I made record time today covering 25 miles in nine hours – including breaks. The day started out a bit cold at Iron Mountain Shelter. My tent and my hiking poles had ice on them this morning. It took me over an hour to get warmed up and in my hiking zone. Some well timed trail magic by a rural church in Tennessee really got me going. Little Debbies are better than any energy bars!
The terrain was very moderate and that accounts for my fast pace, plus I was really motivated to get to Damascus – the best trail town on the AT. I stopped at Mount Rogers Outfitters to get a new pack and a sleeping pad. I had run out of room on the hip belt of my old pack and couldn’t tighten it anymore. I don’t know how much weight I’ve lost but my waist has shrunk over two inches. That middle-age middle is almost all gone! The new sleeping pad is a thick one that weighs the same as my old thinner one and hopefully I can sleep better on it.
I’m staying at the Hikers Inn and have enjoyed talking to the owner, Paul, and his friends Dave and Jeff, who were hanging out at the inn this afternoon. Paul is from Belgium, thru-hiked in 2010 and liked Damascus so much that he decided to move here and open the inn. Damascus really is a beautiful little town!
I had pizza and beer for dinner at the Blue Blaze Cafe with Staff, Bigfoot, and a few others. I also saw some other hikers I’ve met along the way including Navigator, who I first met in Georgia in my third night on the trail, and Whiskers and Rocket, who I met at the Aquone Hostel near the Nantahala Outdoor Center. Whiskers gets his trail name from his great beard. Rocket is from Minnesota and most recently was the coach of the Harvard Women’s Cross Country Ski Team. She’s super fit, cute as a button and gets her trail name from her ability to blow her nose (both nostrils at the same time) without using her hand. (Pretty gross, I know, but I want to share it all with you!) i guess that’s an important skill to have if you’re a top cross country skier.
Tomorrow I’m going to get a late start and only cover ten miles. I can feel that my legs need a break after three long hiking days.
I’m really happy to be in Virginia