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A little adventure update

Warning: 😀 Semi-long post.

Disclainer: 💕 Please ignore mistakes. I am in adventure mode and can't always be up to snuff with quality when time and amenities aren't always available.


Every day is an adventure if we want it to be and that's what I try to portray in this blog. We can't always be out exploring and traveling. Those times in between the really fun stuff, we can still find a journey in whatever it is that we are doing. Heck, sometimes just getting out of bed on those cold Maine winter mornings can be an adventure all by itself. But this post is about an adventure - an update on our current road trip.



Trail Log

Friday May 10, 2024

Time: 3:40pm - 9:00pm

Miles Driven: 193.0

Weather: Overcast in the 40's

Truck camped in the Kennebunkport service plaza


Nothing to see or read about the first leg of our trip. But that's the way we like our time behind a windshield. It was boring except for a nice supper at Bruce's folk's in Brewer, ME. We didn't travel far, we only made it to southern Maine where we slept in the back of our truck in a service plaza on I-95.




Trail Log

Saturday May 11, 2024

Time: 4:30am - 5:25pm

Miles Driven: 653 miles

Weather: Overcast, then rain the last hour

Stayed with Friends in Front Royal, VA


The temperature dipped to 31 degrees fahrenheit but we were snug as a bug in our new build-out. We slept surprising well. Big rigs' diesel engine rumbles lulled us to sleep and the make shift curtains I hung blocked out the street lights until they didn't. My haphazard engineering failed to withstand our tossing and turning. After a quick brisk trip inside the rest area's facilities we were back on the road headed for our friends, Steve "Wye Knot" and Lori's place in Front Royal, VA. I hiked with Wye Knot on my 2015 Appalachian Trail thru-hike. Yes, I still call him by his trail name.


We enjoyed another eventless day on the road. Traffic flowed nicely and the weather was pleasant until about an hour before reaching our destination. It seems like every time we visit Wye Knot and Lori, it rains. We need to change the time of year we come down. With the weather keeping us cabin-bound, we sat around chatting, eating, and watching old people TV - history stuff and Smithsonian shows. We were all ready for sleep by 9:00-ish. I actually feel asleep way before the rest but woke up as they all were going to bed.




Trail Log

Sunday May 12, 2024

Time: 11:00am - 7:30ish pm

Miles Driven: 312ish miles

Weather: Overcast

Elk Gardens, VA


Another easy day of driving. Well, it was easy for me, I rode shotgun and slept. We arrived at our destination - Elk Gardens, Virginia which is just outside of Damascus, VA that would eventually be our final destination for our trip. We were so excited when we arrived to see the camping area filled with tents and hammocks and a fire going already. After all, we came down for Trail Days and to rub shoulders with hiker trash. We nestled the truck on the levelest spot we could, changed gears from driving to camping, and fixed another picnic supper the best we could. The mountain's foggy misty and wind made it difficult.


One of the hikers invited us over to partake in their evening campfire. We had gone over to just say hi when we arrived but did not want to assume they too were seeking the company of other hikers. So we were thrilled when they invited us over. Noodles, Snicklefritz, and Tree Man were previous thru-hikers who were in town also for Trail Days. They came early to spread a little trail love feeding hikers.


We said good night to all the hikers. 1,200 miles on the road, cold, wind and light rain drove Bruce and I back to the truck. We climbed into our racks and fell fast alseep. But I didn't sleep long. The noise from the bed next to mine was enough to rouse the black bear temper I try to keep subdued. And the ground that seemed level enough earlier was a little cock-eyed on the higher bunk. I struggled all night to keep my mattress from listing.




Trail Log

Monday May 13, 2024

Time: 9:45am - 5:40ish pm

Miles Hiked: 11ish miles

Weather: Overcast and cool then drizzly

Elk Gardens, VA


When we finally climbed out of the truck, it was still windy and cloudy. but that's to be expected when you camp at 4,700 feet of elevtion. We were on full vacation mode and took our time waking up from the not-so-restful night. After a light hiker breakfast that consisted of a banana and breakfast bar we joined the other hikers again who restoked the fire. Not being in any hurry we lounged around the warm embers talking with the thru-hikers who were packing up to continue their journey north.


I love hiker stories. The scriest one was from a young gal who had her food stolen by a bear. I asked the judgemental question, "Did you have it hung?" She and her friend both replied with a "Yes, and a well hung PCT hang." A PCT hang is supposed to be more bear-proof than an AT hang. It was near Standing Indian so if anyone is reading this and has friends on the trail, let them know there are clear bears in that area.


After a relaxing morning around the warm fire, we excused ourselves from the host-hikers, Noodles, Tree Man, and Snicklefritz once again. We had hiking to do. Bruce's goal was to hike to see the Ponies in Grayson Highlands but that was over six miles away according to the guide book. I wasn't sure I was up for the challenge. I told him I would take it one step at a time.


With sneakers laced, packs on, and hiking poles locked we crossed VA 600, opened the gate to the cow pasture of Elk Gardens and headed up the trail. Dodging the first land-mind of soupy cow patties we ascended the meadow that looked over the valley. There we sat on a bench in memory of Chuck Hudson (1955-2005). I never pass up an opportunity to sit when a spot is provided on the trail. Even if it's only 300 yards from when I started.


The trail graciously eased us upward as the meadow gave way to the forest. In places, the forest and the meadow coexisted both thriving intermingled with each other. It was a beautiful sight. As we hiked, my stiff body from the long drive south slowly loosened up. Breaks were frequent for me. Bruce would hike ahead and wait for me.


We stopped three miles in at an opening across the valley where we could see two wild ponies off in the distance. We watched them graze then move along to meet up with two other feral friends who entered the meadow from the opposite tree line from where we were sitting.



After our snack break we continued hiking north on the A.T. until we reached Thomas Knog Shelter a little over a mile away. We advanced a little further to see if I could remember where I camped when I hiked through in 2017. No luck remembering it. Everything looked different. So we back tracked to the shelter for lunch.


As we approached the shelter, I fell. And I fell hard. My phone and water bottles launced from my pack as I yelled in pain when I struck the dirt. Not moving, sprawled out on all fours I did a body check. Nothing hurt too badly. I confirmed I didn't strike my head. Bruce retrieved my flung items and I inspected limbs, knees, fingers, and wrists. Only a little skinned knee and a sore left thumb-wrist area. It could have been so much worse.


Bruce helped me to the picnic table where I gained my composure and we feasted on hiker food. With appetites satisfied we donned out packs for the hike back out. On the way up we passed a trail junction for Mt. Roger's Summit, Virginia's highest point. Bruce suggested we go there since we were so close, but I was adamant I was not going, not after the fall I had taken a quarter mile back. From the junction to the summit was only 0.5 miles but that would have made a mile round trip and that was still 4 miles from the truck. When we reached the junction, I told him to go ahead, I was hiking out. Off he went up and off I continued out.


Ten minutes later my stubbornness kicked in. A voice in my head yelled at me to not wimp out. Then another voice reasoned it was to late to turn around. I ignore the second voice, did an about-face and hiked back to the junction. After all, it was only half a mile. I met Bruce coming down but he went back to the summit with me. There was no jaw-dropping view, but rather a dense spruce forest with moss covered trees and two rock spots each with a geological survey marker we assumed was the summit.  I am so glad I changed my mind, pulled up my big-girl pants and grabbed that high-peak for Virginia.


Eight hours from the time we started our hike we made it back to the Elk Gardens hiking about 11 miles. No records being set, but it was a fabulous day on trail. That evening we battled the wind and misty fog as we ate on the tailgate of the truck before joining the hikers for the evening around the fire before going to bed.





Trail Log

Tuesday May 14, 2024

Time: 7:30am - 9:30ish pm

Miles Hiked: 3.8ish miles

Weather: Foggy, cool and drizzly

Elk Gardens, VA




We did a quick moring stretch down a horse trail for something different then when that became too over-grown we went back to the cow pasture and followed a blue-blaze trail until our turn-around time. With the rainy weather we decided to cut our hiking short and head back to town. Our last shower was Friday and it was time to freshen up. We left the cloudy wet mountain in the hands of the thru-hikers and trail angels. We made our way down the curvy road to Damascus where we ran some errands before heading a couple town over to Bristol to a hotel. Hot shower and comfy beds were on our agenda.





Trail Log

Wednesday May 15, 2024

Time: 2:00am - 5:00ish pm

Miles Hiked: (Me) 5.6ish (Bruce) 7.25

Weather: Cloudy, warm, then drizzle

Damascus, VA A.T. south


Taking full advantage of the hotel, we slept in and had a hot breakfast. Then we ran a quick errand to Home Depot for items to set up our vendor tent. Back to Damascus we drove to check out the location of our vendor tent for Trail Days then we headed to the trail. It was all up hill. Soon into the woods I told Bruce to go ahead and hike at his pace. I am much slower than he is. I slowly climbed up and up breaking often. Bruce flew up the trail making it to the Tennesse/Virgina border before the agreed upon turn around time. With less than a half a mile before existing the woods on the return trip, Bruce caught up to me. We began the hike together and ended together but the in between was solo.


This section of the Appalachian Trail is so sweet. Probably one of the easiest on the whole A.T.




Rain began before we reached the truck. The initial plan was to set up our vendor canopy tent in our spot but with the rain and thunder rumbling, we decided to forego that task until the next day. Back to the hotel we went for one last night of luxury before slumming it with the rest of the hiker trash for Trail Days.






Trail Log

Thursday May 15, 2024

No Hiking

Vendor tent set up


We spent Thursday setting up our sales tent and walking around Damascus. We came early to Virginia to get some hiking in but the real reason was to attend Trail Days - the largest A.T. festival in the world. People come from all over the world to attend this wild and crazy event. Music, food, gear companies, artisans, authors, and more all pack this cute little town that the A.T. passes through. This will be our third year attending this event and we are looking forward to another exciting year meeting hikers and sharing trail love.


I hope you enjoyed this adventure update. Nothing too profound to share, just sharing some A.T. love with you who can't be here with us. Check back next Thursday (I hope) to see how much fun we had at Trail Days 2024.


Happy Hiking,


Emily




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