Thursday, July 24, 2008

Big Daddy, Ipod and the Path Pissers

This story comes to you from June. It's been about a month since I first met Big Daddy and Ipod, but they are two people that are worth mentioning.

BIg Daddy and Ipod are insurance salesmen from North Carolina. I think it was last year when they decided to do the whole trail together but alas, old men's knees don't work as well as they used to. Big Daddy's knees were going out of style around Hot Springs and they decided to section hike the trail instead. This time out they were doing the Damascus > Pearisburg section which is a cool 160 miles. I met them after a few days at the Partnership shelter. It is on the edge of the Mt Rogers National Recreation Area and I believe it is the only shower with a shower. Anyways, right off the bat, they start unloading their food bags on me. That night it was just some drink mix. I liked the Peach Tea Sarah, but they had FRUIT PUNCH!!!!

By late June, just starting Virginia is late and the other hikers trickle on through so finding good hiking buddies is not as easy and hiking all day and not seeing 5 people is pretty lonely. Although solitude is good, it's nice to share the day's experiences and talk with someone at the end of the day. Over the next week or so, we all hang together and I soon find out that Big Daddy sure can build a fire. The Knot Maul Shelter which I think is marked somewhere on the google map almost burned down because of him. All the wood was wet but sure enough he had some tricks up his sleeve and the fire was raging. You had to sit near about ten feet away so you wouldn't burn your leg hairs off. The rain that had hit us was of no consequence at this point because the inferno dried everything out.

Ipod on the other hand didn't have to say or do anything and he was instantly cool. I didn't know why but after talking a bit, I found out why he emitted cool. He is an NCSU alumni. Ipod got the name because he could sing just about any tune that you asked him to. His selection though was limited almost to the 60's through 80's. On a bus into town filled with senior citizens, I told all the little old ladies that story that he could sing anything and sure enough, they wanted to hear a song since he had such a beautiful voice. He and Big Daddy proceeded to sing Amazing Grace and I have a video to prove it!


The second day that I was hiking with big daddy and Ipod, they were hiking ahead of me as usual. Their normal wake up time was 6:00 or 6:30 so they could hike during a cooler part of the day and finish early in the afternoon. I usually started around 8:00am and caught up to them around lunch time, they would eat a short lunch and leave before I did from lunch locations and I would catch up to and pass them later on in the early after noon. The second day that I was hiking with them though we were passing through some farm lands and crossing several roads and today would be the day that I meet the path pissers.

I cross the last road and am heading along this flat and I see two people stopped in the middle of the AT. They're looking at the ground and inspecting it. I thought that they dropped something and were trying to find it so I keep walking towards them and watching them. It appears that one person is just a very large, perhaps menatlly challenged, juvenile and the other person is the guardian and so I keep walking forward and watching, still wondering what the heck is going on and then I notice that the larger one has their pants down right in the middle of the trail. They have not realized that I just walked up on them and so I just turn around and stand in the path. I hear their mutterings. "Yall alright?" I yell back to them. "You're ok. Come on through" I walk past them, and see that it's two older ladies in their sixties and that they're clearly embaressed.

About an hour later, I catch Big Daddy and Ipod at the shelter and tell them the story. They remember the ladies in my story and their big reply, boils down to how all the older ladies like a man with a Flag or something like that. Horsefly catches us later on and I tell him the story too.

The next day, we all get up for a potential 30 miler around 6:00am and keep walk out around 7:00am. About a mile from the shelter, Fly and I are walking about 20 yds apart and then he stops and turns around. Jokingly I ask if someone was taking a piss in the path and he doesn't reply but all he says is "I remember what you said yesterday". Turns out, we have met the path pissers again. The same two older ladies, out for a walk and not taking a single step off the trail to do their biz. Just to forewarn all of you, don't piss in the middle of a trail or you will be caught by an unsuspecting hiker and you will end up in their trail journal or blog. What a story.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

By the way

Last time I saw Daniel he mentioned he's lost 20 pounds so far!

As for me, I'm officially reinstated and registered for the fall semester. 2008 was not my year to hike. But I have great crafty plans for reducing my pack weight and increasing my endurance before I retry next year. Too bad, because I thought the Georgia "Two" Maine was really clever, and it doesn't apply any more.

Isn't Daniel great, though? Yay Daniel!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Troutville Virginia

Last Wednesday (Jul 9) i rolled into Troutville and was staying here with my Dad's cousin Wanda. I had done 18 miles into town that day and wasn't feeling great the entire time that I was hiking. The morning started out with me, Frat Dog, Horsefly and Turok. We had all made it to the same shelter that night but Frat Dog and Horsefly made the detour into town and were drinking beer when I showed up around 7:00pm. Frat Dog and Turok left early and I haven't seen them since, but Fly and I stopped in at Mcafee's knob and checked out the views. Supposed to be the best views in Virginia. A mile later we found Slim at a shelter and boy was Fly happy to see him. They had been hiking together for a while and were separated at Damascus. Weather was fair the entire day, and it always is, until you're almost to where you want or need to be. Then a storm comes up behind you and BAM, there it is, you're drenched. Without fail, a couple of miles from town and BAM! The sky falls out with nasty wind and lightning. Lucklily the worst of the storm passed us by and we just got rain for a few minutes. When we reached the interstate exchange at Troutville, we agreed on Mexican. They sat us in the back of the building in hopes that we would be out of there before they had to sit any of the cleaner customers near us. When I realized what they had done, I, Fly and Slim were thoroughly amused. We were also amused when we passed our i.d.'s out so that we all could look at them. Slim's looked like a mug shot and Fly was looking a little grunge with a dark plaid shirt on and long hair. We all derived good chuckles from our i.d. event.

I parted with Slim and Fly and proceeded to walk on down the trail to Wanda's house. I was tired of walking but you gotta do what you gotta do. It was only around 6:30 at this point and the sky was no longer threatening and that always makes it easier.

In my time here, I have been getting over a stomach ailment and having a good time getting to know the family and see what they're all about. As much as I asked her if I could help out with anything, she just wouldn't let me help out around the house. I did get to pick green beans out of the garden, drag a fallen limb out of the front yard, pick apples, carry some heavy stuff for her, and learn a little bit about canning. I watched Wanda make applesauce with a ricer and put it away in jars. Yesterday we sliced cucumbers and made bread and butter pickles out of them.

Spence showed me around and showed me what fun was around here. We went out with the flashlight and looked for deer or rabbits, walked through the garden to check up on the vegetables or just sat around and talked for a while at night watching the bugs get zapped in the bug zapper. All this wasn't what I sought out for fun at home, but it was a relaxing sort of fun that I haven't had in a long while.

Sunday, Spence and I drove down to Greensboro and went to the REI there to swap out a backpack. The aluminum stay broke away from the hipbelt and wasn't transferring any of the weight to my hips anymore, so it was painful to carry something had to be done. I also picked up some new trekking poles because the ones that I had were cheap and the tips had become dull plus one was bent in a polevault over a rattlesnake. They were thirty bucks and came 700 miles so I guess they went as far as they were designed to. While in Greensboro, I got to see Brittany again and the three of us walked downtown and ate lunch at Natty Greene's, a little microbrewery right down the street. Brittany told me to go hike some because she was seeing me too much and she didn't miss me anymore. I didn't see where not missing me was a bad thing. We did some 'urban foraging' on blackberries on the way back... true story... they happen every day.

So I guess I leave here today and I may make it 3 or I may make it 11 miles but I hope the terrain eases up. Weaving inbetween knee high rocks isn't my idea of fun. Thanks Wanda and Spence for everything that you have done for me. Look for post cards!

On my mind Damascs -> Pearisburg

In Damascus, I first got the whole story about the fisherman who were shot several weeks before I got to Damascus. An at-first sketchy character was telling me about it and that made me super comfortable... His name was Crazy Horse and he had a lazy eye. I say "at-first" sketchy because after talking to him a little bit, he just like everybody else is just a hiker. All hikers are "at-first" sketchy to some degree. I know that even I probablly sketch some other people out at first. Anyways, I was about to leave town when he was imparting this information on me and him being sketchy and all, I thought he was going to go out there and get me or something. Oh my imagination! At least it keeps things interesting.

Here is the Randall Smith shooting story

All 160 miles to Pearisburg, that crazyfool was on my mind. Really there isn't a lot of danger due to people because they are crazy, but once in a while some nut case finds out that the trail is out there and the people on it would be relatively easy targets. Don't worry about me thought because I avoid the crazies at all cost and I haven't met any so far.

The place where he commited the murders in the 80's and the attempted murders two months ago is a shelter about 18 miles from town. All day I was alone for the most part. I hadn't seen anybody and then a couple of miles from the shelter, I passed three guys. One had a big knife strapped to the shoulder strap and another had a machete strung onto the side of his pack. As I was passing them I was wondering what in the heck people are going out into the woods strapped with machetes? It really does give your average hiker at least a little bit of a scare. When I got to the shelter a little while later, I found out from the hikers that were already there, that one of the three guys that I had passed earlier on the trail was one of the fisherman from above story. That explained the machete and it eased my mind about the whole matter.

At least you know I'm ok, I'm making posts!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Independence Day

July 3 my parents and I met Daniel in Pearisburg, VA. I was able to sprint across the parking lot, give Daniel a hug, and take in the scent. A hiker named Horsefly ("you eat like a horse and fly down the trail") or Doug was with him. In the Food Lion parking lot we showed Daniel the dinners and goodies we brought him, and he approved. The five of us got a room at the Holiday Motor Lodge across the street, and some of us splashed in the pool. Two nights we stayed there, went out to eat several times, drove around to see fireworks, and checked out an "interesting" local 4th celebration in Narrows, VA. No high excitement, in my view, but a whole lot of fun just hanging out. For me, there was a little high being around hikers. Glancing them on the road, I had the urge to jump out and offer food! Doug was an incredibly cool guy, and it was good to meet him. I was happy to see Daniel, too. His hiking kilt becomes him, but he said he's not going to ever wear it on the street. He's visibly thinner, too. Very interesting.

July 5 afternoon, a rainy one, we took Daniel and Doug back to the trail. Then my dad picked up two section hikers, Gooch and Crutch, and took them to their car. They stood and chatted a while, wished my ankles well, and told me to be at some Hog place or other the first week in June next year, if I can make it. Hmmm...

Sorry for those of you who want to hear about his hike. I suppose he doesn't have many opportunities to get on the internet, and he's not sending Allison or me posts to transcribe.

The photo collections are available for public viewing here:

Friday, July 4, 2008

Two Days Past Damascus

Last time I wrote on here, I was in Damascus. Damascus is a strange place. It has the ability to suck you in like none other. Hikers in town stay at The Place which is basically a free place to stay. It's $4 per night and it's all on the honor system. Anyways, everything is whithin easy walking distance, one of the best eating establisments (Sicily's) so far is on the trail there but there is no regular bar and no place to drink beer which is why it is strange that hikers and other people get stuck there. Hikers particularly look forward to the light at the end of the tunnell which is usually food that requires some baking, broiling, grilling or frying or a nice frosty beverage. All in all, I stayed four nights in Damascus and at the end of the third, I felt like my stay was wearing out. I ended up seeing the same people around town and this one guy in particular was giving me wierd looks all the time and wouldn't say much. He was a scraggaly as I am but he lived there in town. On top of that, I was kicked off the computer and out of Mojoes. The lady reasoned that people walking in and seeing me on the computer would walk out and that my thirty minutes per day limit was up hours ago. Wooooooooo! I went back when she was off work though and got the rest of my business done on the computer. I sure showed her!

About the trail though. I left wednesday morning with Dixie Dawg and we took a short cut. Instead of taking the long hilly way from Damascus to where it crosses the Virginia Creeper Trail, we just took the VCT and saved a lot of time. It slowly ascends 900 ft over 10 miles and ends up in the same place that the AT does after it goes 14 miles up, down, around and under hills. It could have possible been one of the better decisions that I have made so far. The next day we walked through the Grayson Highlands, and Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. The thing that is popular about Grayson Highlands and Mount Rogers are the wild ponys that live there. They run around the fields and are there in plain view while the tourists walk around and point and snap pictures or climb rocks in their nice clean cotton clothing. Mount Rogers and surrounding area was set aside for the publoic to use because it is the highest peak in Virginia, but believe me, I didn't feel guilty one bit skipping the side trail to the 'viewless peak'. Just down the trail is where the beauty begins. The most scenic stretch of the AT in the Damascus > Pearisburg stretch is here in Mount Rogers NRA. Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures of the savannah-esque-ness of the open bald areas, but it certainly is the most foreign feeling place. Either side of the trail is thick with brush and up on the hillside is a pony. Feral pony tracks lead off to the hilltops and so on and so forth. Instead of following the blazes on the trees, there are posts stuck in the ground with blazes on them and once in a while one will be painted on a rock.

I was excited to be hiking with someone and not off on my own meaining I was glad to be hiking with Dixie Dawg, but that night he busted his ankle. We were no more than a mile from the shelter around 10:00pm and thats when it happened. We had gotten to the top of Hurricane Mountain and two steps on the other side down he goes. He limps to the shelter and we wern't the quietest, after all Dixie was in a good deal of pain. I could see one person inside and I knew it was Bellows so I called out to him.

That night I met Tony the ridgerunner. What a polite, kind individual. *sarcasm*

<---Dixie Dawg, chill fellow