Fresh Grounds

Flowers beginning

We have been hearing stories of the trail angel named Fresh Grounds since Georgia, but we hadn’t managed to catch up with him until his last stop on the trail. He started in Georgia setting up at a location and feeding and helping out hungry hikers. He has an “all you can eat or carry” policy meaning feel free to help yourself to what is there and take some for dinner as well if you’d like. Continue reading

An Aptly Named Thunder Mountain

Spring is starting

The 6th was the rainiest day since we started the trail, and by the time we got to the shelter we were soaked, despite our rain gear. Fortunately the shelter was a very large, and very nice shelter. The Bryant Ridge Shelter had two stories of sleeping space, plus a lower area for cooking, eating, and in this case: hanging clotheslines to dry out clothing. The shelter had space for 20 people, and was full. This was just the first in several days of forecast rain, so we weren’t sure what would happen since all the shelters we would be coming to in the next few days only slept 6 people. Continue reading

Dragons Teeth, Four Pines Hostel, and The Home Place

Climbing down from Dragons Tooth

Got an early start and did our best to do a 17 mile hike very quickly. If we didn’t make it to the Four Pines Hostel in Catawba by 3:30pm it was pretty unlikely we would be able to get a ride to the Post Office before it closed. Then we would be stuck with a convenience store resupply or have to wait until after the weekend for the Post Office to be open again. As things turned out we actually made pretty good time, until we got to Dragons Tooth. We had decided to take the short side trail to see the “teeth” as this rock formation is called. It is two large rocks that protrude vertically from the ridge, and do look quite like a couple of large teeth. Continue reading

A Lesson About Buffets

heart rock

We headed into Pearisburg for a resupply and planned to take a half day rest before heading out the next day. As we walked towards the town, Christy was limping a little because her foot had started acting up earlier that afternoon. We knew that town was close (about a mile), so we didn’t even have our thumbs out to hitch a ride in (the road was pretty low traffic anyhow), but as we were walking down the hill, a red pickup drove by, then backed up and offered us a ride into town. They were nice enough to drive us to the hotel and saved Christy a lot of limping! Continue reading

The Barn

near atkins va

Since towns are not often directly on the trail (though a few are, like Hot Springs and Damascus), hitchhiking is a common way to get into and out of town. Today we had one of our luckiest hitches – we needed to get to the post office in Atkins, but we were a little confused at the layout of the trail in comparison to the landmarks we were expecting, so we weren’t sure which direction to head on the road to get to the Post Office.
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Pizza Delivered to the Trail

new shoes

We debated whether to go all the way to the Partnership shelter or camp a few miles before, but we knew that not far from the Partnership shelter (a large, 2 story shelter with a nice porch area and, in a year warmer than this one, solar heated showers) was a Park Visitor Center, where they had a land line phone for hikers to use – often to order pizza! Continue reading

The Grayson Highlands

Featured

white mountain

While we have yet to see any bear, we knew our chances to see our largest wildlife yet would be pretty good just a couple days out of Damascus as we hit Grayson Highlands State Park. The park is open meadow and rolling hills with herds of wild ponies that roam the area. We were headed to a shelter for lunch when we passed over a hill and saw a pony walking slowly towards us along the trail, eating the tall grass beside the path. We were careful to be quiet and not disturb it as we took out our camera to take pictures before moving on to the shelter. The pony showed little interest in us and even less fear at our presence, but we didn’t know how little fear the ponies had of people until later that day. Continue reading

A Marathon to Damascus

tennessee virginia state line

There is nothing like bad weather to motivate a hiker, as we found out. As we were planning our stops to get in to Damascus, we realized that it was a Saturday when we would arrive in Damascus, and the Post Office there would only be open until 11:00. This meant that in order to get there before it closed, we would have to get pretty close to Damascus the night before and meaning that with some minor delays we’d had, we’d have to do 27 miles the last day, much longer than we’d done before. Continue reading

An AT Pandemic, Forest Fires, and A Lost Dog

early spring landscape

We’ve been hearing rumors and reports from many people about a lot of hikers getting sick with the same virus – the symptoms being described to us by those that got sick as “the worst case of food poisoning in my life.” Rumors abound in this sort of situation, and we have to pick through them to the most credible information, but the likeliest scenario is that someone picked up this virus and hiked into one of the shelters before developing the symptoms. Then they got sick, passing it on to others at the shelter who hiked a day before getting sick, and thereby spreading it on to other shelters. The word is that it goes from Hot Springs up to Damascus. Continue reading