much to see, but we stop for some food and to sign the register. Biscuits is trying to offload some of his food. He did a full resupply at Kincora, but with the trail magic by the pond yesterday and Sipsey’s trail magic today he hasn’t had to eat any of his lunches. He offers us pepperoni and swiss and I accept. I’ve been thinking about adding some pepperoni to my food supply and this lets me test it out. I decide I like it and plan to grab some in Damascus.

At this point we have done about 11 miles, but we still have 8 left. The trail magics slowed us down and I want to make sure I get into camp early enough to take my time setting up my tent and eating dinner. I don’t like being rushed in the evening and I am behind on blog entries so I could use a little extra time. Luckily today the terrain is easy so I can do a 3 mph pace pretty easily. The miles go quickly with nothing special to see. I am enjoying this new trail that follows the contours of the land rather than feeling the need to take us up and over every mountain. I do see how it can get boring though, and wonder whether this is part of the reason hikers get the “Virginia blues.”

Once I reach the shelter I am the only one there. TW and Miles have obviously pushed on. When I check the shelter register TW I see that TW signed in at 3:45 saying she was pushing on toward Damascus. I assume that means she is going to try to make it to town tonight. It is 5:00 and I have no desire to move on. I consider hiking another mile or so before setting up my tent but determine that it would be pointless. I would still be camping tonight, and with reservations with Christy at a B&B I don’t need to get into town early. I hike down the hill to get some water and then find a good spot and set up my tent. TP arrives with me and also needs water. He hasn’t been drinking enough and feels the beginnings of heat exhaustion. Still, after taking a long break and rehydrating he decides to move on and tent somewhere along the trail tonight.

By bedtime several other hikers have joined me. Biscuits stopped here, as well as Dog Whisperer (so named because he was bit by a dog), Snagglefoot and Nokey. We wind up with a full shelter and a few tents nearby. A downpour around 8:30 pushes everyone into bed early. We all plan to enter Damascus tomorrow on our way up the Appalachian Trail.

Categories: TN | 4 Comments

The ultralight undoing

April 24

21.5 miles, 437.8 overall (Campsite past Vandeventer shelter)
TW and I are both early risers. I am up minutes before her but we are both ready and hike out together around 8:45. The first few miles she takes it slow to test her hamstring so we hike together. The trail is incredibly neat as it passes between huge rock formations and follows Laurel Branch. It crosses the river a few times on large footbridges before we eventually climb away from the river. However we don’t stray for long as the trail descends to reveal Laurel Falls, perhaps the most impressive waterfall yet on the AT.

A few miles in the trail turns away from Hampton and I am lucky we are hiking together because I nearly take the side trail to town. We stop for a snack and I test the cell service. When I find a good signal I pause to upload pictures and blog entries. TW takes advantage of my break just before a big climb to get a head start on me. I end up giving her a 30 minute head start, practically guaranteeing that I won’t catch her until much later.

This climb stands out for 2 reasons. First, it is a huge climb up the mountain followed immediately by a huge descent down the mountain on the other side. This is what hikers like to call a PUD, a pointless up-down. The south is full of them, where the trail seems to want to take us to every measly summit for no apparent reason. The second reason it stands out is because it is the first of 2 climbs today, after which the trail will be almost flat to Damascus. It seems that the heavenly trails of Virginia actually start just south of the border.

The climb up is long, taking a little over 2 trail miles. The descent is just as long. At no point is it revealed to us why the mountain is called Pond Mountain. There was no pond at either the top or the bottom, although at the end of the descent the trail does meet Watauga Lake. On the way down I run into Granbob who is slack packing today back to Black Bear. His knee has been giving him trouble so he wants to try it out with less gear. He informs me that there is trail magic being set up at the bottom. I wonder if Trophy Wife will miss it again.

At the bottom there is a road crossing followed by a recreational area on the lake that is an ideal place for some trail magic. Castor thru-hiked in 2010 and this is his first time back to the trail. He has brought 2 friends to help him administer his magic: donuts, cookies, chicken and meat grilled with BBQ sauce, ham, and other goodies. TW is still there when I arrive although she quickly moves on. Brett (who now goes by Biscuits) is also there and has been eating for almost an hour. I partake in a couple donuts, some meat, and a bit of ham but I don’t want to stay too long. I move on with Biscuits and we hike the next few miles together as they wind around the lake.

At the end of the lake I cross Watauga Dam, but it is hardly impressive after Fontana. In fact this dam is more just a pile of rubble than an actual dam. As I am walking along the road to the dam I see TW crossing it. She looks like she is having some difficulty and it isn’t until I start to cross that I realize what it is. There is some bad weather moving in and the wind has picked up. Once I leave the shelter of the trees and the mountainside I am buffeted from the side as I walk across the dam. On the other side TW has stopped to put her pack cover on, but I continue on hoping the weather will pass us by.

The second big climb of the day comes on the other side of the dam. As I start up I can see the rain clouds to the west and feel the wind pushing them in my direction. I keep an eye on them but halfway up the mountain I come to a west-facing overlook and when I stop to take in the view all I can see is the oncoming haze of rain. I duck back behind the ridge and throw on my jacket and pack cover. Just as I finish I begin to feel the rain as the wind blows it in horizontally. I start hiking but the downpour never starts and my rain jacket is hot. I’m forced to take it off again and as I do TW catches me. We hike together as the rain passes through, never getting strong enough to make me want my jacket again. When we reach a spring we stop for water since the next shelter is lacking.

Miles catches us at the spring. He is one of the hikers that stayed at Black Bear with us. He is what is called an ultralighter, someone who has an incredibly light backpack. In fact Miles’ base weight (weight without food and water) is somewhere around 8 pounds and his total pack weight (with food and water) is about 13 pounds. He accomplishes this in part by buying lightweight gear, partly by carrying fewer things than other people, and finally by eating hardly anything. His food bag has only Nature’s Valley granola bars, pop tarts, Snickers bars, and Jolly Ranchers. Miles is the antithesis of Animal, the hiker who bought a month’s worth of food at a time, but is yet another example of hiking your own hike.

Miles moves on and gets to the next shelter before we do. When we arrive he tries to convince us to stay there for the night. However we (myself, TW, and Biscuits) have our eyes set on a campsite almost 4 miles further. We convince Miles to pack up all his gear and follow us.

Now, apparently somewhere in convincing Miles to follow us TW said Miles could sleep in her tent. One of the ways Miles is saving weight is by sleeping in shelters and thus not carrying a tent. When we get to the campsite TW realizes Miles wasn’t kidding about sharing the tent. However we all have 1-person tents which would make sharing quite cozy. With rain on the way though Miles needs a place to sleep. Just when we have decided that Miles will share Biscuits’ tent TP arrives. TP had gotten to Kincora yesterday in the snow, stayed the night there, and has caught up to us today. He has a 1.5 person tent (we joke about what the 0.5 person could mean) and Miles ends up sleeping there. It all works out in the end, with TP and Miles both saying in the morning that they got a great night’s sleep.

Tomorrow we plan another long day but it will be over very easy terrain, setting up a short day into Damascus the day after. Then we all plan on taking zeroes on the Appalachian Trail.

Categories: TN | 5 Comments

My unplanned zero

April 23

0 miles, 416.3 overall (Black Bear Resort, Hampton)
When I wake up it is warm, but I am in a cabin with a heater. When I venture outside it is very cold. By the time I venture over to the lounge it is snowing. I am afraid we might zero today. I don’t especially like the idea. For one thing, it throws off our plans. For another, it means spending more money. I head to the lounge where I can pick up the wifi signal and get a weather report. It is supposed to clear up some in the afternoon and only be windy. I mention this to the other hikers, suggesting that we could nero out after it warms up. They have already made up their minds. TW also seems like her mind is made up, which surprises me considering she is typically one who likes to get more miles in. Her hamstring must really be worrying her.

I prepare for a zero, still holding out hope we could leave this afternoon. I eat my 2 Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwiches and watch Hancock with the other hikers. At 11:30 there is supposed to be a shuttle into town for lunch and resupply so, partly out of need for food and partly out of boredom, I sign up to be on it. We leave at 11:30 with 7 hikers and a dog.

First stop is an animal shelter. The hostel owners have been taking care of a stray dog but need to get rid of it. They have found a no-kill shelter and all of the hikers are glad because the dog, other than constantly peeing on things, really seems to be well-behaved. Second stop is the Chinese AYCE buffet where I get 2 full plates of food as well as dessert and ice cream. Finally we hit Walmart for resupply. I haven’t been in a Walmart for several years and am not excited to be back, but I’m able to find what I need and get out quickly, including dinner and breakfast to save some money rather than buying them in the camp store.

This should be all the stops for a typical shuttle. However today we have a hiker who has requested a few more. First he has us stop at a Subway so he can get dinner. Second is the post office to mail some postcards. Finally he needs to go to the clinic. Apparently he is convinced that he has contracted some sort of parasite. He suggests we leave him there but it is a 5 mile walk uphill back to the hostel and the driver isn’t willing to leave him. Instead we have to wait. For almost 30 minutes we wait in the van while he is in the clinic. We pass the time by making jokes about him. We think of trail names for the parasite and consider walking to Dollar General to get him a congratulations banner for when he gets it taken care of. By the time he returns with a prescription we have named his parasite Subway because we figure one of the two foot-long subs he got must be for the parasite.

Since he has a prescription now we need to go to the pharmacy. Luckily it is only across the street, but we find out that the pharmacy no longer carries whatever it is that he has been prescribed. Back to the clinic. After a minute he returns and mentions that a pharmacy in the next town has the prescription. Not going to happen. Back into the clinic. When he returns he says the doctor told him a shot or two of Jack Daniels might work too.

The shuttle ends up taking most of the afternoon, so even if we had thoughts of returning to the trail today it is probably too late to make it any meaningful distance. TW has also decided that her hamstring needs the rest and I can’t disagree. We spend the evening packing up our resupply and then eating dinner in the lounge with other hikers while first “watching” Young Guns (the movie plays but nobody is actually watching) and then actually watching Eurotrip. I leave early to head to bed, no longer able to stay up much past 8:00.

Tomorrow we will see how things go. If TW’s hamstring feels better we can do big miles to set ourselves up for an easy 2 days to Damascus. If not we will have to do 3 medium days instead. Either way we will be there on the third day to meet our spouses and take some time off from the Appalachian Trail.

Categories: TN | 4 Comments

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