Day 65: 16 miles
This morning I woke up in my bunk at Boots Off Hostel around 6:30am. I packed up my things and talked to a few others hikers who had stayed in the hostel last night as well. Then I headed over to the kitchen area to grab some coffee and breakfast before we headed out.
My shoes were absolutely killing me yesterday at the end of the day. The heels of my topos are so sharp and worn out that they ripped holes in my socks yesterday and began to scratch at the skin on my heels.
When I put them on again this morning they were immediately rubbing my heels and causing me pain. I tried to tape my heels and fix the shoes but it wasn’t doing much. Fortunately I found a pair of shoes in the hiker box which weren’t comedically big and felt pretty comfortable. The shoes were about 1.5 sizes too big but they weren’t causing me pain. So I threw out my topos and hiked out in my used hiker box shoes! The trail provides.
As we headed out of the hostel it began to rain heavily. All of us bundled up in our rain gear and started walking. The first few miles of the day followed along a lake and had great foggy views. Then we arrived at a dam and it had stopped raining so we decided to rest there and take a quick break. It was a really beautiful spot with views of the dam and lake on one side, and views of valley below on the other side.
When we hiked out from the dam we had to do a long stretch of uphill. There was a whole lot of elevation gain which was slow going. Luckily the rain had stopped entirely at that point so I didn’t have to stay bundled in my rain gear. All of us pushed on for about 4 miles before resting at a water source part way up the climb.
I caught up to Gio, Roxy, and Sweet Pea and we waited for Spring Break and Tia to catch up too before continuing along. They are pacing a bit slower because Tia is still weening herself in to the trail and trying not to over due it. Which is definitely a good call, rather than starting off on big mile days and winding up hurt.
The rest of the day it rained on and off but never got too bad. It wound up being a pretty nice day over all. We enjoyed breaks here and there when the rain was light enough. I truly couldn’t complain. If it was pouring rain all day we might not have been able to rest at all. After taking one final break we decided to continue on and do the last handful of miles to our camp site for the night.
We hiked for another 4 or 5 miles and then arrived at Iron Mountain Shelter where we planned to stay the night. The shelter was entirely empty which was amazing news. Sweet Pea, Gio, and I all got set up inside and then began to make dinner.
In another development Gio has officially taken a trail name as well, “Boosted”. Because his dog Roxy boosts him up the trail. She loves to lead the way and is damn fast. So he gets a little boost while climbing along uphill stretches.
The three of us hung out and had a really chill night. And around 6pm Spring Break and Tia arrived as well! I was so excited that they decided to push a bit farther and camp with us. They joined us in the shelter and we all spent the rest of the night relaxing and talking.
My new hiker box shoes also treated me wonderfully today. They are way too big but luckily didn’t cause any sort of rubbing or pain today. I’m so glad that I was able to switch out my beat up topos for these random men’s shoes. It appears that they will definitely work well enough for the next 26 miles until I’m able to get my new shoes in Demascus.
Day 66: 20 miles
This morning we all slept in for a bit in the shelter because it was cold. Last night it got down to around 30 degrees and any part of your skin that wasn’t in the sleeping bag was pretty chilly. But inside my sleeping bag I was quite content.
All of us got packed up and were heading out of Double Spring Shelter by 7:45am. The start of our day was fantastic with little to no elevation gain. We were all able to cruise along and make good time. Once we were about 3.5 miles into the day we took a break at Low Gap road. A shuttle came and dropped off a bunch of hikers to do some slack packing. The driver was a hiker named Voodoo who we met at Boots Off Hostel yesterday. He is pretty eccentric and ran around the lot talking to us and doing handstands. Then he headed back to the hostel and we got back to walking.
From there the trail cruised through pastures and was incredibly open and scenic. We walked right past a barn with a large AT emblem on it and there were fantastic views in the distance.
For the next few miles the trail was super gradual and I hiked nearby Sweet Pea, Boosted, and Roxy. We were making great time and a few miles in we passed by an old AT shelter from the 1934, McQueens Knob Shelter. Considering how old it was it was actually in really great shape. Though the ATC doesn’t recommend camping inside.
After passing the old shelter we hiked for another mile or so and came to Abingdon Gap Shelter which is the new replacement shelter. The three of us decided that we were going to hike a bit further today, but before continuing on we were gonna take a nice long break. So we stopped in the shelter and cooked early dinner. In the shelter another hiker Papa Bear sat to cook with us as well. He was such a nice guy and we talked with him for a bit before heading out.
It began to rain lightly on and off but wasn’t bad enough for us to call it quits yet. After a nice long break all of us packed up and headed out. We wanted to do another 4 or 5 miles at least so that we have a short morning to get into Demascus tomorrow. Spring Break and Tia decided to do a shorter day today and they are going to get into Demascus a little bit later tomorrow.
The next few miles were pretty easy and the three of us walked together and talked a bit. I love watching Boosted’s dog Roxy run along the trail and lead the pack. It’s so cool how much she loves walking along the trail. All of us walked for another hour or so and then began trying to find a tent site to set up for the night.
The first one which we were aiming for was taken by Smoke and Holy Shit so we had to go a bit further. But not long after we found a perfect flat spot for all of us to set up. Sweet Pea did a great job trying to convince all of us to head into Demascus rather than camp. He really tried to sell us on it for sure and by god was it a bit tempting. But in the end we wound up setting up our tents and calling it a night.
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