Damascus, VA to Pearisburg, VA

Day 48: Today was a short day out of Damascus. We mailed most of our cold weather gear home, keeping our down jackets, hat and gloves. Since we had to wait for the post office to open, we got a late start. We finished hiking early, which I’m happy about. I need to catch up on some sleep. Trail days was not very restful, because there was so much going on!

Day 49: We hiked 16.2 miles today. I felt good for most of it, though I got a little light-headed near the end. The views from the shelter are spectacular! We got some trail magic today in the form of soda and an extra meal to cook. We stuffed ourselves with easy mac for dinner.

Day 50: We passed 500 miles today! Another 16 mile day but this one was broken up by a hiker feed in Troutdale! So much delicious food and 73 hikers. There was plenty to go around. After the feed we got shuttled back to the trail and had three miles to go to the shelter. We hiked the last mile in the dark with our headlamps. We decided to sleep in the shelter to be quicker getting to bed and faster in the morning. There was a big thunderstorm overnight and it was nice to start out the next day dry!

Day 51: 19.7 trail miles today! Our longest day yet, but we cruised through the miles, making good time. There were no views, so I used music to provide further entertainment. My feet were definitely hurting by the time we got to the Partnership shelter, but nothing more than to be expected from such a long day. Whoever said your feet would stop hurting around 500 miles was lying! There was little room in the shelter, so we decided to hitch to town. We got picked up by a couple from PA that were down doing some section hiking. They drove us to the Pizza Hut in Marion. As we got out of the car, the woman handed Laura $20 and said dinner was on them! You get trail magic in the most unexpected places! So wonderful. We each got a large pizza and salad bar. After dinner we decided to go stay at the Traveler Inn since it was so cheap! I got to talk with my parents on the phone and I miss them. They are the best and I’m thankful that I grew up adventuring into the woods with them. Sleeping on a real bed tonight. Excited to continue our adventure!

Day 52: This morning we spent in Marion, VA resupplying and at the library uploading pictures/videos and blogging. We got a shuttle back to the trail around 3:30 PM. A short 7.1 miles to the first shelter and one viewpoint. We got in a little before 7 PM and had a huge dinner. The conversations tonight were fun. I was smiling and laughing all night. This is what I love about the hiking community! Big day tomorrow.

Day 53: We are now on a normal 6 AM wake up schedule. We weren’t on the trail long when we came to an old school-house. Inside was trail magic! I had soda, chips, a little debbie and I got more sun screen. There was also a museum off the trail, but we decided to continue on instead of visiting. We walked through some cow fields and then came into Athens, VA. We decided to stop at The Barn Restaurant for ice cream and ended up ordering a second breakfast! We later got ice cream at a gas station. Onward we went through more fields and then back into the woods. There were two steep climbs/declines to get through and my feet were sore afterwards. We found more trail magic three miles from the shelter in the form of soda! Once we got to the shelter we set up and went to get water. We talked with some other hikers over dinner and hung our bear bags. 18.4 miles today, bed time!

Day 54: A tough 19.1 miles today. We started the morning with a short but steep up/down and then a 4 mile hike up to Chestnut Knob Shelter. We stopped there for lunch then it was 10 more miles to the next shelter. The terrain was rocky and without views. The last 3 miles were the worst! It was all downhill and my pace slowed greatly, as my feet were killing me! I even cried a little (but not much). I had fun complaining with Cheer Up and Lovin’ Cup once we got to the shelter. We got in pretty late, so we didn’t even get to bed early!

Day 55: Today was a fun day! We cruised the first five miles down to a road where we got shuttled to a free breakfast! There was a sign at the shelter last night telling us about it. We stuffed ourselves and then they gave us a free shuttle to the Dollar General in Bland, VA to resupply! They dropped us right back at the trail. From there we had 9 more miles to the shelter. The terrain was pretty easy but it got very hot by the end of the hike. We got in mid-afternoon, so I took a nap. I was still feeling yesterday’s hike. After I got up, I ate dinner and we hung our bear bags. I think I will read a little before bed tonight.

Day 56: We did just over 16 miles today. After our morning snack, I heard a rumble in the clouds above us. A few minutes later we were being rained on. I decided to not put my rain gear on since it was really warm out and I was already sticky. The rain felt really nice. We arrived at the shelter for lunch and it was full of people. We ended up staying for two hours! After lunch we hiked 6+ more miles and crossed a suspension bridge. We walked half a mile to Trent’s Grocery where we are tenting tonight. I got a bacon burger and Cajun fries, along with a chocolate milkshake! I also got a shower, which is nice because I was stinky and gross and sticky. Can’t wait to do laundry!

Day 57: Today was very hot and I got tired and slow after lunch. We stopped for a break and snack, and I was back to normal afterwards. We hiked to the Woods Hole Hostel, an amazing place! We tented there and got a homemade dinner that was very tasty. Before dinner, the owner had us all hold hands in a circle, give our names, home location and one thing we are thankful for. The food was amazing!

Day 58: We woke to fresh coffee and a great breakfast at the Woods Hole Hostel. After breakfast, it was hard to leave, because the place was so nice and the people so friendly. I played fetch with their dog! Once we set out, the going was easy. We got three viewpoints in the short 10 miles to town. We got into Pearisburg, VA this afternoon and hit the DQ before heading to the hotel we are staying at. We had Mexican food for dinner and a comfy bed to sleep in!

Day 59: Zero Day 🙂

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Roan Mountain, TN to Damascus, VA

Day 40: The Mountain Harbour Hostel indeed has the best breakfast and has been the most hospitable. They even had goats! Today was sunny and warm and I was glad there was lots of shade. Only a few vistas, so we passed the day talking. The campsite we had planned on going to was awful, so we continued on maybe another mile. Very tired today, but not as bad as before our zero.

Day 41: I got two more blisters on my right foot this morning. They are on the other side, near my big toe. It is pretty painful to walk. Eventually I got into a rhythm though. What a beautiful day! I’m glad we had shade in the trees. The waterfalls on Laurel River were gorgeous! Just past those we hit the side trail for Hampton, TN. My sleeping pad wasn’t waiting for me, so Cascade Designs is sending it to Damascus. The Hiker’s Haven was actually a dump and was flying the confederate flag, so we decided to stay at the other hostel in town. It turned out to be an old castle and the owners were super friendly! They even let us do a load of laundry for free so we didn’t have to go back down the “haven”, which has the only laundromat in town. We walked to Subway for dinner and they had a drive thru… what?!

Day 42: It is hard to believe it has been six weeks! A nice cool morning for our climb up Pond Flats and back down again. (A pointless climb with no views.) We got to a public beach on a huge lake and decided to take lunch early there. It got very hot and we dipped our feet in the water. Hiking out of there was easy until we got past the dam. Afterwards it got extremely hot! I even got a little dizzy from it. Thankfully, a thunderstorm rolled in and cooled us off. We didn’t even use our rain gear! My feet killed by the time we got to the shelter. We set up the tent, cooked dinner, and napped for two hours. We got up to hang our bear bags and then I popped one of my blisters. Afterwards, I went right back to sleep for the night. Great views here!

Day 43: There was a undercast when we got up in the morning, which was very cool. The clouds were light and fluffy looking. My blisters and feet hurt, so I popped some Vitamin I and walked on. When we got to a big field on a farm, we ran into some trail magic. It was a group called Riff Raff of former hikers. We ended up hanging out there until about 8:30PM and then we hiked to the closest shelter to set up our tent. We did a little night hiking, but wanted to avoid the impending thunderstorms, so we set up at the shelter. I had the best bear bag throw!

Day 44: Today we hiked 18 miles into Damascus. We cruised for the first 15 or 16 miles, but after that my feet were hurting so we slowed down. It was also raining off and on all day. It rained especially hard for the last three miles or so. I was pretty miserable when we got to town. I was happy to finally get my new sleeping pad though! We ate at the Blue Blaze Cafe and were shivering the whole time. We kept asking for more coffee to help warm us up! Eventually the rain stopped and we took showers to warm up. We were on our way to Tent City to set up, when we heard people were giving away free knitted hats! We got ours and then walked down to Tent City and got settled in near the woods.

Days 45-47: Trail Days! Zero Days! 😀

Erwin, TN to Roan Mountain, TN

Day 35: Last night the trail only came through about three or four times, so I was able to get more sleep than the night before. We woke up, packed up quickly and were on our way. We stopped to get water about an hour in and found out that we only had three iodine tabs left! Thankfully, we still had some of our other purification tabs left. It was a hot day, so sharing one liter of water until 1PM was rough. We did come upon some trail magic at the gap we had planned on stopping at for lunch. I had sweet tea and a banana. Sweat tea is probably my favorite thing about the south. It is so delicious! After lunch we came to a grassy bald with good views. After taking them in, we continued to our camping spot. We decided to take a nap (after filling up on water) and got up later to make dinner. Now to go enjoy the fire that some other hikers just built!

Day 36: We had a nice morning hiking up to a thick spruce forest at the top of a mountain. There was no undergrowth and it was nice and cool. As we started downhill, the old spruce was dead and a new generation was coming up thickly. We stopped in at the next shelter to fill up on water and continued onto Iron Mountain Gap, where we came upon more trail magic! I ate an orange, nutty bar, and pineapple orange soda, along with my own lunch. Afterwards we hiked through an apple orchard and could really feel the sun burning. We came upon a sign about the hostel we were headed to (Greasy Creek Friendly) and had to do some investigating to find the correct way. We made it though! We resupplied and headed to town for burgers, fries, salad and milkshakes! Looking forward to sleeping on a mattress. We are planning an early morning tomorrow, so we aren’t worried about being woken by the crazy neighbor.

Day 37: Today we got up at 5AM, which was lucky, because shortly after the paranoid schizophrenic rode down to his mailbox on a lawn mower and later continued to ride around in his lawn. We packed up as we watched this go down and were on the trail around 5:45AM with our headlamps. The sunrise was gorgeous, with pinks, blues and oranges! Our first break was at a nice lookout and the low sun created shadows, allowing us to see more details. We took another break later as we trudged up Roan Mountain for a few hours. We ran into Mountain Squid along the way with a volunteer trail crew. At the top of Roan Mt. we found the bathrooms locked and no water, so we went to the shelter to fill up. We decided to hike another mile down to a gap before eating lunch, and we are glad we did! An older couple hiking up from the gap recognized us as thru-hikers and gave us ziplock bags full of food. More trail magic! We devoured the food and our lunch. Afterwards, we climbed two balds with great views. From there we trudged four more miles to the shelter with sore feet and a blister on my little toe. I was happy to get to the shelter, which is an old barn with beautiful views! I’m very tired and another early morning tomorrow, so it’s off to bed for me!

Day 38: Only nine miles today, but my feet and blister killed the whole time. Every step hurt, but for some reason I didn’t take any Vitamin I. I was holding back tears by the end! As we got to the road there were a bunch of dogs, which I got excited about. As I went to pet one it barked and growled at me. That was all it took for me to lose it. I walked away quickly as I started to bawl my eyes out. That dog set me over the edge! Thankfully when we got to the hostel it was beautiful and awesome with lots of friendly dogs.

Day 39: My 25th birthday! I ate ice cream, lied around reading, and took several naps. It was awesome! Zero Day 🙂

Hot Springs, NC to Erwin, TN

Day 29: A good day back on the trail. We did about eleven miles and most of those were uphill. The last half mile before we stopped for lunch was tough! I definitely needed a break. We wanted to keep pushing though, so we could eat lunch at the tower. It was worth it as the views from the tower were spectacular. You can tell that the mountains are becoming more mellow, even since Max Patch. There were supposed to be severe thunderstorms today, but we managed to make it to camp without even getting rained on! Feeling tired today, but happy to be back on the trail.

Day 30: We did 15.4 miles today and it felt great! We killed the uphills. The morning started out cloudy, but the sun was shining through by early afternoon. We got some great views from some cliffs. We climbed a section of the trail that was labeled “exposed and strenuous” and it reminded me a lot of Maine hiking. We hiked along a ridge for a ways. To one side there were mountains and on the other it was flat and littered with towns and farms. It was funny to see such a contrast in the landscape! We had “Thanksgiving” for dinner, which means stuffing with chicken and cranberries rehydrated in the water. It was a delicious meal and a good change from what we’ve been having. Things are cooling off, so I’m all snuggled in bed!

Day 31: A wonderful but tiring day! We planned to hike 8.6 miles to Devil Fork Gap and stay at the Laurel Trading Post, where we needed to resupply. However, we got there at noon and were able to hitch a ride, so we decided to hike a bit further. We ended up going six more miles to the next shelter. My feet are the most tired, but a few other muscles are sore too. The afternoon/early evening was sunny and warm with a nice cool mountain breeze. Wonderful weather to hike in! Especially since the morning was cold. Tonight is cooling off but we are happy it is not raining. Laura says, “No complaining, unless it’s raining.” As for our afternoon, a cheeseburger and two cans of soda will do a lot to boost morale. We had a great afternoon. Definitely ready for bed!

Day 32: “Here I sit all broken-hearted, tried to shit but only farted. Yesterday I took a chance, tired to fart and shit my pants.” ~ privy poems
Today was a fun day. We got stuck at some trail magic at Sam’s Gap for about 2.5 hours eating food and I got a Straw-ber-rita! Afterwards I wanted to go into a food coma, but we needed to keep going. We ended up only doing about ten miles total, but we are still on schedule to get to Erwin tomorrow. We saw more snow flowers today and they were awesome! We also got onto a bald with 360 degree views. We would have stayed longer but it was super windy. The bald was covered with grass. Off to bed early tonight.

Day 33: What a windy night. The wind didn’t hit our tent, but it was howling in the treetops overhead all night. I got up in the night to use the privy and the stars were absolutely beautiful. So bright! In the morning I didn’t want to get out of bed. But I managed and was rewarded with a few good views. The day warmed up and I wanted to take a nap in the sun! We hiked mostly downhill and my left foot started aching around ten miles in. I popped some Vitamin I and we decided to go all the way into Erwin, TN. We are camping at Uncle Johnny’s Hostel and taking a zero here tomorrow. Met some new hikers and saw some familiar faces. I love how nice everyone is and how easy conversation is with fellow hikers. I am starting to feel a sense of community out here. We had a pizza and salad tonight, looking forward to more food in the morning! Hopefully my feet feel better too.

Day 34: Zero Day! 🙂