So, while I’m all chest-beating about my 20.8, it turns out the cool kids were all doing 25, 27.5. 😆 And my critical brain is all beating me up because they’re also hiking out tonight (in the rain), not zeroing tomorrow (so: “i suck i suck i suck”). As though this group is the last group to come through Damascus, and I’m the caboose!

Then my other brain gently points out that (1) I’ve moved up about 400 numbers in line, (2) there are PLENTY of hikers behind me, (3) town always shuffles the deck, and (4) half of these hikers will quit in Virginia. Plus, after the scare on the Humps, I want good weather on Mt Rogers and for the ponies. (The weather was abysmal last time, which is why the ponies stayed hidden. In fact, it was Hump weather—hiking in ankle-deep water while the blasting wind blew my pack cover clean off.)

I made some gear adjustments:
• Sent home my pants. I picked up some lightweight tights to wear under my wind pants if it gets cold again, and up north. I also have rain pants. Saves me probably 5 ounces.
• Sent home my long-sleeve shirt, which is huge on me (and thus heavier and bulkier than necessary). Picked up a short-sleeve sleep shirt, and I’ll use my old sleep shirt (long sleeve) to hike in, if necessary. Saves probably 3 or 4 ounces.
• Sent home some ‘nice to have’ and ‘just in case’ stuff. Some of it was helpful, but I need to trim trim trim.
• Got my 3-ounce bug pants in my resupply, along with fresh shoes and socks.
• Relplaced one pair of heavier socks with lighter-weight ones. (I wear double socks.) The heavier ones were old and too thick. They wouldn’t dry.
• Sent home my ‘town’ socks. I was only keeping them until it was warm enough to wear just flip-flops.

I decided to keep the flip-flops. I need to rig a way to hang them on my pack. (It’s a 50 liter, and the 10-degree bag fills it. Bulk is my big issue.)

If I’m feeling brave, I’m going to sew a couple of zipties to the hem of my rainfly so I can guy it out in that one place where the design is deficient and the fly sags into the tent wall. I wanted some kind of tiny grommet, but I think I can work with the zipties. Or maybe some little loops of cord, but that’s a fussier solution. I’ll decide tomorrow.

Got my new shoes to replace my old holey ones! Thank you, shoes that were beat a hundred miles ago! (Yes, those shoes in the pic all started out exactly the same.)

The laundromat here, like the one in Hot Springs, has closed.

I put half my resupply into the hiker box and bought a bunch of cookies. And peanut butter, which I spoon right out of the jar at about 500 calories a pop. Oh… there’s no scale here, but I don’t think I’ve lost more than a pound or two, based on how my pants are fitting. My shorts are a bit too loose, but I decided I can live with it. I’m not anticipating any more “big” weight loss.

And that’s it, I think! I’m one-quarter finished. Saturday starts a new hike—a hike that consists entirely of Virginia. (After the southern PCT, the length of Virginia doesn’t bother me even a little, lol.)


Welp… by 9 this morning I was chomping down eggs and OJ. 😀

Hikers Inn is great. Home for the next day and a half!


Mile 465.2—Bush camp [20.8 miles]
Wednesday, April 24

BOOM! 😀 First 20!

It’s completely meaningless, of course. I’m still getting into Damascus tomorrow morning and spending Thursday and Friday there. But psychologically? BOOM! In fact, there was a terrific campsite at 19.9, and I decided to push on for the 20. Then I didn’t find anything for a while, and I was moving so fast I was afraid I’d get all the way into town. lol.

It was just good terrain. And I’m headed into town, so the food weight is at its lowest. And frankly, at 13 miles I didn’t think I could make 16 because I was beat. So I decided to listen to my iPod… and the music got my feet rolling! I was jacked! Can’t use that superpower every day, though. Tomorrow starts Virginia, which is a challenge. I need to use the superpowers sparingly so they stay super.

I thought I found a couple of ticks on me, but after a freakout and an embarrassingly thorough tick check right on the trail, and after a few more of them showed up, I realized they’re some kind of weird Tennessee flying beetle that looks tickish. I’ll still be glad to get my clothes sprayed tomorrow. It’s definitely bug season here.

Today was hot and sunny and nothin’ but walking. I saw a lot of old friends, and met some new ones. The bubble is converging on Damascus because the weathet’s supposed to get ugly tonight and tomorrow.

So: Virginia border in the early morning, then Damascus, then Saturday Mt. Rogers, then I guess Sunday is… PONY DAY. Pony Day Redux.

I thought I found a couple of ticks on me, but after a freakout and a few more of them, I realized they’re some kind of weird Tennessee flying beetle that looks tickish. I’ll still be glad to get my clothes sprayed tomorrow.

For now, excuse me while I eat everything good that’s left in my food bag, and waste phone battery like crazy, and stay up late. Because I don’t have to get up early tomorrow. It’s just a five-mile stroll to the diner. 😁