Saturday, rainy Saturday

It’s my last day in Damascus and I’ve bumped into a lot of my old trail friends: Bitter Goat, Rainbow Brite, Mr. Cleveland, Willow, Stupid, and some others I recognized (yet not hiked any miles with) – Mountain Man, Nomad, Stupid, and more.

I’ll be honest, I’m having mixed emotions being down here. Maybe it’s because there are so many people here (literally thousands of hikers), or it’s trail nerves given I haven’t hiked for three weeks. I’m not sure what it is, but I don’t feel super pumped for some reason; that bothers me. I don’t have the spark in my belly like I used to. Could also be due to the fact that I just spent three weeks off the trail.

I’m trying to keep focused and spend time consciously thinking of being back on the AT tomorrow morning with Tie Dye. I’m looking forward to hiking with her again, but I’m second guessing my decision to not return to Hemlock Hollow.

I took another walk through the vendors again first thing and said threw a “mornin’!” to AWOL as I passed his tent. I met him yesterday, quiet fella, very humble. He’s a bloody AT legend and he talks in a soft voice with such a “good guy” mannerism. I liked him a lot, and it was a thrill to meet him in person and get a handshake. Instead if asking for a photo opp — like I usually do — I asked if he wouldn’t mind signing my cap: he did, gladly, and said it was the first time he’d signed anyone’s hat before, and let out a grin as he autographed my ball cap.

I’m sitting in my hammock next to the river by Damascus Old Inn with my tarp in porch mode, looking out to the waterfall to my right and flowing to my left. It’s gorgeous.

Stink Bug and Honey Bun mailed back their tent today as they’d both bought new Snipe hammocks from Wilderness Logics – they have a vendor tent here, too, along with ZPacks, Hennessy Hammocks, Osprey, Black Diamond, and many more

I managed to find a spot yesterday that had three trees in pretty much of a perfect triangle shape. We set up out hammocks and tarps here last night and all slept soundly.

I’m nervous about tomorrow and what the days ahead will bring.

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Damascus and Trail Days

Quick update: hanging (literally) with Stink Bug and Honey Bun in Damascus. Convinced them to ditch their tent and buy hammocks. We’ll be hanging in our hammocks by the river tonight. Done with my tent so I can mail that back home. Thank god.

Ice coffee for now, and I’ll hit the post office later today.

Road trip, friends, and Virginia

After many conversations with family and friends, I have decided to rejoin the AT with my hiking buddies Captain Dan, Tank, and Camel in Virginia, and a touch north of Damascus.

My original plan was to return to where I left the trail at Hemlock Hollow, and just pick up my hike from there and head north.  The purist part of my brain was 100% sold on this, and it just made sense to start where I left off.  The only negative about being I’d be ~170 miles behind my friends whom, until my departure, had played such a large part in my own journey; I considered them family.

Plan B was to rejoin the AT at Cap’s current location, which is a little north of Damascus, about 466 miles from Springer.  To be honest, I think I’d rather just hike the trail as a normal backpacker than partake in the truck slack packing, but at this point, I’d prefer to just be with my friends again.  Familiar faces and the tightness of our bonds, it’s a no brainer.

Virginia it is.

You may be asking yourself what I’m going to do about the ~170 mile gap that I’m leaving out.  Those I’ve spoken with of my decision, some wondered if I’d just leave them be and not bother walking those miles.  Not at all.  My goal is to complete the rest of the hike to Katahdin then return to Hemlock Hollow and complete those miles and my Appalachian Trail thru hike.

I am choosing to drive the 633 miles and a 10 hour road trip to Tri-Cities Regional Airport on Thursday morning; this local airport is the closest rental car drop-off point to Damascus, and it also means that I can spend a day (or two, depending on when I leave to join the boys) with Tie Dye and Obie.  I haven’t seen Obie since she left Neels Gap with Turtle on March 21st and it will be great to see her again and catch up in person.  It will be the first time all three of us will have been together in around six weeks – crazy.

After my Damascus merriment I’ll take a shuttle to join Danny and the lads on the trail and start hiking the Virginia trail – the longest part of the entire AT, 550 miles of it.