Hiking in and out of Spring

After John left the Trail, I took an hour shuttle ride down to Newport VA, mile 675 from the southern terminus at Springer GA. Started hiking solo. Hiked 120 miles these past 11 days. Ten+ miles a day is a modest pace for an old guy. Somedays I’ll hike 15, others only 6-7,usually depending on the weather. Young “kids” typically hike 20+ miles a day.

Homer shuttled me down to mile 675. He is a well known local AT celebrity who is now 72 years old. When he was 60, he and his wife and their 10 and 11 year old children all competed a one season through hike on the AT.

One of the best parts of hiking these past two weeks has been the daily sight of coming in and out of Spring scenery. Typically, each day you climb up and down at least two “mountains”. The “gaps” or lower elevations are about 1000-2000 ft. Mountain peaks are currently 3500-4400 ft. As I climb, trees are just budding up high. In the gaps, everything is in full bloom. I’m also hiking South and days are passing by. I suspect in a few days mountain peaks will be in full bloom as well.

My hiking friend Jan joined me for four days on trail. One of those days we were hiking through several miles of trail where there had been a “controlled burn” just the day before. All the ground cover was black. None of the trees themselves were damaged at all. Rangers assured us that this was good for forest ecology.

By the end of the day, we left the burn area and camped at Dismal Falls”.

Every four days or so I’ve been sleeping at a hiker hostel. These are inexpensive (typically $20 a night) bunk beds where you can also get a hot shower and clean your clothes. Each hostel has its own “vibe”.

Some offer message chairs:

This one had more of a “party feel”:

This place was a great hostel with yoga/meditation flavor:

My night yesterday at the Bear Garden Hiker Hostel was hosted by Bob and Bertie. He is a retired high school science teacher and she’s a retired ICU nurse from Michigan. They decided to open a new hostel on the AT this year as part of their mission committment:

Here’s some more picture highlights of the past two weeks:

Hiked a few days with Rhino. A great guy from Stuttgart Germany. He hiked most of the AT last season and plans to complete his hike this year:

Typing this blog post from Durham NC. Just came off trail, rented a car and drove three hours to spend the weekend with Bob and family. Bob is graduating from Duke University Physician Assistant Program this weekend! Congrats Bob, we’re all very proud of you.

Nice to get a little hiking break for a couple of days. I do feel like I’m finally getting into hiker “shape “. It definitely takes a good 3-4 weeks. I miss family and friends from home and work. Days go by quickly though and soon I’ll be back in Cooperstown.

Thanks for following along.