16.1 miles, 38,578 steps, 399 stories climbed
493.7 miles, 1,319,436 steps, 12,990 stories climbed
Trail Magic Moments: 21
So today started with a nice breakfast at the Woodchuck Hostel. Orange juice and waffles to start the day and I bought some strawberries at the grocery store to add to the meal. A nice way to start the day but the time always comes to get a move on.
The trail went all the way through the town from end to end. On the far end of town the trail followed what used to be the railroad and they converted it to a trail. It was pretty flat and easy until I turned into the woods.
I was the first one out of the gate with everyone wanting a late easy start out of town. I didn’t see too many people throughout the day.
Most of the day the trail followed a river. There was another trail called the Virginia Creeper Trail that went right next to the AT except it skipped all the uphills. It was a bike path that many people were out using.
A portion of the AT ended up on the Creeper trail thanks to a bridge being washed out. A small detour. There was also a nice skull on top of one of the AT trail signs.
Not too far from the shelter I ran across a very nice family doing some trail magic. The eldest daughter was doing a project for her college class where she had to go someplace she’s never been and she chose the AT.
So her, her parents and her two younger brothers were making food and asking questions about the trail. I got there as they were setting…perfect timing. Two grilled cheese sandwiches, a hot dog, a brownie, potato chips, a Swiss roll and 2 sodas…they were happy to feed me.
The parents were home schooling the younger kids and also have a house in Damascus that they were thinking about turning into a hostel. They are also talking about doing a cross country trip in their RV to different national parks. The oldest son also wants to be the youngest person to thru-hike the AT and his parents seemed very supportive in helping him achieve that goal. I think that is pretty awesome!
Now, here is the difference between a thru-hiker and a section hiker. When they saw me they asked if I was hungry and I asked, not knowing I was the first customer, if any hiker had ever said no to that question.
About a half hour later 4 section hikers, who were on there first day of hiking, turned down the trail magic. About the same time I noticed a thru-hiker walking across the road with her headphones on. I called out to her “Beaker!” She turned her head, noticed the trail magic and just headed on over and started scarfing down on food and answering hiker questions.
With the threat of thunderstorms coming it was time to hike on. I thanked the family and moved on. The shelter was just over a mile away. When I got to the shelter the section-hikers were there chopping firewood.
A bit later Failure, Deer Dog and Smasher came along as well. We all ate our food and started setting up our sleeping bags and such. The trail magic family decided to hike to the shelter to see what it was like as well.
This shelter has a very interesting feature in that the composting privy has writing on it. Instead of having the usual toilet humor someone took the time to inscribe Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax on the walls, why not, he does speak for the trees.
I also realized that today was actually day 36 of my vacation, which officially makes this my longest vacation ever. I’ve been lucky enough to have two 35 day vacations, one for the Camino de Santiago and the other a trip to India, Thailand and a brief visit to Cambodia to see Ankor Wat (crossed off a high on my bucket list item with that one). I’ve been very fortunate to be able to travel such and I’ll make sure I do what I can to continue to be able to travel (and hopefully drag Maria along with me!!!)
Now, fat and fed, I’m just watching the roaring fire for a bit before the last lingering light from the sun fades away and it’s time to slumber.