Since I have almost completed one-third of the trail, am taking a day off, and, therefore, have no news to report from the trail itself, I thought a day of reflection was in order. When I began this adventure exactly 50 days ago, I set some mini goals. I wanted to first get to Neel Gap, then to the Smokies followed by Hot Springs, Erwin, and Damascus. I kept telling myself, “Get to Virginia, and you’ll be OK.” So now that I’m over 200 miles north of Damascus, I couldn’t feel better mentally. At this moment I’m about as positive as I’ve ever been that I can accomplish my goal and finish this thru hike of the Appalachian Trail.
And after a solid eight hours of sleep, when I don’t think I moved all night, I feel physically fresh again as well. The threatening skies outside my motel room window can’t even deter from how good I feel right now. Plus speaking of weather, the next three days are calling for sunny skies and cool daytime temps. Those are forecast to be followed by two sunny, much warmer days. Whatever the weather, I’m already eager to hike tomorrow.
Earlier today I went to Bojangles for breakfast and also visited the outfitter for a replacement bucket for the shaft that was replaced yesterday. Leki offers a lifetime warranty, so I used their guarantee on a bent pole. After arriving back at the motel, I sat in the lobby for a long time chatting with Navigator and Airborne. An army vet, Airborne had gone through OCS at Ft. Benning during the Vietnam era. He had planned to hike as far as a college reunion in Maryland, but is having foot issues.
While we were conversing, Trucker and a couple of other hikers that I had not met arrived. Pfeiffer also showed up before I left. Bidding them all farewell, at least until I see them on up the trail, I walked across the road to a different motel. I needed an upgrade on accommodations, which I definitely have. The mom and pop type of motel was OK in Bland and Pearisburg; however, in a bigger city like Daleville, I felt like something nicer.
Speaking of towns and rooms, it appears that quite a few other hikers are becoming aware of my strategy. I made it no secret from the start that I would utilize every bed and restaurant I could find. If you were unaware of this tactic, read two of my prep entries entitled, “Where Do We Eat?” and “Where Do I Sleep?” Every thru hiker has a method. For me it’s trying to sleep in the woods as seldom as possible. For some it’s the exact opposite. I am finding many others who are fully utilizing the shuttlers. Some shuttle drivers are virtually busy all day.
Recently in Pearisburg, I told Mr. Gigglefits and Paisley (two of my favorite young folks on the trail….you need to hear him laugh and see her smile) that I had finally spent another night in the woods at the Chestnut Knob Shelter. Paisley said I couldn’t count that because it was a fully enclosed shelter with a door. If that’s the case, I haven’t slept in the woods since the Smokies, but I’ve walked past every white blaze. The phrase “Hike Your Own Hike” is one that is often heard on the AT. I’m definitely hiking mine.
So today, like so many over the past 50 days, is a good day. It’s a good day to rest, a good day to write, a good day to catch up on emails and texts with friends, and a good day to watch baseball. Tomorrow, however, I’ll venture out again as I continue my pursuit of a completed thru hike on the spectacularly beautiful Appalachian Trail.