Hit mile 800, saw first bear, and headed to Trail Days!

For the past couple days I’ve been hiking with Sticks, Wildcard, Deadcat, Bacon and Airborne – an awesome group! Yesterday we hit mile 800 (!!) and this morning we hiked 7 easy miles to get to a road crossing. We are currently waiting for a rental car so we can drive about 200 miles south back to Damascus for Trail Days. Trail Days is a big hiker festival, which we will be at for 2 days, then drive back to mile 808 and get back on trail.

Three highlights from the past couple days:

1. Hitting the Triple Crown in VA (with awesome weather). The Triple Crown is Dragon’s Tooth, McAfee Knob, and Tinker Cliffs.

Dragon’s Tooth
McAfee Knob
Tinker Cliffs with Wildcard and Paws

2. Getting trail magic in Daleville, VA from the Quirins. They found us resupplying in town at a coffee shop and offered us a place to stay out of the rain for the night, shower, laundry, home-cooked breakfast the next morning, and an opportunity to slack pack 18 miles. The Quirins thru-hiked two years ago with their 1 year old baby! They rock!

3. Sticks and I saw our first bears! It was a mama bear with 3 cubs. Very cool experience that gave us lots of adrenaline to get up the mountain.

We are all excited for Trail Days, but a bit anxious about the crowds and party scene, which will be quite a change from the environment we have been living in for the past two months. Everything has been great and I’m looking forward to slowing down the miles a bit after Trail Days because this experience is flying by and I want to be more conscious of savoring every moment. Today is day 61 on trail 🙂

On a less happy note, there was some shocking news on trail. A few days ago there was a murder about 100 miles north of Damascus in VA. A male thru-hiker was killed and a female was injured. The individual who committed the crime is now in jail. This tragic event is disturbing for the AT community, but the hiker community is incredibly strong and will come out of this even stronger than before. Thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of the victims.

That’s all for now.

– Rocket

33 mile day brings me to mile 636!

Trail life continues to excite and inspire me every day. I woke up yesterday with no sure plan in mind and ended up hiking my highest mileage day yet – 33 miles total! Since hiking my first 20 mile day, I had two other goals in mind: hike a marathon and hike a 30 miler. As I set out yesterday morning, I realized all factors were working in my favor to go for a 33 miler. It was a bit rainy, which made for a cooler and shadier day, there weren’t many great views to stop at aside from Dismal Falls, the elevation was relatively mild and at the end of 33 miles was an enticing destination: Angels Rest hostel and Mexican food in Pearisburg, VA.

I went for it and am feeling very proud of myself. I don’t think I will do this many miles again for a while; the miles weren’t as enjoyable as other days because I found myself just wanting to get to my destination rather than enjoying the journey. That said, it was well worth it to meet up with my friends at the hostel and get a Cinco de Mayo margarita! I also now know how my body responds to 30+ miles. I’m a bit tired and achy this morning, but am planning to get a few errands done and have a leisurely hike out this afternoon. Maybe I’ll hike 1 mile, maybe it will be 20. The spontaneity and freedom to set up camp whenever I feel like is a characteristic of trail life that I really enjoy.

That’s all for now. Angels Rest is an awesome place and I highly recommend!

Oh and my Salomon boots that I put a little too close to the fire a couple weeks ago are holding up decently well! I’ll probably look to switch to the trail runner version in about 200 miles or so.

^^600 mile marker!

– Rocket