Thursday, May 31, 2007

Update from Damascus, VA

Onward To Virginia!

This morning we crossed the TN/VA border and shortly after arrived in Damascus, VA. That means at mile 459.5 we've completed over 20% of the Applachian Trail, although it is quite humbling to look at the map and see how much hard work (and how much more adventure!) we have ahead of us.

Virginia will be our longest state, composing nearly 1/4 of the entire trail, so we expect to be in this beautiful state for the whole month of June.

View Back Over Wautauga Lake

The last 2.5 days between the Kincora and Damascus have been extremely difficult, although the challenges have been almost entirely self-imposed. The last 50 miles of terrain and weather have been some of the most favorable of the trip - the mildly rolling ups and downs have earned it the name of the "Damascus Highway."

Laurel Forks Falls

Our first challenge was due to logistical errors, since we're still new to resupplying on a long journey. When we arrived at the Kincora hostel the complimentary shuttle was leaving soon, so we took it into town to buy a few groceries before checking the packages we'd received. Later we found out we had 3 priority mail packages waiting for us - and only 2 days to the next town!

Even after repacking one box to mail ahead, our packs were laden with approximately 12 days of food. We hesitated to mail more, because we will be arriving at the intermediary post offices shortly and have been experiencing slow delivery times to these rural towns. Still, each of our packs were loaded beyond their reasonable comfort levels, probably pushing 32-35lbs, which is significant without any frame or hip belt on our packs.

Secondly, my attitude (Ben) has been quite awful, which only compounded the problem of our heavy burdens. I was grumbling things in my head, sometimes out loud, "What the hell am I carrying two weeks of dark chocolate for, when we can buy this in any town!" It wasn't pretty. I was miserable to be with for most of the last segment, and I give Lauren a lot of credit for not complaining once about her equally heavy pack -- and maybe more impressively for putting up with me.

I am looking forward to a fresh start when we depart from Damascus tomorrow, and to eating as much of our load as possible before we leave!


  1. Your website is awesome! Its so nice to read your stories and see your progress. Thanks so much for coming in our shop and hanging out in Damascus. We miss you! Thanks - Liz, Richard and Cody at "Trails Crossing" in Damascus, VA

  2. I came across your blog. Really nice to read about your adventure and preparation. All the best in conquering the AT!