We were so happy to have had the pleasure to hang out and see Austin while he was visiting the area. He was only he for a little bit to attend his sister's wedding. We could tell he was antsy to get back on trail. We heard some great stores, heard of some amazing people, and have got to see first hand how much Austin has grown already from his time on the trail. Austin is ready to get back out there and start his journey again. He is getting ready to enter the most trying part of the trail yet, but we will let him tell you all about it! Take it away, Austin:
So it's been a while since my last update, and a ton of stuff has happened! It'll probably take a few posts to cover it all.
The main reason it's been so long is I got off the trail for my sister's wedding. It was a lovely shin dig, right on a beautiful lake. It was amazing coming home to see all my friends and family (and drink a few cups of brew at my favorite coffee house.) But, I yearned for the trail after just a few days, and it is so so so good to be back in the woods. Especially because I FINALLY made it to Virginia!
Virginia is both revered and feared by thru hikers. It's the longest state on the trail, with over 500 miles to cover it (more miles than Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina combined). This, along with the fact that we've all become adjusted to trail life by this point, effectively ending the "honeymoon phase" with the trail, can be said to lead to the Virginia Blues.
The Blues is essentially the mental hump we must push through. Now that our bodies are adjusted to walking 20 miles a day, we know exactly how we like our camp set up, and we've figured out the every day problems of living in the woods, we have to face new challenges like boredom and homesickness. Most people make it out ok, some don't ever catch the Blues, and some decide to jump off trail. So Virginia is a brand new beast and I can't wait!
Since returning to the trail, I haven't been pushing big miles. Both in an attempt to let my body readjust and because I made it into Damascus, Virginia right on time for a very magical Trail Days.
Trail Days is a yearly celebration of hikers and the Appalachian Trail. Almost 20,000 people came into the normally 700 person town of Damascus for the weekend. It's impossible to explain Trail Days in one post, but it's a fine blend of family reunion/music festival/giant city wide party. With events such as the Trail Talent Show, the hiker parade (which normally is a giant water gun fight with the local kids, but this year it rained buckets the whole time) and even a trail wedding, it's a magical place to be a hiker.
I've been camping out in the forest around town, right next to a literal tent city, on a little island in the river that we aptly named Fantasy Island. I keep running in to friends I haven't seen in hundreds of miles, and beer/food is abundant.
I'm leaving town today, heading back out before I get sucked in to the town vortex and stay another night.
My high point: I'm living the siesta lifestyle now, hiking early, taking a nap in the hottest parts of the day, and hiking in the cooler parts of the evening. It's a game changer.
My low point: Slipping on a rock and eating it in the river on my way to Fantasy Island one night. Whoops.
I'll update again soon!
Happy Trails Everybody