Week 6 on the AT: Trail Daze

Weekly mileage

Our feet took us 76.5 miles this week

Video of the Week

Highlights

Trail Days was the most fun weekend ever! The town of Damascus, population 800, swells to over 10,000 for the weekend. Danielle and I hike at a very random pace (very emotionally, weather and food dependent), so we rarely hike with the same people. It was so fun to catch up with friends we hadn't seen for weeks. Trail Days was a wild time- tons of beer, free food, and great company. What more could a thru-hiker ask for?! It was especially cool to meet thru-hikers from previous years and hear about their experiences. We hitched a ride from a bad ass lady, Sparkler, who thru-hiked in 1993! Trail Days was a blast, but we were so ready to get back into the woods after our hiatus from hiking.

Miss Janet's drum circle

Miss Janet's drum circle

I had been looking forward to hiking through the Greyson Highlands since I first read about it. The legend is true- Wild ponies really do come right up to you! They were so friendly (and maybe a little annoyed I didn't have snacks to share). Unfortunately, none of the ponies followed me out of the park. I was really hoping one would trot with me to Maine and carry my pack. A girl can dream. 

image.jpg
image.jpg
image.jpg
500 mile mark in the Greyson Highlands! 

500 mile mark in the Greyson Highlands! 

Trail Magic

When someone surprises you with kindness on the trail- usually in the form of food or beer

There was magic everywhere at Trail Days. Damascus has like eight churches and churches are the real MVPs of trail magic, so we did not go hungry. There was an abundance of free coffee and snacks available all day, every day. The fire station in Damascus provided an amazing Italian feast the first night of Trail Days- they fed over 600 hikers! A sweet group of old ladies knit over 800 hats for thru-hikers and gave them away for free. The hats were actually adorable and not as frumpy as you might think. Tons of people picked up hats and it seemed like each hat totally fit that hiker's personality. I could go on and on- it was a magical weekend!

It was a struggle leaving Damascus after Trail Days (see bummer below). When we finally worked up the courage and motivation to get out of town once and for all, we were slapped by a tough first day back. After struggling through 21 miles, we were setting up our tent when a man, who had driven to our campsite, delivered us free pizza. Seriously. The guy thru-hiked last year, was leaving Trail Days, and thought he'd drop off some pizza at a popular camp site not far from Damascus. A true hero. #blessed

Trail Angel

 A kind soul who helps a hiker in need

The Crandell family took Danielle and I in for the day and it was everything we needed and more! Mr. Crandell picked us up in Damascus and welcomed us into his home in Bristol. We showered, did laundry, and caught up on Grey's Anatomy (we miss wifi that less than 100 people are using at once). I think Mr. Crandell was shocked by the amount of food we could eat. We devoured like three rounds of happy hour snacks, then relaxed a bit before enjoying a true southern BBQ feast. Danielle converted from vegetarianism the night before, so she was thrilled to enjoy pulled pork and chicken wings for the first time in years. Strawberry short cakes with freshly picked strawberries were the perfect ending to a great day. We are so thankful for their hospitality and generosity- it truly made our week!

image.jpg

Trail Names

A wilderness alias- I am Sunshine, Danielle is Moonshine

Water bug: Hands down the most ridiculous person we've met on the trail. We first met Water bug when he showed up to camp with two thirty racks and a dozen burgers from Wendy's to share. You'd think he was on an insane amount of uppers but it turns out, that's just his personality. He is the life of the party and never fails to amuse me. Even a small dose of water bug is kinda overwhelming, but it's hard not to love it. 

S.L.A.M.: This boss 19 year old already hiked the PCT and CDT. Yeah, she's triple crowning before she even gets to college. She was struggling with norovirus when we met her- booting and rallying all the way up and down mountains. She hiked fricken 20 miles when she was super sick- and kept up with us! Danielle and I would've for sure called mountain EMS to get airlifted out of the woods if we were in her position. Also, her name stands for Stop Looking At Me. So she's a sassy bad ass.

Other trail names: Avalon, Grandma, Cinderella, Burrito, Cupcake

Bummers

The inevitable, devastating, yet retrospectively hilarious moments on the trail

Leaving Trail Days was the worst. We had only taken one zero day before reaching Damascus, so taking almost four was too much. Too relaxing, too much good food, too much booze. We felt like such bums. I don't regret one minute of Trail Days, but we needed to get the hell out of town and back into a routine. I missed the woods- isn't that weird? Our first few days back on the trail were so rough. We made big miles, between 16 and 23, but our bodies hated us. We had tons of aches and pains as if it was our first week again. It probably had something to do with the fact that we didn't drink any water or eat anything with nutritional value during the festival. Regardless, being back on the trail in any condition was definitely a morale booster. Summary of the weekend: Trail days was the most fun I never want to have again. Until next year. 

At least the hike out of Damascus was beautiful! This is on Whitetop mountain, the 2nd tallest peak in Virginia. 

At least the hike out of Damascus was beautiful! This is on Whitetop mountain, the 2nd tallest peak in Virginia. 

image.jpg