Trail Journal

Date: October 28 2000
Trail Day: 150
Miles Today: 24
Location: Chestnut Knob Shelter
Section Mile: AT 1560
ECT Mile: 2259

4-5 of today's miles were along Wolf creek. The trail has not followed creeks since Maine. It was a good change. I have now passed Firebreather and Fall Girl. They had gone into Bland to meet Fall Girl's parents. I had passed Sweet Cicily and George in Pearisburg.

The mountains are now getting bigger as we move towards the Smokies. I think doing more than 20 miles is not a good idea anymore. The body may hold for a couple of days but then collapses. Yesterday was quite bad for me. I am also reading other sobo's going thru a similar experience now. I think its better to do a slightly lower mileage but consistently. 20 may be a good target, although I will have to do a 23 or so today to get into Atkins as I am out of food.

I barely made it into the shelter in time. Ate rice and sardines with chilli. It was excellent. Also met 2 guys from Kentucky. One of them is a transportation planner for Lexington. He knows of The Coradino Group (where I used to work) and Ken Kaltenback and Dave Ripple. Small world !

Water continues to be a problem. I picked up another plastic soda bottle on a street to use as a water bottle. Thank God for road side trash !

Date: October 29 2000
Trail Day: 151
Miles Today: 23
Location: Village Motel, Atkins
Section Mile: AT 1583
ECT Mile: 2282

Another long day into Atkins. Last night was cold - perhaps 30 F. The morning was beautiful with clear skies. There was a good view from the shelter - took a shot. It's a very nice shelter built on top of Chestnut Knob, although it doesn't have any water. Some of the trail ran through pretty valleys and meadows.

The register entries show that there are about 5 sobo's within 3 days ahead of me. I think I will see them in Damascus if they take a O.

I was extremely worn out when I got to Atkins. Did my laundry, showered and ate 1, 3 piece chicken dinner with 2 sides, 1 liver with onion dinner with 2 sides, 1 BLT with chips, 2 hot dogs with chilli and 2 milk shakes.

Called Vivek asking him to send me my Leki poles. The walking sticks make a big difference. Hopefully I will have to do very few 20+ days till I clear the Pinhoti Trail in Alabama (another 1000 miles). Now I have another 4 day, 75 miles to get into Damascus. It is considered the friendliest trail town on the AT. Also a very important point as it marks the completion of 75 % of the AT as well as the near completion (3 miles short) of Virginia - a monster of a state.

Virginia is a state where a good number of thru-hikers drop out. Its called the Virginia blues. I have read of several sobo's who have dropped out. Marlin in particular was note worthy. I had been seeing his entries for almost half the AT. He draws a shooting star like symbol with his entries and is hence easy to remember. I draw a little spider web with a spider in mine -similar to the one on the web site (Removed since).

Date: October 30 2000
Trail Day: 152
Miles Today: 23
Location: Trimpi Shelter
Section Mile: AT 1606
ECT Mile: 2305

Got a slightly late start. I did not know that the time had been shifted back. The day just flew by and it was dark by the time I got to the shelter. It was a very good day. Decided to do a 23 as the terrain was fairly easy. I probably should have stopped at 20 as there was a stream there and I could have tarped.

Sobos ahead of me now are 5th Wheel, Mr. Pink, Blond, Apollo, Man on the Moon, Mother Goose and Rabbit. I think I will see most of them in Damascus. 5th Wheel writes obscenities in the trail registers - a copy cat shock jock. The times he doesnt, he's actually quite funny.

I was very well rested after last night. I am now about 10 straight line miles from Tennessee. The trail now does a horrible meander. Its 16 straight line miles from the Mount Rogers head quarters to the town of Damascus but it is 55 miles by trail.

Also found a blaze orange vest just as I got out of Atkins. It is a good idea to wear them during hunting season. I saw 2 bow hunters today. I did not see the second one till I was 10 ft in front of him. I was shocked when he moved. He was in camouflage.

Date: October 31 2000
Trail Day: 153
Miles Today: 20
Location: Wise shelter
Section Mile: AT 1626
ECT Mile: 2325

Today's hike had two 1500 ft climbs - one to Iron mountain and another to Pine mountain. We are now at an elevation of 5000 ft. First time since the Whites. The top of Pine mountain is a bald and is very beautiful.

Met Mr. Pink, Mr. White, Mr. Blond and Fairweather at the shelter. We had a fire going and talked for a while. Also saw ponies on one of the mountain tops. the Forest Service uses them to keep the flats grazed and auctions them off every year.

The top soil has become thin once again at these elevations and the temperature has also dropped. Its going to be a cold night.

Date: November 1 2000
Trail Day: 154
Miles Today: 22
Location: Near Bear Tree Gap
Section Mile: AT 1648
ECT Mile: 2347

Fairweather is having a party at a friend's place. It seems the friend's father told Fairweather she would never finish the trail and if she did, he would throw a beer keg party with a band. Now that Fairweather has come so far he's keeping his word and there's a party on Saturday. So my plans are to do a full day today, a half day into Damascus tomorrow, take a O day, hike 15 miles with the 4 and then go to the party. Sure sounds like fun.

Last night was quite cold. I should have worn my thermal underwear. The days hike started quite sluggishly. I went on the wrong trails twice. I was quite sure I wouldn't cross 20 miles and was surprised that I did. The day was beautiful - very sunny with a fairly cold wind.

Passed Mr. Zip along the way. He's a retired postal employee and is doing a flip flop - Pearisburg - Katahdin, Pearisburg - Springer. He said he does only 13-15 miles a day.

Saw some more ponies on the way. Took a couple of shots. My pace picked up considerably the last 5 miles.

Here's a poem inspired when I was hiking into Atkin's and completed today.

Uphill Climb

A weary traveller,
After a long day,
To the next shelter,
I make my way.

I round the corner,
After an easy run,
And a forebidding hill,
Blocks out the sun.

As I hang my head,
And roll my eyes,
The little voice speaks,
And I realize.

A bed of roses,
Was never promised to me,
And as fires,
Test gold's purity,
So we are tested,
By adversity.

With heavy tread,
I now climb the hill,
Knowing my goal,
Draws nearer still.

And along with,
Other setbacks untold,
This too'll be just,
A bump on the road.

Date: November 2 2000
Trail Day: 155
Miles Today: 11
Location: The Place, Damascus
Section Mile: AT 1659
ECT Mile: 2358

It was very cold last night. My thermometer read 15 F but the actual temperature may have been 20 F. Heard a dog yelping as soon as I started off - did not know where it was. The trail did some ups and downs before dumping into Damascus. Some of it ran on the side of fairly steep hills. The footing was poor with little rocks and leaf cover. They could have routed it along the Virginia Creeper trail which is an old abandoned railroad grade.

First order of business was eating a banana split. Then checked email and got my mail drop. Went to "The Place" which is a hostel run by a local church. Its a really nice place. Only downside I could see was that no alcohol was allowed. Showered, did laundry and ate a lot. Met Apollo and Man on the Moon. They are 2 brothers from Rhode Island. They also have a journal on the web. Also met 5th Wheel. He's a very quiet, soft spoken guy who uses no foul language in his speech. Why he writes garbage, I dont know.

Started to read a novel - long and boring. After 48 pages here's what happened - An expert in dating antiques was called to Italy to examine a recently found statue and she started working on it. This took the author 48 pages!

Date: November 3 2000
Trail Day: 156
Miles Today: 0
Location: The Place, Damascus
Section Mile: AT 1659
ECT Mile: 2358

The shoes I bought in Bueno Vista are horrible. The sole has collapsed and the footing is now very uneven. I did not realize this on the trail but as soon as I started walking on the road it was apparent. There are no shoe shops in Damascus. I was discussing my options with the folks at the breakfast place. They told me I could get shoes in Abingdon about 13 miles away. One of them also let me borrow his bike. The Virginia Creeper trail runs to Abingdon. It was a nice bike ride. I bought a pair of Reeboks and drank some beer in a local tavern. The waitress kept calling me Sweetie. Its a southern custom and takes some getting used to.

My Leki poles are stuck because of dirt and gunk. Took it to the outfitter. They cleaned it out for me. Met Mr. Zip, Moondance, Mr. White, Mr. Pink and Mr. Blond again. Later on, at about 8 PM Fall Girl, Firebreather, Sweet Cicily and George showed up. It was nice to see them again. Its interesting that even I have seen them the most on the trail, I haven't gotten to know them much. We have never spent time in a town together. I hope we get a chance to do that soon. The AT is now slowly beginning to wind down. We have started talking about it. Even though its not the ending point for me, I am starting to feel a little emotional. It will certainly be a big transition point. It also looks as though a large number of people will be finishing around the 1st week of December.

At night, me, the 3 Mr's and Moondance played a version of Monopoly by Mad magazine. It was goofy.

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