Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Mile 1716.6 - Day 114

Hello from Damascus, VA, a very hiker-friendly town we walk through. We are at mile 1716.6!!! We are merely 3.7 miles from the end of Virginia and the beginning of Tennessee, but I'm going to pretend we are done and just give you the summary of Virginia prematurely.
So wow, I never realized how much it rains in VA in September. VA is 548 miles and we spent 30 days here. It rained for at least 13 of those days. I don't mean rained all day or night, but it rained a good bit. As our good friend Paul/Second Nature says, "some people hike in the rain, and some people just get wet." We hike in the rain and get wet in the process. Oh well. It's all part of trail life. At least the water sources have been flowing, even if it's muddy ...

We never did get those Virginia blues everyone talks about. I just think there's a lot of variety and good stuff in VA. I will say that somewhere in central VA, I did get in a funk. I think it has something to do with the fact that we've walked more than 1700 miles and I am tired. The funk didn't last more than a day or two, although I am still tired!!

Before I describe the last 7 days and 166 miles of southwest VA, here is the overall summary of VA:
548 miles
30 days
15 nights in a tent (that we set up in the shelter because Deal still has a fear of snakes & spiders in shelters)
5 nights in a shelter (it took some convincing)
6 nights in a bed/bunk
8 showers
1 hitchhike
2 iPod days
9 silver AT markers in the ground
1 fall for Steadee
15 dig-a-hole poops in the woods for Deal, 1 for Steadee (again, to clarify, I use the privies.)
42 deer
8 bear
2 snakes (one that was 5 feet long and on the trail!)
4 turtle
As for trail magic, I'm disappointed to report practically none. I say "practically none" because we did have friends bring us magic and send us magic, but there were no roadside coolers (and Deal does not count water caches as magic)! We did meet a section hiker who gave us some snacks and 3 weekenders who gave us extra snacks they were carrying, so that was nice!

As for Southern VA, it has been awesome (if you ignore the rain factor). Pretty flat and fast for us, although we've been spending more time at 4,000 feet and above. Just the other day, we noticed some leaves changing colors!

We hiked through Grayson Highlands State Park, where Mount Rogers, the highest point in VA is. It's a really pretty area and we went through a lot of highland meadows. There are a bunch of feral ponies that roam that area, but unfortunately, the weather was crappy when we went through and I think the ponies were hunkering down! So we didn't see any!

Now cattle, on the other hand, we have seen plenty! Sometimes we even get a message from
Fire Marshall in the cowpiles. And every once in awhile, we stop to fill our water bottles with milk!

The forest in southwest VA changes almost every hour. We have been walking through groves and groves of rhododendron. I would love to see these things in full bloom, but we are too late for that. Still very pretty.

The forest always smells so good to us, but through most of VA, we've been smelling a lot of ramp. It's some kind of onion/garlic plant & I guess we could be adding it to our dinners. But, I still can't identify it ... I just smell it. Guess it's better-smelling than our body odor!

One other unique thing we did in southwest VA, we slept in an 1894 schoolhouse!
Last, but not least. Remember I
told you about a fellow SOBO we caught up to, Fern Toe. Well, she often writes songs in the shelter log books. Her latest song was dedicated to me!
Now we are onto Tennessee! Our 11th state! 464.4 miles left! People say "oh, you're almost done!" But it's still 464.4 miles people!!!! I wonder if our feet and legs have 464.4 miles left in them ...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Deal's Bday Maildrop

Lots of people have been asking where they can send something (for example, home-baked goods) for Deal's 35th birthday on October 6. Cell service has been crappy, so I'm sorry for the delay. Here's the best place to send something (baked goods):

Justin La Vigne
C/O Bob Peoples
1278 Dennis Cove Road
Hampton, TN
Please hold for SOBO Thru Hiker - ETA Sept. 30

Since everyone is always going on and on about how skinny we look (a section hiker told Deal he looked like he was on crack the other day), I thought it would also be fun to describe what we eat so you can see we ARE eating!! Yes, we are still always hungry, but we are eating as much as we can carry!

Breakfast (anywhere from 6:15-7:30)
Deal usually eats 2 honey buns & a cold oatmeal (don't knock it until you try it)
Steadee likes to switch it up & will eat some sort of pastry (mini muffins, coffee cakes) and/or cold oatmeal

Second Breakfast (occurs about 2-3 hours after we start hiking)
We both eat some sort of protein/granola/breakfast bar and usually dried fruit or real fruit if we just came from town or find it on the trail. Sometimes Deal will eat a candy bar!

Lunch (usually by noon)
We have gone through many varieties (peanut butter, tuna, cheese), but right now we are on a nutella on bagel thins kick!! I don't think nutella will ever get old! We also snack on whatever is in our snack bag, like chips (combos are our favorite), trail mix (for me), dried fruit, gummies, etc.

Afternoon snack
Same thing ... Something from our snack bag ... The more calories the better! With the mail magic we've received, we've discovered so many new snack options, so thank you!

Dinner is anywhere from 4:30 to 6:30, depending when we get to camp. We still love our backpacker meals, but if we resupply in a town instead of getting a maildrop, we will opt for Lipton Noodle varieties mixed with chicken or tuna packets. Then we snack, snack, snack until bedtime at 7:30/8. We ALWAYS eat a full-size candy bar at night, sometimes 2 or 3!!

Being in a town is a completely different story. We load up on mega calories eating out at restaurants. It is a good thing America serves big portions!

So see people. We do eat.

FYI-there will be 1 more maildrop for the rest of our trip. It won't be until mid October, so I will post the info in another week or two.

Location:Mountain Springs Rd,,United States

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Days 95-106/Central VA

We have completed Central VA, all 227 miles! It took us 12 days.

We did stop in a few towns, mainly to resupply, shower & get a good meal, but we haven't really taken any significant "neros." We also stayed in the famous Woodshole Hostel, which our book describes as a little piece of heaven. It was definitely divine and much needed!

Anyways, Central VA has been full of surprises ...

There was, of course, the surprise of the Asian Giant Hornet. My eye socket, thankfully, has returned back to normal size. It only took 5 days. Oh, and don't be deceived by the size of the hornet in the picture below ... The one that bit me was 3 times as large!

Fire Marshall decided to spice things up with a new pair of shorts. He's channeling his inner Richard Simmons & bringing charm to the trail at the same time.

We finally caught up to this fellow SOBO, Fern Toe, who we've been trailing since Maine! She was always 1-5 days in front of us, but lately, we've seen her a lot!

There are random swings in the middle of the meadow. With all the walking we do, it's nice to take a seat here and there!

There are monuments to kids who died over 100 years ago, who may or may not haunt the shelter.

There are some massive blowdowns. Trail maintenance anyone?

There are nice privies, and some not-so-nice (but airy) privies.

We've come across random dogs with tracking devices attached to their collars. We have come to find out they are hunting dogs. This information would have been helpful BEFORE I called the owner of one of the dogs to express sympathy for losing his dog and report the location.

There are some interesting landmarks.

There are HoJos! I did not know they still were in business!

While we've had really good weather in central VA, it has gotten very chilly ... Brrrr ... We had to break out the poof jackets! And Fire Marshall has started making fires again. It was 39 degrees one morning! PS-we slept in that gazebo that is in the picture.

There was a big oak tree.

We have to walk over a million of these things in central VA & we are NOT in our happy place when we do.

Wildlife has been somewhat boring. We are still seeing lots of deer, but not so many bear.

We climbed some big peaks and saw some impressive views.

Last, but not least, Rambo/Van came to visit! He hiked with us for 2 days, brought us cake that his lovely wife made (we shared with other hikers at a hostel) and moonshine (of course)!

Now onto the last bit of VA ... "ONLY" 600 miles left of the whole trail!