Sunday, 4/26

AT Miles = 9.4 / 472.4
Other Miles = 0.2 / 20.3
Total Miles = 9.6 / 492.7

As wonderful as being in town is, it is even better to get back out on the trail. I think I have said this before; I don't sleep well in town. I go to sleep late and wake up early. Really early, like three or four in the morning.

Last night I went to bed after 11:00, and I was awake a few minutes after 4:00. I had to wait until a decent hour to get up and shower and pack up all my gear, for fear of waking people in the other rooms. I settled up with the proprietress around 8:00 or so, but then hung out with some ofthe other hikers out back for a while. Finally I heftede my ridiculously heavy pack, groaned, and dropped it back to the ground. Goodness! I went completely overboard at the grocery store yesterday. I could barely cram my food bag into my pack. I took the pack off and put it on the bathroom scale that is in the hiker hosxtel. 43 pounds! That's 4 pounds more than it weighed on the day I started, and I've gotten rid of a few things since then. That weight is all food! I am going to have to have a big feed tonight and get the reduced as fast as I can.

I hiked out of Damascus, after stopping on the way for a big breakfast (food. I am obsessed with food) , along the Virginia Creeper Trail. The Creeper Trail is a rails-to-trails conversion so follows lovely, gentle grades. Unfortunately, the AT soon veers off and climbs up into the hills for a few miles, the descends back down and just to tease a poor, tired, overburdened hiker, parallels the Creeper trail at a very short distance oif only 30 or 40 feet, for a long ways. The Creeper Trail is clearly seen in its flat, even, easy gradedness, while the AT climbs up and down every stupid little bump in the terrain and hops over rocks and whatever else. So frustrating!

I set off today with no particular goal in mind. I decided I would hike to the first shelter out of town, then decide if I wanted to go on to the next or not. Well, I got here all hot and sweaty, and was greeted with a lovely setting with a small grove of evergreens out behind the shelter casting some wonderfully cool shade. After walking down to the stream to get water and to wash up a bit, I strung my hammock up in the shade and lay down on top of it to read my book and sway in the cool breeze.

Soon enough I fell asleep and awoke only when another hiker walked by on her way back from getting water. It's a good thing I woke up or I might have slept right until bed time!

Well, that hiker and a couple of others were here just to get water and have moved on, but I've decided to definitely indulge myself and am staying here for the night. Tomorrow is soon enough for ambition, when I will push the 18+ miles to Thomas Knob and the Grayson Highlands. I asm excited that the weather should be good when I am up there; so unlike mhy experience so far with the high parts of the trail. I am looking forward to seeing the ponies at Grayson Highlands State Park.

Another hiker, Midget Momma (she's short and says she has a son who is 6'4") just showed up, so I guess I wonm't have the place all to myself tonight. And I know there are a bunch of hikers who planned to leave town late this afternoon and hike, so I imagine there will be more coming later.

I look forward to town stops so much, but they are exhausting! I am always surprised how tired I am when I leave town. This evening looks to be a lovely one, and I am sure I will have a restful night tonight and be ready to do some real hiking tomorrow.

Allen Freeman