Prior to this trip my longest hike was around three weeks, so I had no long distance hiking experience and was carrying a little too much weight in the form of my big 3 (pack, sleeping system, and tent) mainly because I already owned it. I was starting to get the feeling that a large number of people hiking were even more underprepared then I was. They weren’t ready for a range of weather conditions and would try and wait it out in town.
The extra weight was starting to wear on me at this point. I will say the best choice I made was spending money on new light weight stuff. I ordered a new pack that saved me 4lbs. I also went with a down bag that saved a couple more pounds!
The new light weight gear wasn’t as durable and cost more then what I had, but was really worth the extra money. Shaving that weight off my gear took a lot of stress off my body.
I stopped at a privy by a shelter and realized I was now really light weight, I forgot to pack toilet paper! Unfortunately this was not actually on purpose to save weight, but luckily someone else must have forgotten their tp also. I picked up a book and was leafing through it and noticed pages were torn out. I followed suit and put the book to good use. I was sure to pack out the pages, Leave No Trace (LNT).
Hiking down the trail I heard a loud engine roar and gravel spinning as I rounded a bend in the path, before me was an SUV doing what appeared to be donuts on a gravel road. As I approached, a man in a brown hat stopped the SUV and asked if I wanted a beer and soda. I chugged a glass of Mountain Dew, and was opening a beer when one of the guys I had been hiking with comes back down the trail headed south to partake in the beer. Later he said that he heard the noise of the vehicle and was squatting in the bushes to make sure I was not getting murdered, apparently the free beer was worth the risk of murder.
As you can tell since I am writing about the past I wasn’t murdered and you will be glad to know neither was the brave soul that was hiding in the bushes.
Arriving in Damascus, VA I got word that the laundry mat was the place to be. It ended up being true. There was a gas station that sold beer and the laundry mat had wifi. The night was spent socializing and drinking while doing laundry at the only place open past 8 p.m. We discussed coming back to Damascus for Trail Days. I did not end up going back, but later I passed some fellow hikers that had flip flopped (going ahead on the trail by means of transportation other then hiking, switching directions then hiking back to where you were). Glad I never made it back because during the parade at Trail Days a car ran over a number of hikers in the parade.