Friday, June 19, 2009

Damascus, part I

In Damascus public library, and the little popup window gave me 10 minutes left on my session, so not much talking.

Started hiking before the leaves were out. Some of the first plants to come up are now dying. Seasons!

4 states! 460-some miles! Virginia!

Slow as molasses. Couple more 18s, but they screw me over. Shin splints right now. Awfully prone to overuse injury, it seems.

So that means unless I flip and still winter hike, no thru. So what's my destination? What's my quest? Where am I going? I'm open.

As I hike, I note places near road crossings that are beautiful. I note short routes of mostly downhill or really easy stuff, where I'd take a first-time backpacker. I really want to take my mom out here. Weekend it, and we can fit a full-size air mattress!

Unaka Mtn was one of the latest beauties. Spruce and fir, widely spaced. So green. Jeramiah and I note such places as elven. Sometimes we pretend orcs and dragons are in the woods. Sometimes we pretend an evil sorceress is controlling the weather. It's fun times.

But I gotta go! I'll try to post again tomorrow!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Out of Uncle Johnny's

Well! Four days here, two in the bunkhouse, plus a shuttle to Spivey Gap today to slackpack back to the hostel, all free! Wow! Freebird, who's been in charge of the store, is so generous! And of course Johnny and Charlotte, who own the place. We're hiking four miles out to the next shelter tonight, after I eat my last bowl of microwave Mac and Yeast from heaven. New pictures are here:

Heard of some more hikers just going home. How sad! If I get off the trail, I won't be going home!

Feet feel good for now. Yay. Moving on. 339 down!

If you want to send me a package, I'll be checking the post office in Damascus, VA. I don't have the zip code in front of me, but the address would be my name on the first line, next line General Delivery, next Damascus, VA zip code, next "Hold for AT Thru Hiker." You can look up the zip, right?

I'm about two days ahead of my schedule last year. So far behind everyone! But a great time. Grant and Ian (Tolkien dork and museum dork) are with us since the Smokies, so still have some "old" friends for the time being.

OH! Going by the name Bar Fight now, officially. :D Vegan rage and pink fingerless gloves. I will mess you up. :)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

STILL Still Going at Uncle Johnny's

I apologize for the rambling nature of my posts. I always feel like there is so much to say, but I can never remember it when I have internet access. Also, it's hard to communicate what the AT is really like.

Anyway, like I said, I'm chilling here at the hostel for a while because my foot feels funny. It doesn't exactly seem to be getting better, and I also realized this morning that the old injury site is swollen, so I've wrapped it. J. and I are doing laundry and preparing cabins for guests in return for stay tonight. He's still around and hanging out with me, whether it's because he likes me or because he's sickish, I don't know. He's been sick to his stomach for the past day and a half, and he finally puked last night. Leprechaun tried to hike out yesterday, feeling fine, got less than a mile away, and had it coming out both ends. And then returned. A couple others have been having similar problems. Eek.

I'm still waiting to see what will happen. There's a festival in Erwin this weekend, so maybe I'll be around for that, and it'll be fun. Here at the hostel we've been watching movies (Lord of the Rings and O Brother Where Art Thou being specially appropriate favorites) and doing crossword puzzles and playing cards and doing Trivial Pursuit questions and drawing pictures on the photos in the newspaper. And sometimes drinking. Several people who are quite well have been having trouble leaving the hostel because it's just so fun to hang out. A mocking horoscope made up yesterday: "You will chillax and drink beer for the next three days." I have a personal motto: Pooping is always the right choice. Mohawk has his own: Don't fight the zero. And indeed he, and we, and others have not. It's all part of the experience! Though it sucks when people who have been friends for the past week and a half move on. There are strangers outside waiting to be friends, I think. Except for the guy who got to the grape jelly in the hiker box before I did... [narrows eyes]

Hostel dogs are cool. One is a stray who showed up a few days ago and just lies on the sofa. I brushed the hell out of him earlier today. The other is friendly, but he looks like he wants a bath and some itch medicine.

The area between Devil's Fork Gap and Spivey gap has some pretty spots for day hiking. Just suggesting. One more cabin to change the sheets later today I hope.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Still Going at Uncle Johnny's

So here I am at Uncle J's. This is where I stopped last year, having to go home for a nasty stress fracture in the ankle. So I was a bit pissed to feel my foot acting up yesterday, and I would be damned if Erwin, TN would be my hike's end for two years in a row. Thus J. and I only hiked 12 miles yesterday, and then hitched in very easily to Erwin this morning. I plan on staying here until my foot feels better, which I hope is a week or less. It's nowhere near as advanced as last year's problem since I was trying to be proactive in preventing serious injury. I plan on hitching back to where I left off and keep hiking north for the time being.

I've seen others hurt, some seriously. A guy named Centaur, who I met in the Smokies, has gone home for a week. Others took a zero in Gatlinburg. Chairman, who is in design school at NC State, has tendinitis of the Achilles tendon, and after hiking 8 miles north today he decided to hitch back and spend a few days at the hostel. I expect to become acquainted with him! Some people are getting bummed about the monotonous scenery, or bummed when hiking partners split and they find themselves alone for a few days, as the AT experience is largely social. I'm still hiking with Jeramiah, and I don't think even he knows if he'll be waiting for me to heal up. We've hiked together for nearly 300 miles now (we've completed 327 miles of the trail each), and I'm sure it'll feel different for me, whenever we split. Plus, I've entertained ideas of hitching up to Maine, or leaving the trail to visit other parts of the country (any takers?). No plans yet. Besides, I need to try out the new scenery, since the last 200 has been all a repeat of last year.

Healthwise, I'm pretty good. Thought I had giardiasis because of the nausea and cramps and diarrhea around my graduation time, but that got better. Fought some nasty foot fungus and some new blisters last week. Yesterday got a sunburn, and this morning discovered the funny feeling in the corner of my eye is probably also a burn, perhaps from blowing on J.'s cooking fire. Lots of insect bites, but surviving them. Braving an overfull stomach right now, as we just came back from the shuttle to town for Mexican food, and I always seem to eat too much in town. Falafel and cheezecake and tiramisu from Asheville, from my visit with Ashely, were great!

My tarp is working out well, yay. Keeping me dry in the rain. My pack is light and roomy (I started at Springer with 25 pounds but left Hot Springs with 32, eek). My shoes are starting to feel cramped, and I ought to move up a size and replace them soon, but I do love trail runners. Haven't played with any stoves yet. We'll see.

Met some cool people. John here is legally blind, though he can see some. He's hiking sections. Chairman from Raleigh I mentioned. Needles is a tattoo artist--he ought to meet up with Vinnie from earlier! Leprechaun is a rock climber who just got admitted to college today! And Mike from Ottowa is celebrating his 27th birthday today. Apparichaman has a sweet mohawk and curled mustache, and has been going at the trail almost as long as J. and I. Overall, loving the social scene. Loving meeting people, hanging out, and making inside jokes about staph infections.

No bears yet, alas.

My computer time is running out at the hostel, so I'm off to watch episodes of the Simpsons and eat chocolate. Later!