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.
Date: November 4 2000
Trail Day: 157
Miles Today: 15
Location: Jefferson West
Section Mile: AT 1674
ECT Mile: 2373
Late last night AYCE also showed up at the place after a 40 mile day ! Today morning me and Mr. Zip decided to do an early breakfast and went to the Street Car cafe at 6:00 AM. It was closed. We decided to leave our pack back at "The Place" and go to another breakfast place. Moondance and AYCE were already up and joined us.
The first 5 miles of the trail were a climb. Crossed into Tennessee after about 3 miles. Took a photo at the border. This is now my 14th state. After the climb the hike was quite easy. Got to US 421 at about 1:30. Mr. White, Moondance, Mr. Blond and Mr. Pink then showed up. We waited for a while for Sabrina's friends - Marriette and Lena. We then drove in the wrong direction for a while before finding the right way.
The party was quite fun. It was also one of the other guest's birthday. So they had a stripper ! It was fun. We had dinner and drank the beer. Me, Alice (Mariette's sister) and Sam (Alice's room-mate) were up till 2:30 AM finishing the beer and talking about politics, religion and abortion. They are bright young women.
Date: November 5 2000
Trail Day: 158
Miles Today: 0
Location: Low Gap
Section Mile: AT 1674
ECT Mile: 2373
A typical after party morning. Every one was slow. We had breakfast, took some shots and left. By about 1:00 PM we were on the trail. I decided to take a nap and do a O day today in the wilderness. Should be a fairly cold night.
Date: November 6 2000
Trail Day: 159
Miles Today: 24
Location: Near Watauga Dam
Section Mile: AT 1698
ECT Mile: 2397
It was cold last night - 25 F although I slept quite warm. I have found that its warmer to sleep outside on the leaves than in the shelters. The floor of the shelter is raised above the ground and tends to cool quickly whereas the leaves dont.
Not too many elevation changes today. So it was a good hike. Continued to have water problems. Most of the springs are dry. We certainly need some rain.
It now loooks like Firebreather's group of 4 and the Mister's group of 4 and Mr. Zip are a few miles ahead of me. I should be able to catch them up tomorrow. There is a good possibility that me and the Firebreather group will get to Springer within a few days of each other.
I was trying to get to Watauga Lake Shelter (another 1 mile) but decided against it because most probably all the 9 ahead of me are at the shelter and I will have to sleep out anyway.
Got water from the dam via a rocky, sliding 50 ft walk. Tarping tonight as it looks like it will rain. I have not heard the pitter-patter of rain on my tarp in a long time and miss it.
Date: November 7 2000
Trail Day: 160
Miles Today: 12
Location: Kinkora Hostel
Section Mile: AT 1710
ECT Mile: 2409
It rained last night but I slept quite dry. Hiked about a mile to the Watauga Lake shelter. Mr Pink, Mr White and Mr Blond were there. It looks like there were 10 hikers there last night and 4 had to sleep outside. Good thing I did not go there last night.
Had a good climb up Pond flats. We are now seeing less switch backs. I think we are slowly transitioning to the sharp ups and downs of Georgia. Got to Laurel Fork Shelter where I saw Moondance, George, Sweet Cicily, Fall Girl and Firebreather. We then hiked the remaining 3 miles together to the Kinkora hostel. Made today a short day. Today is also a very important day for me - I cross the half way point of my hike.
We decided to make a Mexican community meal. Went shopping and came back with about 30 bags of groceries. Mr Pink, White and Blond were also at the hostel. I bought the ice cream to celebrate my half way point. We had a good dinner and dessert. Listened to some of the election news and played scrabble. This is a very nice hostel run by an ex-military gentleman. It is very comfortable and cozy.
Date: November 8 2000
Trail Day: 161
Miles Today: 20
Location: Apple House Shelter
Section Mile: AT 1730
ECT Mile: 2429
Firebreather, FallGirl and I made pan cakes today morning. This was the first time cooking them although they are very similar to Dosai (South Indian dish) and Injira (Ethiopian dish). Mr. Zip will be doing a 13 mile slack pack north bound back to the hostel while all the others will be doing a 20 mile slack pack. Me, being a self righteous purist :) will continue on as normal.
Met Mr. Zip, Mr. White, Mr. Pink, Mr. Blond and then the group of 4 (Firebreather, FallGirl, Sweet Cicily and George) George was listenting to the radio and said we wont know about the election results till tomorrow.
The first 10 miles went quick but the second 10 miles were very slow. I would have stopped sooner but had no water. Met Grinder at the shelter. He is a 53 year old gentleman who is doing a section from Delaware Water Gap to Hot Springs. Accidentally left some food on the floor and one of the mice got into it.
Date: November 9 2000
Trail Day: 162
Miles Today: 20
Location: Clyde Smith Shelter
Section Mile: AT 1750
ECT Mile: 2449
Today was a very wet day. It started off dry but started raining within half an hour. Started off with a long climb. The top was a bald and the wind was strong enough to push me around. I had to walk at a 70 degree angle leaning forwards and sideways to prevent myself getting blown over. The rain was pelting and was quite painful sometimes.
It was so cold and my fingers so numb I did not make any register entries. The correspondence between the maps and the few signs on the trail is very poor - I could not tell where I was on the trail at several places. I was planning on stopping at High Knob shelter but never found it. I knew I had missed it when I started doing a long descent. Decided to head to the next shelter another 6 miles out. I know that the Firebreather group was planning on staying at the High Knob Shelter. These are not good conditions to "explore" the territory.
Grinder was at the shelter. Cooked dinner, ate and got comfortable in my sleeping bag.