Day 60- Thursday, 5/10- Winston Salem, NC- (0) (533.5 total)
Spent most of today running around taking care of the usual errands. Connie was nice enough to drive me around to a local outdoor outfitter that I found on Yelp, the supermarket, and the drug store. Nice to be driven to all these places, rather than having to walk all across town to accomplish them as is usually the case. Cars are so convenient. We stopped for lunch at a good burger joint and then I spent the afternoon catching up with my online postings. I did find some more of the tick spray stuff to spray down the last of my clothes, so I should be covered for the next 5 weeks or so.
Last night, just before bed, I got an email from the reporter for the West Hawaii Today who has been working on the story for my hike. Her boss wanted to wait to publish the article until I was somewhere between 600-800 miles into the trek, but apparently she is an intern and her internship is coming to a close this week. So the boss is letting her publish it early, before she leaves. She said it should be ready by this weekend, so keep your eyes peeled and let me know if it comes out. This will hopefully help get some more general public donations rolling in, which would be huge.
The highlight of the day was heading over to the local minor league baseball stadium right near Connie’s place and watching the Winston-Salem Dash play. I hadn’t been to a baseball game in I don’t know how many years, but it was a blast! I’m not a huge baseball fan, but live sports at the stadium are always just so much fun! The grass, the lights, they players, the food, etc. Just a great atmosphere. We got seats right behind home plate, right up close so we could see really well. The home team was getting spanked 9-1 when we left at the 7th inning stretch. Gotta drive back 2 hours to the trail tomorrow and need to get an early start, so we couldn’t stay too late. But I throughly enjoyed the experience.
On the way home, we stopped at the gas station and I bought my first ever lottery tickets. I keep seeing all the signs around NC for the mega-millions, so I decided to play just for fun. We don’t have the lottery in Hawaii, so it was a new experience. I told the lady at the counter that I was visiting from Hawaii. She said “Well, welcome to our beautiful state, but what you really need to do is get up and see the mountains.” Ummm....
Day 61- Friday, 5/11- Davis Path Campsite- (14.4 miles) (547.9 total)
Got up and had a final breakfast and cup of coffee with Connie at her place before we hit the road. She drove me the 2 hours back to the trail in Virginia. Again, that time at her place was just what the doctor ordered. Very refreshing. Some good conversation made the 2 hours zoom by and before I knew it I was back on the trail. It’s always like stepping into a vortex that takes me in between 2 vastly different worlds when I go from trail to town and back again. They are such different worlds.
Part way through today’s hike, there was a sign posted for trail magic. A local church group uses an old one-room school house from the 1800s, and they keep boxes of snacks and hiker supplies full for about 2 months of the year. They told us they are having a full on BBQ with homemade cobbler in 2 days. Wish we would have timed it better for that one! I was inside getting some food and talking to the lady running it, when another hiker walked in. She looks at him and asks “Are you Jeremy?” He says “Yea, how did you know?” She tells him she saw him on an AT Facebook page this morning. His parents apparently hadn’t heard from him in 7 days and freaked out and put out a missing person post on him. He was so mortified and embarrassed! Lol! We were all dying with laughter. The classic overly worried parents, overreacting as they do. She took a picture with him and posted it on the Facebook site, letting them know he was ok and checking to see if she would get a reward. He looked like he wanted to die. HA!
The trail popped out on to a busy highway at one point today, and on the outskirts of a small town. I looked everywhere, but I couldn’t see where the trail continued. No typical white blazes to follow. I looked to my left, and the guardrail had some white reflectors all along it. Sometimes they replace the white painted blazes with plastic ones, so I thought that was the way to go. So I walked quite a ways up a hill along the highway and down another road, before these while reflectors ran out. Checked my GPS and of course I was way off the trail. Reversed my course back to the trail I had come off of. Asked a couple of people at the gas station but they had no idea. Finally just started walking down the road in the other direction until finally some real white blazes appeared. They sure did a terrible job of marking that section of the trail. Just as I was finally back on the right trail, the afternoon thunderstorms that were predicted started rolling in. Rain, thunder, and lightning in the near distance. Luckily I just happened to be walking under the highway overpass when it really started. I was able to hang out there for a bit until it passed. Fortunately, it was short and sweet and I could get hiking again.
Camping at a campsite tonight with just one other guy here. All day people were saying that they were all headed here, but when I arrived it was empty. Guess everyone pushed on. This actually used to be a shelter site, but the shelter is gone now. No idea what happened to it. Just the foundation remains, but the privy is still here at least. That will make things faster in the morning.
Day 62- Saturday, 5/12- Lick Creek Campsite- (15.3 miles) (563.2 total)
Passed the 1/4 way mark on the trail today!!! Feels great to get that first big chunk done. Today was also my 2 month anniversary on the trail. Took 2 months to do the first quarter, but I expect the next 3 quarters to take about 6 weeks each now that I’m up to speed. From what I can calculate, my campsite last night was probably about the exact quarter mark, but I knew there was a sign marking the spot and I really wanted to find that. I was sure it was right around the corner when I started hiking this morning, but I kept hiking and hiking and didn’t see the sign. I was worried that I missed it. Finally I came across it, 5 miles down the trail. The thing is, the AT changes every year. Sections are cut out or added and the length changes each year. So I guess once upon a time, that was the 1/4 mark, but now it’s 5 miles sooner. Either way, the sign helped to make it feel real and was a nice reflective moment on how far I’ve come. There is a ton more to go, but 548 miles is nothing to shake your dick at.
Just after lunch today, I met an older guy on the trail from Vietnam. He had come to the US when he was 16 and has already hiked the PCT. He is in his late 60s. His wife and some friends are out here assisting him. They meet him at road crossings where he can resupply or stop for the day. He is basically slack packing the whole trail. We walked and talked together for a long time. Really fascinating guy. When I first ran into him, he suddenly recited a long John Muir poem about nature that he had memorized. It was beautiful. I had him repeat it and got it on video, so have a look on Facebook. His trail name is Half-Slow, but that wasn’t true because I had a hard time keeping up with this guy. He could fly. We got so caught up in talking and making the video that we somehow missed a turn, looped around and started heading back the wrong way on the trail. We had climbed up a pretty good sized hill when we went over some steps over a fence. I recognized one of the broken boards in the step that I had seen before, so we stopped and figured out that we had hiked about a mile back south. So frustrating. Happens sometimes out here tho. It is easy to miss the markers in some places.
Later we came to a roadway where his wife was waiting for him, so I got to meet her. She had a trunk full of snacks and shared some with me. Very sweet lady. Turns out he was also getting support from another person, the famous Trail Angel Miss Janet. Miss Janet is famous on the AT as she goes up and down the trail by car each year and just assists hikers however she can. Gives out food, talks with us, slack packs for people, etc. She has videos on Facebook and maybe YouTube. I heard a lot about her in some documentaries I watched before I came out here, so was nice to get to meet her in person. Very sweet lady.
While I was sitting there chatting with Miss Janet, a guy walks by and says “Are you Micah?” I had seen him pass me earlier while I was having lunch on the trail and said hi. Turns out it was K-TOM, a friend of my friend in Hawaii, Ira. Ira has been telling me about this guy for a while now. He has been hiking a bit faster than me, so Ira was hoping we might meet one day. Small little world. So K-TOM and I hiked the second half of the day together and are now camping in the same spot. Super nice guy and I really enjoyed the conversation along the trail. Made the day go faster. I hike alone so much, so it was nice to get out of my own head and talk to this guy. We have a similar hiking pace so hopefully I’ll be seeing this guy along the trail for a few more days. Ira is coming out to hike with me for 5 days at the end of this month. Would be cool if the 3 of us could hike together.
Day 63- Sunday, May 13- Jenkins Shelter- (16.7 miles) (579.9 total)
Tough, grueling day today. I hiked all day with K-TOM which I enjoyed again with all the good conversation. But it was just such a hot day with a lot of uphill climbs. We started out the day climbing 2000 ft. over the first 6 miles. After that the app made it look like it leveled out quite a bit, but it didn’t really. Still a fair number of ups. Neither of us peed much today. Maybe only twice, but I drank 5 liters of water. That’s the most water I’ve ever drunk on the trail in a day. We were just sweating it all out and my pee was staying a bit yellow. Nuts. I think our water consumption is going to skyrocket as the summer gets nearer. I hear we hike in 100 degree days with tons of humidity. We were just complaining about the cold, and now we get to complain about the heat. I used to drink less than 2 liters a day when it was cold and my water was partially frozen. But now I’m gonna really have to focus on collecting water more often and just drink as much as I can.
Halfway through the day when I had some signal up on a mountain top, I called my friend Ira back in Hawaii, the guy who’s going to join me at the end of the month. He didn’t know that I had met his friend K-TOM and been hiking with him. I just talked to Ira casually for a bit, then suddenly passed the phone over to K-TOM. Ira was very surprised and happy that we had crossed paths. I knew that would make his day, so that was fun. Still hoping that the 3 of us can hike those 5 days together when Ira arrives. We will see.
At the top of the first big mountain we climbed today, I was able to get some good signal and check my email and Facebook. I learned that the article about my hike was published yesterday in the West Hawaii Today. It was a really well written article and quite long. I was impressed. Gita Howard did a fantastic job writing it. The funny thing was that there was a typo saying that the trail is 21,181 miles long, rather than the 2,181 miles that it actually is. I can hike a long way, but not quite that far. LOL! But I was really stoked to get this story published and help to get the word out there more. The donations have dried up mostly in the last 2-3 weeks, so hopefully this will revive them a bit.
With the heat today I was craving a soda so badly all day. I was just praying that somehow there would be some trail magic somewhere along the way. Then walking down a hill, we see a road ahead with all the telltale signs of trail magic. A car with the back open, a red cooler, a guy sitting there. Sweet! My prayers have been answered! This soda is only minutes away from my lips! But when we got there, the guy said he was just about to leave and was out of everything. The only thing he could offer us was to refill our water bottles. What a letdown. Oh well, I’ll get that soda in town tomorrow.
At the camp tonight as I was eating dinner, Bear Claw the Thai woman came walking in with a friend from Makakilo. She is just joining Bear Claw for 2 weeks to support her, then heading back to Hawaii. Cool to meet another Hawaii person out here.
Well, Happy Mother’s Day to my mom and all the other moms out there! A well deserved bed time for me here.
Day 64- Monday, 5/14- Bland, VA- (11.3 miles) (591.2 total)
In town today for a resupply. I hiked 11.3 miles to the road into town. We were all happy to find that there was a restaurant and small resupply store for hikers right on the trail where I finished my day. Really good burgers and fries, and my buddy ordered deep fried Oreos which he shared with us. AND I finally got that soda that I missed at the trail magic yesterday! Got a shuttle service into town and checked into my motel here. Nice place up on a hill with a great view of the mountains all around. The only issue here is that they don’t have a washing machine for us to use like most places along the trail do. I asked if there was a laundromat in town, and the lady told me “There is no laundromat in this entire county.” What they do have is 2 big buckets and a hose in the back of the motel. They gave me a cup of detergent and I went back there and did the 1870 version of clothes washing and hung my clothes out to dry on their clothesline.
I’m experimenting with something different this town stop. Instead of the Nero/zero that I usually do, I’m trying a Nero/Nero this time. Half day of hiking today in the morning. Half day of hiking tomorrow, in the afternoon. This way I still get 24 hours off, get some meals in, shower, etc., but I also get 8-10 miles in tomorrow instead of zero. I think I can get all my errands done in that time. Planning to start hiking tomorrow after lunch. I’m not planning to do this every time. I will still need those zero days from time to time, but I will try to mix these in as a way to get a few more miles in each week. Also only have to pay for one night in a motel, so saves a bit of money too. We will see how this works and if I feel rested enough.
Found out today that the newspaper article on my hike was also published in the Hilo paper, the Hawaii Tribune Herald. I thought it was only going in the Kona paper. Sweet! Very grateful for the coverage.
Had a pizza delivered to the room tonight. Nice to just stay in and chill. Might watch a little bit of the basketball playoff game and then call it a night.