So tonight is my last night at home before heading back to the trail. It’s a little bit tough to leave home, but I’m excited to get back on the trail. The past four or so days have been amazing. Not only did I get to eat tons of awesome food, but I got to spend time with all of the awesome people in my life. As I mentioned, Friday night was my parent’s 35th anniversary celebration. My friends Megan and Bill also had their first child on Friday – she’s a beaut. And Saturday night was my friends Dan and Natalie’s wedding day. Both were truly special. I want to write more about those events, but I’ll hold off on them for now. You’ll get that post in a few days or so.
The 150 miles or so from Damascus to Pearisburg are a little bit of a blur at this point. I was pulling some of the longest days I’ve done thus far on the trip. Most days were around twenty milers, give or take a few miles. It feels good to be hauling out some longer miles, but it does take its toll on you, both mentally and physically. It’s also starting to get much hotter out there, which means I’m much sweatier and much smellier (kind of hard to do).
But besides the longer days, a few fun things stand out from my last two weeks or so of hiking. I met some cool people along the way. I’m still trying to hunt Tangy down (one of the reasons I was pulling longer days), but always great to meet new people. Greenland (see picture below), Hotshot, Wash, and Boo Bear were probably the people I hung out with most on this leg of the journey. Greenland wanted a picture of us before I hopped off the trail. I think I’m getting pretty good at taking these self-photos! All my Beard Chronicle photos are selfies, and I am impressing myself with my accuracy!
Hopping off the trail for these four days puts me a little behind this new crew of friends, but I should be able to make some hay and catch them up fairly quickly. Hotshot (hilarious name by the way – she’s not as high and mighty as her name makes her sound though) is hopping off the trail for a quick return home in a few days, so I should be able to catch her up fairly easily, although she hauls like crazy.
I completed my longest day so far on the trail during this leg – 29 miles. I must say, I was pretty drained at the end of the day. But there is a reason I walked 29 miles in the first place. And yes, the reason is food, specifically pizza! I wish I had taken a picture of this pizza, because it was the hardest I’ve ever worked to get a meal. There’s this shelter that is right next to a park visitor center. And the trail angels at the visitor center are nice enough to put a phone outside along with a big binder of restaurants that will deliver to the visitor center for hikers. Obviously, this is big news for hungry, tired hikers, so everybody knows about this place. I had originally planned on doing only about 18 miles that day, but the call of the pizza was just too strong. I found myself picking up the pace throughout the day as the small thought of pizza in the back of my head eventually consumed all my brain power. I was pretty much a zombie by the end of the day, but the pizza was well worth it. I ate all but two slices for dinner, and the final two made a nice little breakfast in the morning. Yes, disgusting, but disgusting in the most delicious way possible. Pizza Quest 2013 was a grand success.
I hiked a day or so in the Grayson Highlands, where there are these “wild” ponies all over the place. I did not have too extensive of a conversation with them since I didn’t see a ton of them. And the ones I did see either ran away from me, or tried to eat me, and I ran away from them. This crazy guy was the first one I saw. Right when he saw me, he walked right up and just started attempting to eat anything on or around my body. It was unreal. I tried to feed him some grass, but he didn’t want that. He just wanted to eat my shirt. At that point, I decided I’d rather keep my shirt and I kind of ran away from him as I kept the rabid beast at bay with my hiking pole. It was all quite amusing, but not what I was expecting from the ponies in the park. Boo Bear encountered the same pony an hour or so prior to me, and it did the same thing to him. He got a great video of it all though as he ran away from the creature. Someone might need to put that horse down, he’s a man eater.
It’s late now, just hit midnight. My plan of an early sleep tonight was foiled by my lack of energy earlier in the day. I need to wake up in a few hours to get on the road. My past two days of partying caught up with me today (especially last night at the wedding – things got a little too crazy, but I think I crushed the dance floor), so apologies if this post is somewhat lacking in creativity and overall entertainment value. The civilized life has blunted my mind, so I’m excited to become an unkempt and free thinking hiker once again.
As I mentioned, I’ll have another blog post in a few more days. I want to share some thoughts on all the awesome events that happened over the past few days after I’ve given it all a few days to sink in. Check out the plants and animals page and the Beard Chronicles as well. We got another bearded man up on there now – the Steve!
Have fun all, I’ll talk to ya soon!
Edit/Addition: A couple of things I failed to mention. In Damascus, the day before I left, we partied in some Mexican food restaurant – but the funny thing is is that it was closed. The reason they were closed is because a few brothers own it and they were just hanging out and partying in there. Somehow, Party got us in and we just hung out for a couple hours with these three completely bombed dudes (they went golfing earlier).
And the other thing is that although my father has stopped calling me Chef Boyardee, I cooked up some awesome pizzas at the Woods Hole Hostel the night before I returned to Mt Laurel. This hostel is pretty awesome. Every night, they have a communal meal in which all the participants do some prep work for the meal. So I was the chorizo and pepperoni cutter and the cheese man. I was dropping some awesome culinary terms – “so… should I cut this pepperoni on a bias?”