Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Moving right along.

Hello everyone from Bland, VA, where the name of the town is also its best adjective. Well, at least they have a library with computers....and a supermarket.

As it is raining, and one of the members of my new party is sick, we've decided to take a zero day. We figure it will help digest all the Dairy Queen we ate last night (mmm...blizzard).
Speaking of food, I just had a fantastic meal from yet another generous church. The Methodists, who were conspicuously quiet during Trail Days, are giving the Baptists a run for their money with their all-you-can-eat breakfast, including french toast, potato casserole, sausage, oj, coffee biscuits, and a little good bag with moon pies and granola bars. It was spectacular. The Baptists are still in the lead, however, in this winner-take-all hiker help-out, but with more strong efforts like these, the Methodists can easily pull ahead.

So for the last few days I've been hiking with 3 other guys: Waffle, Tea-bag (an unfortunate trail-name) and Just Mike (an Aussie). We've been pulling out the big guns lately, never dropping below a 15 mile day, with a 22 mile hike into town last night. So we're moving right along.

The next big town is Pearisburg, where I'm sure you'll hear from me yet again!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

And I would walk 500 miles...

Aw man, I'm missing the Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals! They're going on right now, and I'm missing them!!
Oh well, they'll probably just end up losing...losers.

I just passed the 500 mile marker here and Virginia, and I'm still going strong. I'm staying at the church hostel here in Troutdale and the hospitality has been amazing yet again. The first Baptists really love hikers... much more than those second Baptists (I just googled the second Baptists, and they exist! I guess that makes sense).
Anyway, they had a huge cookout last night with burgers, dogs, salads, desserts... a lot of food. The only thing they asked in return was that we hear about what a cool cat Jesus was/is, and that we should try to find him on the trail. I'll see what I can do....

Hiking solo has been interesting. Although I'm on my own, I'm not really alone, exactly. I've been seeing a lot of the same people each night at the shelters, so I've been hiking with them on and off.
But being on my own schedule is pretty liberating. No more waiting for people to catch up, or catching up to people waiting for me. If I want to stop where I am and setup my tent for the night, I can. But Freefall, Spidey, No-amp, if you're reading this, it is not personal. It's just a nice change of pace to be alone.

Well, it looks like the sun is shining. Time to get back on the trail!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Over and Out

Well I just rolled into Damascus last night... What a neat little trail-town. Seems to have everything a hiker needs: hostels, laundry, grocery stores... Everyone's real friendly too. There also seems to be remnants of some sort of festival strewn about town. Wonder what that was all about. Oh well.
Anyway, I'm here and my shin feels fine. Actually, I put in a 25-miler last night, and while I was sore, this time it was my whole body as opposed to a small part of my leg.

So now I'm healthy and ready to hike... except that all my hiking buddies have since pushed on and are miles ahead of me. I may catch up though, we'll see. But for now I'm allll alone. I think I'll like it though--especially since I have my own schedule and can pretty much do any distance and stop anywhere I like. Also, I have my MP3 player now (thanks dad).

So now I'm leaving Damascus for real... no seriously.

Here is a photo of me that was just taken today:

Link to larger image

...and yes, that's a kilt.

Friday, May 16, 2008


So I just saw the doctor... AKA the special bone and muscle doctor... AKA the orthopedic surgeon. And the wealth of information I expected, for some reason, came to be the same stuff I've known all along: It's either a muscle sprain or a small stress fracture. He did, however, tell me that either one will heal given enough down-time...which is all I really needed to hear. But it just seems like the more doctors I see (for any problem), the more confident I feel in my own diagnoses.

So now, my plan is to get a ride back to Watauga Lake where I left off a couple weeks ago. It'll be about a 2-day hike from there back (read: forward) to Damascus, but I figure that will be a good stretch of trail to test out the shin. If there are any problems, I'll be in a town I know all too well before long.

Trail days have continued to go well. There seems to be a lot more going on now that the vendors have set up shop. I plan on getting my poles cleaned and tuned up at the Leki tent today. For free. But I'll have to make an effort not to walk around too much...if possible.

Hopefully next time I write, it will be miles away from here.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

These boots are made for...something

Well trail days is starting to pick up and hikers are filling out the town. Also, I can walk! I walked with my pack yesterday and felt fine for the most part. Granted I only went a couple miles and the terrain was a sidewalk, but I consider this a small victory.
I almost don't feel like going to my appointment tomorrow, but I will just in case it's still something serious.

The First Baptist church here in town is putting on a free dinner, so I just got my ticket for that. I'm pretty sure a hiker could stay in town this weekend and not spend a penny on food. So many people want to feed us! All sorts of vendors will be setting up today too, fixing pretty much any gear problems we may have. Should be a good time.

Other stuff:

Restaurants I want up north:
Waffle house
Any place that serves biscuits and gravy

Signs I've come across:
Slippary when wet
Shirt and Shoes Appreciated (not required--appreciated)

On one of the dryers in a laundromat:
Some gets hotter than others

Friday, May 9, 2008

Updates and Illustrates

Well, I went to see the doctor today, but it turns out I'm really no better off than I was before. I explained what happened with my shin, and she came to the same basic conclusion: It's either a sprained muscle or possibly a stress fracture...great. But she did give me some high-strength ibuprofen to reduce the inflammation even more. So if it is a muscle problem, it will probably heal faster.

She also set me up an appointment at an orthopedic center. The good news, is they will probably tell me what exactly is going on. The bad news is that it's scheduled for next Friday. So guess where I'm hanging out for the next week? Good old Damascus, VA. But on the bright side, trail days starts up tomorrow, so at least I won't be too bored. I might even volunteer... if they take me.

I scrounged up some more pictures taken by Twinkletoes.

Here is a moment on the Smoky Mountains, right before our great Gatlinburg getaway:

Here I am, beating a 12-year-old in chess back in Hiawassee. I felt pretty good about that:

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Hiking's Greatest Injuries

So here's the deal:

This past Sunday I was hiking with Freefall into the Kincora hostel in Dennis Cove, Tennessee. We were doing a fifteen mile day averaging almost 3 miles an hour. Coming into the hostel, I started to feel a pain in my shin. I wrote it off as an end-of-the-day soreness and thought nothing more of it after we arrived.
On Monday, we set out to hike another fifteen miler or so. I felt ok going up the first mountain, but coming down, the pain in my shin was back and more intense than ever. It became so acute, I was using my poles as crutches. After getting to the bottom, I had to call the hostel, and ended up getting a ride back and spending the night.
On Tuesday, I knew I'd be shored up for a while. I could barely walk, let alone hike. Long story short, I spent the next few days there, just sitting around. It was pretty frustrating watching a bunch of other hikers coming and going, and all the while, I'll I could do was lay in bed.
Finally, today (Thursday), I managed to score a ride into Damascus from FreeFall's mom (if you're reading this, thank you!). So now I'm hanging out with them at a B&B. And tomorrow, the plan is to get to the local medical center have someone check it out. Hopefully, it ends up just being a shin-splint, but there is the off-chance that it could be a stress-fracture, which would mean I'm basically done.
In any case I just yellow-blazed¹ it for 40 or so miles. But I think special considerations are made for injured hikers, so please don't tar and feather me.

So that's where I stand now. I'll try to update again after I get word from the doctor. Wish me luck!

¹ Skipped ahead. i.e. did not hike

p.s. Here is a picture of our first day. All of us find it quite funny

(click image to enlarge)