On March 23, 2011 I will begin an approximately 2,181 mile walk traversing the entire length of the Appalachian Trail from Springer Mountain in northern GA to Mt. Katahdin in Maine. See y'all when I get back!
Well, I've hiked 617 miles of the Appalachian Trail and I'm ready for a break. I spent the past week at Woods Hole Hostel, a self-sustainable homestead in the VA hills outside of Pearsiburg, and thought about whether or not I wanted to leave the trail. The past few weeks have been tough mentally and I seem to have lost the thru-hike spark. I decided to travel home to see Alex and recharge my batteries. I took a bus from Christiansburg,VA to Washington, DC. Then caught q flight home from DC. I spent the night at the airport Sunday night and flew home Monday morning... It's good to be home! I'm enjoying the comforts of civilization but already missing my life on the trail. I'm hoping to be back in the woods sometime in July or Aug and will be deciding on whether or not to flip-flop and head south from Maine or continue where I left off in VA. I'd like to see the northern section of the trail and I'm hoping the weather may cool off if I wait a bit. We'll see what happens. For now I'm enjoying my time at home.
5/28 Over the past week I've been having a lot of trouble making any big miles. I've been SO tired and finally realized that I must be coming down with something. Sure enough I'm now fighting off a bad cold. It's been very difficult to climb mountains with my lungs congested. I was forced to hike only 4.5 mi on Wed. to the top of Chestnut Knob. I barely made it up to the remote shelter on a sweltering morning. I laid around all day and rested. This spot over looks Burkes Garden, which was the original proposed site of the Vanderbilts Biltmore Estate. It's a huge crater surrounded by a ridge which the AT follows for 8mi. The sunset was amazing and I spent the evening qt the shelter with a good group of hikers. We all chipped in random items from our food bag and made a BIG group feast. Just what I needed after a dismal night and day of being sick. I felt a little better the next Koenig and decided to try and hike into Bland, VA. I made it to a road crossing approx. 6.5mi short of Bland and caught a ride from Krinkle Root, a hiker from Chicago who was doing a section hike. She had a car at the trailhead and shuttled a few of us to the Big Walker Motel at the I-77 interchange in Bland. I'm resting up at the motel and trying to let my cold clear up. I'm extremely unmotivated right now and have been having a hard time finding the will to keep going lately. I'm hoping it will pass and I'll be able to continue on to Harpers Ferry. I miss home but I'm not ready to leave the home yet. I could sure use some encouraging comments and the blog to get my spirits back up again!
5/22 I hiked into Partnership Shelter at the Mount Rogers Vistors Center and had only one thing on my mind. PIZZA!!! The local pizza joint delivers right to the shelter! Once I got to the shelter I realized there was a highway nearby. So, I stuck out my thumb hoping to find a ride into a REAL town. Hopefully with a Taco Bell! I haven't even seen a Taco Bell since I left home. A real nice young guy named Cody picked me up, drove me to Taco Bell, and then brought me all the way back to the trail head again. It was the best hitch I've had yet! I ended up staying the night at Partnership Shelter and even ordered a Pizza for dinner! I just can't get enough food these days!
Last week I was fortunate to have encountered two hiker feeds being hosted by local churches. The first was in Troutdale, VA at the Troutdale Baptist Church. The local blue haired ladies all brought their covered dishes and we had a HUGE feast. It was incredible. I didn't even mind the fire and brimstone sermon afte rthe meal. It was a little awkward being fed a delicious meal and then being told by your host that you're GOiNG TO HELL! Despite the over zealous preacher, I was very appreciative of the kindness shown by the people of his congregation. This area also turned out to be the home of one of my favorite guitar pickers, E.C. Ball, who lived his whole life in Rugby, VA. It's also the home of Wayne Henderson who makes Henderson Guitars. One of the most sought after acoustics in the world! I wanted to stay in the area for the whole summer and seek out all of the local bluegrass pickers. I'll bet there are some great pickin parties around there!!!
5/18-5/26 I've been hiking thru the first part of the Virgina Highlands over the past week. The terrain, vegetation, and wildlife have changed drastically. I'm now hiking thru rolling hills and valleys. Lots of meadows and sweeping vistas of farmland. It's beautiful! I really enjoyed seeing the wild ponies at the Grayson Highlands Park. It reminded me of my mom and dad. I've also walked thru several cow pastures and always take a minute to pause and think about my mom. I miss her...