WOAHHH!!! I made it to Damascus, Virginia on Thursday! Many consider this the 1/4 mark of the trail, even though it is about 100 miles short of it. It's the physiological 1/4 mark. Damascus is without a doubt the most famous trail town along the AT corridor. Every year it hosts, Trail Days, the largest AT festival. I'm feeling great so far, making it here has helped lift my spirits. I will be hiking in Virginia for the next 550+ miles -- which is more miles than I have hiked so far (467 miles to be exact). Looking forward, one of the trail towns comping up is Old Dominion, VA. Old Dominion is also known for the "Virginia Blues" because it's at a point where in the hike were hikers can become very home sick and the novel experience of the trail has worn off. I will be doing my best to avoid those by taking more time in towns and making sure to find new foods to eat while on trail!
This past Tuesday I had the chance to work with an AT legend, Bob Peoples. Bob is such a great person, his kindness is beyond belief. He will do just about anything for a hiker, if it means it will help them. It's not just his goodwill that makes him a legend, he is also a member of the Tennessee Eastman Hiking Club (TEHC). They are one of the 31 hiking clubs that maintains the AT. The entire length of the AT is maintained by volunteers. The TEHC maintain a 160 mile stretch of trail from Spivey Gap (Tennessee) to Damascus, VA. It has been one of my goals since the beggining of this hike to give back to the AT community and doing trail maintenance is one of those ways! Bob encourages thru-hikers to come out and work with the club during their weekly maintenance day. The section of trail I worked on was just north of Hughes Gap on the south side of Roan Mountain. We cut a switchback into the mountain side to connect it to another piece of recently cut trail. It was a great experience working with these dedicated men and women. After my day of work I was awarded the coveted TEHC Hiker Volunteer Patch. I will be coming back to Damscus in May for Trail Days. The main reason I will be heading south 200+ miles is to work the TEHC's Hardcore! Hardcore is exactly what it sounds like, two days of blood, sweat and AT dirt. TEHC gathers 50 current thru-hikers and 50 former thru-hikers and puts them to work on the trail for two days, houses and feeds them. They also guarantee that they will return you to where ever you came from!
I've spent the last hour trying to upload photos with no luck. The library computer's admin. settings won't let me, even after I tried to trick it. I apologize, this blog is more exciting with photos.