April 16. Amy’s dad Rod arrived at the Kincora hostel this morning to hike with us. We left after our food shipment arrived and quickly taught Rod about the white blazes, double white, and blue. We passed by a great waterfall and walked along the stream for awhile on a nice trail, then it went up! For the next few hours we hiked straight up in 90 degree heat, a great intro to the AT for Rod. We hiked 5 or 6 miles and decided to camp on top of Pond Flat, which did not have a pond and really wasn’t flat. A good first day for Rod, or as he would say, “brutal”.
April 17. We woke up and hiked a few miles down into a nice park with a lake. We took a break and used the restrooms in the state park. A nice lady working there gave us the weather forecast, which turned out to be completely wrong! We hiked past the lake and back up the mountains to hit a ridge line trail. It was another tough climb. We stopped in a shelter for a bit to wait out a small rain shower. The lady at the lake said no rain for several days, she was about to be proved way wrong… After heading down a LONG side trail to fill up water we hiked on to find a dry place to camp. It rained on us but luckily it stopped long enough for us to set up our tents and have dinner. As we hung the bear bags it started again, we jumped in the tents and it poured. It poured all night…
April 18. Woke up to rain. Well, not so much rain as being in a cloud that coats the trees with water and they drip all over. We all sat in our tents and had breakfast and contemplated waiting our the rain. After sitting around for an hour Rod and I decided we would start walking and Flosser and Meat (Ryan’s trail name is now Meat) were close behind. We all packed away our soaking wet tents and gear. Wet tents are A LOT heavier than dry tents. We walked several miles to the first shelter and had lunch but we were all so wet and cold that we needed to keep moving to warm up. Rod took off out of the shelter and I followed behind. About a half mile in I stopped to water a tree and then hiked on to catch Rod. For the next several hours I hiked hard trying to catch him. I was impressed! Rod seemed to have his trail legs and was moving fast despite almost losing both of his big toenails from the previous day. I approached the next shelter, 13 miles from the start of the day, and found Meat there, with no trace of Rod. Crap. Flosser arrived too, surprised that he hadn’t caught Rod, and even more surprised to not see him there! We wondered what might have happened…he couldn’t have passed by…did he take a wrong turn…was he lost…maybe we should head back and check on him… We talked to a nice older man doing a day hike, turns out he was also a Ball State grad, three Cardinals in a shelter on the AT, Chirp, Chirp! He started back down the trail and said he would look for Rod. A few minutes later I did the same. About a quarter mile back I ran into Rod, turns out we must have passed him when he took a bathroom break or filled up water! We let him know that we typically leave our trekking poles or something near the trail to let the other guys know where we are, lesson learned! We all decided that we were so wet and cold that sleeping in the shelter would be the best idea. A long, cold, and wet 13 miles and our sleeping bags felt amazing!
April 19. A great idea to sleep in the shelter. We woke up to more fog and dripping trees and loaded up our soggy gear and sloshed out on the trail. Later in the morning the sun finally burned off the clouds and we hiked on towards Damascus. In the afternoon we crossed the TN/VA state line, 3 states down, 11 more to go! We hiked a few more miles and camped 2 miles from town. This was a big day for us, and big miles for Rod! A 16 mile day and Rod did great but said his feet were really hurting him. Meat hiked into town with another hiker for drinks and food and made it back to the tents after midnight. We also had time to dry out the gear…trail Friday tomorrow, heading into town!
Father Of The Bride
April 20. Woke up and hiked the 2 miles into town and picked up the food shipments and headed to the local coffee shop. Rod said he had a blast hiking with us but for the next few days he thought he might go find some trails on his own and set a slower pace so he could stop and smell the roses. We thought that was great because he was on vacation and wanted to enjoy nature…we however are pretty much working full time on the trail, hiking almost 8 or 10 hours each day. It is interesting to look at thru-hiking compared to normal hiking, similar but VERY different. Rod said bye as we headed to do our laundry. He said he did have fun and we really enjoyed having him with us! Flosser, Meat, and I did laundry, hitched a ride across town to an all you can eat pizza buffet, did some shopping, and headed over to a house that one of the other hikers had rented. We hung out with a whole group of hikers all night by a fire with good drinks and good stories. We fell asleep around 1 AM, Meat slept in the house in a cubby hole under the stairs and Flosser and I set out our sleeping bags on the back porch.
April 21. Woke up early because the patio had full sunshine before 7 AM. We packed our gear and headed to the coffee shop. We had a great breakfast and drug our feet getting back to the trail. The forecast called for some nasty storms in the afternoon. It would be more comfortable to stay in town another day and take a zero, but as the saying goes “No pain, no rain, no Maine”. So back to the trail it is…Happy Hiking!