Did you know the average (male) thru-hiker burns 5000-7000 calories a day?
Dirt Stew and I just made it into Damascus, VA (a new state!!) by hiking a new record number of miles yesterday, 26 miles – a full marathon. We were supposed to do 16 miles and then hike 10 miles the next day, but we got to the shelter at 16 miles and it was only 3pm in the afternoon and the terrain was really well graded, so we decided to go for the whole 26 miles and then take a day off; a good decision because Dirt Stew needed new boots, and I wanted to buy hiking poles. So now we have plenty of time for our errands.
After we left Erwin we talked to our friend, Gavin, who wanted to hike for a day or two with us. We decided to meet him where US19E meets the trail, but that meant we needed to do 48 miles in two days and one morning to get to him. We did close to 20 miles a day, then 8 miles in the morning before we met him. Those last 8 miles were particularly brutal because it had started raining and it was incredibly windy. We had to go over the first 5 miles on “balds” (mountains which have no trees on them- just grass).
The winds on the top of the balds were probably around 50 miles per hour or more, and we could not possibly walk in a straight line. The rain felt like hail hitting us at that speed, and the fog was so heavy we could bearly see what was in front of us.
Anyway once we met Gavin, the weather cleared, and he had brought sodas, fruit and a surprise dinner for us that night! That evening was one of the most fun on the trail so far- Gavin made us cheese fondue (1.5 pounds of cheese, and three homemade loaves of bread). He quickly earned the trail name “Chef”.
The three of us were just about able to polish that food off, and then we had a camp fire and sang camp songs, told riddles and jokes. Our friend “On The Loose” had some girl scout cookies to share too.
After Gavin’s visit we went to a hostel right off the trail called Kincora, which was very homey and we enjoyed spaghetti that some hikers made. Bob Peoples is the man that runs Kincora, and he is one of the most famous people on the Appalachian Trail. He does lots of trail maintenance along with running this very cozy hostel. Just a day out of Kincora, we ran into a bunch of trail maintenance people and offered to help out, and Bob Peoples was there overseeing the project. After we did an hour or so of work with them and were ready to walk away, Bob gives us each an official ATC patch for helping out – we were over the 2000th hiker to stop in the middle of a hike and help with trail maintenance!
Now we’re in Damascus, the most famous trail town on the AT- and we’re eating and resting quite well. It’s really scary how much food we can eat now that our appetites have kicked in. We probably eat about three times as much as we did before we started hiking, and three times as much food is REALLY HEAVY! We’re looking forward to switching out our winter stuff for our summer stuff, which will be a lot lighter. We had really warm weather for a couple weeks (in the 80’s), but this past week has been near freezing at night, and next week it is forcasted to rain for 5 days. We’re happy with our decision to wait another 2 weeks or so to make the switch.
Next town is Atkins, which is in about 5 days!
Dormouse and Dirt Stew