Damascus, VA to Elk Garden
Miles Hiked: 24.2
AT Milage: 494.8
Today we packed up and left the hostel just after 7am. We hiked along the road for a while and then the creeper trail before we got back on an actual hiking trail for the AT. Emma hiked with me for a while and then she went in front of me. At mile 10 I met up with her and Parker who were eating lunch at a shelter 0.25 miles off the trail. I was surprised to see Parker again. I was under the impression he hikes really fast because he is on day 20 something but it turns out he actually hikes the same pace, he just ends up hiking all day long. After we ate lunch Emma and I walked another 6 miles to the next shelter to eat food. I was trying to think of a trail name for Parker and I came up with one! I suggested the name “Crunchy” and he took it. I was surprised. Giving someone a trail name is always weird and fun. I have given one other hiker a trail name of “Marble” but I haven’t seen her in a long time. Emma and I hung out wii Parker in Damascus too since he was staying at the same hostel. We had a lot of fun together and it felt like we had finally made a friend on the trail! Parker says we are the people he has talked to the most on the entire trail so far since he has been hiking farther than all the people he has passed. It seems like we ran into a lot of people who are hiking longer miles in Damascus.
After the second food break at the second shelter, we all hiked on together. Emma and I were going to stay at a campsite one mile past the shelter but we were both feeling good for the most part and it seemed to early to stop. We ended up hiking on about 4 more miles to a campsite called Elk Garden next to the road. Parker stayed with us. Today I was proud of how far I hiked and how my body felt about it. My feet are still screaming at me every time I step on a rock, but I didn’t feel like I was going to pass out like I did almost every other time I’ve hiked a long day. Something that helped today go by faster/ better was not looking at the map as much. Usually I obsess over the elevation profile and constantly check to see how far I’ve gone. I noticed that I always check Guthooks more when I am not having a good time hiking or I really want to sit down. It is something that messes with me mentally on the trail. Making a conscious effort to not look and see how big the mountains I had to climb were made them feel so much better! I was also just having a blast talking to Crunchy and Emma. Hopefully we get to camp with him for a few more nights! I’m excited to hit a lot of exciting milestones tomorrow including 500 miles, the highest point in Virginia, and seeing the ponies in the Grayson Highlands.