So who has heard of a trail name? Looks like everybody but me! Austin has been having an incredible journey through Virginia. Mind blowing views, great people, the best coffee in the world, and the great outdoors. What more could a traveler ask for! I got to talk to Austin for a long while today and are we jealous. He is having the time of his life on this trip and we are just so happy to be a part of it. As he goes he gets even more poetic, so I am going to let him tell you about these adventures! Take it away, Pterodactyl (Austin's trail name BTW).
Hey howdy yo what's up
I'm currently writing from mile 634 at Angel's Rest Hiker Haven in Pearisburg, VA. I decided to take a day off here today, as I've been hitting the trail pretty hard, and it's been hitting (specifically my knees) just as hard. Plus I fell in with a pretty cool trail family who wanted to do a movie marathon all day.
Since I left Damascus, I've been having a wonderful time! I'm back up to speed in terms of fitness, so I'm crushing miles again, and I've made lots of new friends in my new "bubble" (the crowd which surrounds you on the trail).
I passed through the Grayson Highlands, a section known for its picturesque views, fantastic terrain, and most importantly: wild ponies. Unfortunately for me, it rained for four or five days STRAIGHT in this section. This meant all I saw was a ton of fog and only a handful of wild ponies. I did get to pet the ones I did see though, and they thoroughly enjoyed licking my legs and pack for some reason. BUT because I missed out on one of the more iconic pieces of trail, I think trail karma has gifted me with a splendid streak of days.
After the Highlands, I spent a lot of time getting to know the less strenuous ridge lines of Virginia. Including discovering that resupply is very easy here. There's a little mom and pop grocery store every two or three days, which means a way lighter food bag. HOLLA
Also exciting, I joined about twenty other hikers for a day off at Dismal Falls, a small waterfall with a lagoon at the bottom for swimming. It was a day spent lounging in the warm sun and enjoying cold beer at the water's edge. With only seven miles to get there and some locals swinging by to hang out it was a 10/10 day that I would absolutely do again.
The day after Dismal Falls, a bunch of us did a quick thirteen miles to Woods Hole Hostel, AKA Heaven. It's a tiny organic farm in the middle of the woods right off trail. They have pigs, dogs, cows, and (most importantly) cats. The hostel is known for its locally grown produce and hospitality, and it had plenty of both. We had fresh bread and homemade cheese, along with strawberry smoothies for dinner, and a full breakfast of eggs, cobbler, pork, and toast. With everything made on the farm but the butter for the toast. AND most importantly, they home roast their coffee right on the farm, and you can taste the love.
I head back out tomorrow, hopefully I'll be able to get to town in five(ish) more days for the next update.
My high since the last update: Watching my friends Tree and Umbrella Face attempt to make pancakes. They tried in a JetBoil first, essentially just boiling pancake batter. Then they tried to put their half cooked concoction on a pot lid and finish it over our fire. This went terribly until they dropped everything on the ground and scooped up half cooked, dirty blobs of batter like Golem over a raw fish.
My low: I lost my journal at the Falls. I've been sleuthing where it ended up, and know who picked it up to find me, but I haven't been able to catch them yet. Hopefully I'll have it by the next update. (UPDATE: Austin found his journal! After some great detective work (and asking about 100 people) he was able to find a kind traveler who grabbed it for him! Gotta love those hikers!)
Happy Trails Everybody!
Be sure to donate to Austin's GoFundMe page and to support him on Instagram, @austinshike.