Day 43 500 miles

Tues 22nd May

I woke around 5.30 and dozed until  6am, before getting up ,I let down my mat  before wandring off to the loo. on my way back I collected my food bag, then  I grabbed my pack and took it outside the shelter so as not to wake people . I  went back and grabbed  my mat and sleeping bag. once outside I stuffed my bag into its stuff sack then rolled up my mat.once done assembled my stove and put on a brew  before making breakfast.
I continued to pack as I sipped my tea. when I  was ready I slung my pack onto my back and headed out  it was 7. 30.
I knew it was going to be a day of climbing so  wanted to  have an early start .The trail started off nice ,  a lovely tread just how I like it but it wasnt long until  it  quickly began to climb  snd  become  knarly and rocky. My poorly foot didn’t like this as every knock sent painwaves up my leg with the odd swear word, but I continued on. later i came to a field of cows I was busy trying to photograph one that I did not hear the hiker approaching me and almost jumped out of my skin.
Sorry Snail didn’t mean to scare you!!
I left the cows and continued climbing, after about an hour I was  at the top with amazing views .
This is why we climb mountains.!!
I continued climbing until I met all the girls who were at the previous shelter. They had  camped on top of the mountain.
We’re you not cold I asked?
Bloody freezing came the reply.
I laughed and carried on
The trail snaked down then around  the mountain before climbing once more
As I walked I noticed a sign for water, so stopped and  filled up it looked and tasted good that i didnt bother to filter.

As i crossed over the road there were some bags of crisps and home made cakes (Trail magic) I grabbed a muffin and bag of crisps. thanks you x.
The trail today was horrid or rather horrid for me it was rocks and  roots or sludgy water. When it’s raining I would normally plough straight throughthis stuff.
Today seemed just hard work and my foot being fragile and tender was not helping.
The hours ticked by, I should be at the shelter by now ?
At last the trail  began to decend  and soon i entered  a  car park, with  toilets. Such a treat when your hiking  lol.
I decided to have a break and take lunch. I had almost finished when it began to rain.
I quickly put my food away , put on my pack cover before  visited the loo. INside the loo was a trash can ,so I quickly returned with my trash.
I pushed on , my  next climb was mount Robert’s,  which was  the mountain that i  thought that i had climbed earlier.! Once again it was more rock and slushy mud , I think I crossed about 50 streams,There was so much  water , water every where and I was still climbing.
I stopped an checked my map, the shelter was  still miles away . I must admit to becoming a bit angry with myself , my foot and the terrain as I had left early and still has miles to go.
Then I noticed horses, these are wild in Virginia. then a deer bounced out in front of me scarring me to death a d I sloped and fell into the boggy stream . dazed a d sho ked I picked myself up .luckily now damage. and walked o . sat on a rock I. fro t as toast surrounded by ponies and several very young foals. it waz lovey to see.

I moved on and eventually arrived at the shelter. it was o lyvwhen k began to look at my maps that i realized that this shelter was much further away than normal. in fact this one was almost twice the distance away .so that’s why I hadn’t reached it by 11.30 Doh Stupid Snail. I took off my shoes and had a proper break . ate some more snacks .

This was the shelter with the Bear issue. a bear had before rather clever and was managing to steal peoples food bags . he had broken off 8″ tree limbs yo steal the food and so the rangers had, had to install bear boxes (Big tool chests) for people to put their food into.

I studied my maps the next shelter was 6 more miles away ….. Yes I can do that so set off. passing several of the new bear boxes.

As I dropped down into the next meadow I could see more horses and longhorn cows

As I walked through the gate I noticed a very new foal lying in the grass oh bless.

But I needed to push on . again out of the meadow and back to rock and some crazy climbing unroll I came to

500 miles whoop whoop just under 1/4 walked I felt so good and began to.push on with a great smile on my face

I I dropped down I came to a stretch of tea that the trail guys have been working on Thank You so much . rocks had been flattened . steps installed the trail bed graded and filled with varying sizes of stone it was amazing and no easy feat.

So thank you so so every much as it was s joy to walk down . Toast had once again caught me up . well she’s younger and fitter. we chatted as we counted fown the miles to the next shelter. she asked me question on the PCT. the shelters the water a d I gladly answered. we were chatting so much the miles flew and soon we had arrived. it was all very near and tidy 2 privys but there was only room for one and no camping aroundcthe shelter….. Weird. I let toast have my spot and I decided to hike on . I had just left when booom went the thunder. oh dear I thought need to find somewhere quick.

I stopped by river and filled up my bottles. then headed out I ended up alking for about  2 miles before spotting a place.
I dropped my pack and my tent was soon up and tea was on

7pm and my day is done.

mile 504.5. miles hiked 18.5

Start 486
Finish 504.5
mileage 18.5 miles
Remaining 1686 Miles


Day 39 zero in Damascus

friday 18th May

I slept so well on the sofa waking at 8.30 and dozing. Tank was in the armchair and whitey was on the other sofa. Beth was making coffee so I grabbed a cup.
Dan began to make breakfast, scrambled egg, hash and bacon  we  all dug  in  and  wow  so  tasty.
Once I had eaten I wandered down to the post office.
Sadly no sign of my bounce box , but new shoes whoop and another box which I then bounced to my friend in Texas.
I walked back to the house and tried to find the post office number. Beth lent me her phone to try and contact them .but after being on hold for ages I gave up I will retry tomorrow.
Every one else had walked down to the festival but as it was nice i quite  I began to edit some video  and  then uploaded,once  down i too headed off to  the festival.

I walked  through   mingling  with  the hundreds  of  other hikers . I  entered several competitions, looked at the kit, tents, hammocks. Osprey  the pack manufactures  should be  here but I couldn’t see them  as i wanted some  help  and  advice on my  pack  or  if  i could swap it out .
I kept meeting my hiker family which was great but now I was hungry so went and grabbed lunch and a soft drink as an Alcohol is banned from the town!!
Hundreds of  hikers and No beer     Great  idea

Whilst I ate lunch I listened to several bands that were playing.. As I sat there a hiker I met several days ago joined me and then so did Dan.
The other hiker was saying that Osprey and Big Agnes and several other venders were set up by the campsite.
I made my way back to the house , found my pack and began to empty every thing out.
I was going to walk to tent city when Beth offered to drive me.
Beth  drove  me  up to tent city    it was awash  with  hikers and  the smell of  food, Again there several competitions going  on and  there were  hordes of  hikers  surrounding  them.
I wandered through the vender part and found Osprey. I haggled on a pack for a while and got a 20% discount on a pack but I had to buy it  from town. But whilst  here I managed to get  my Hip belt replaced .
I wandered around looking at the other stalls  before getting a ride back to town. I found the outfitter , but unfortunately the store didn’t have either of the bags that I wanted . Oh well at least I  have a new hip belt.

I wandered back to the house and was pleased to see big Red had arrived. I gave him big hug then put my now dry tent away before joining the guys on the porch for a beer I am just about to sit  when Magic and Tentless arrive and it’s like a party .
We spent the whole evening sat  on the porch chatting and drinking beer untill the Pizza that we ordered earlier arrives . Its bloody  good pizza and we are soon all stuffed  but  can still manage more beer

But Omg it’s midnight

Start 469
Finish 469
mileage  ZERO
Remaining 1723 Miles

Day 38 Off to Damascus

Thursday 17th May

The shelter was awake early , 3 socks and another hiker were almost packed.
I released the air out of my mat and climbed out of bed, put on my shoes and went to the loo.
Once back I quickly packed up then made tea .
Okay I was ready. I hoisted my pack and set off Damascus here I come.
As I left I passed a camp of university students morning guys i  said  as i  walked
The trail was similar to yesterday, a  few big climbs at first then a roller-costa trail
As  I pushed on my right toe began to  hurt, I blocked it out and pushed on . I was in no hurry as I did the miles yesterday so it should be an easy day. Ping went my watch informing me an hour had passed.  It was a glorious day and  warm all ready, i would  love a breeze please .
I pushed on for another 2 hours the pain in my foot not relenting, and  so when I came to an old disused shelter I decided to stop to do foot maintenance.

I taped the  toes on my left foot, my right foot was swollen,not a lot  I can do about that.
I ate some snacks before  putting  my socks and shoes back on and set off my shoes are now beginning to fail but hopefully there are new ones waiting for me in Damascus !!
I pushed on passing water, Should i stop  i said  to myself  but still pushed on . After an hour I checked my map., bugger the water at the shelter is far away oh well.
At last I arrived at the shelter, there was another hiker already here.
Where is the water I asked, and is it far ?
Yes it is he replied
I dropped my pack and headed down the  path .Water was .2 of a mile and  down a steep decent.
But the water was good. I filtered a litre and promptly guzzled it. I then grabbed another 2 litres and began the climb back.
I had just arrived back at the shelter when 3 socks turned up.
Yes it’s far and steep I said .
I ate more snacks and then made tea.
I was just beginning to pack up when Beth and Dan arrived  shortly  followed by captain Bob.
I stayed for a while then set off although it want long until Beth caught me.
I shadowed her for a while as we chatted but Beth’s too fast for me so let her go.
Dan was next to catch   me. and again, I shadowed him for a while as I was staying with them in Damascus.
We shortly caught up with Beth who was resting and waiting.
As Dan & Beth live here they were familiar with this part of the trail as they often run it together.
We are almost their snail trainer , Beth said.   and sure enough we were soon dropping down towards the town .
As we  got nearer    there  were  little pockets  of  tents  where hikers had  claimed their  spot .
The  trail actually  goes  through   the town  and  so we  were  soon in daylight and  could  see  the    Festival  in front  of  us.
Dan & Beth stopped by   a  house  which  belonged to friends to  pick up their keys .
Then  we  headed towards  trail days , Passing  through  the  arch, we posed  for  photos   then wandered  through  the  festival  pausing to look at  the  stalls and to see if there were any bargains  to get .
WE walked through and out the other side. At this end was a calaboose and a small train. WE turned right and headed up the main street that was packed with hikers and signs promoting free food hot showers. Beth & Dan lived at the far end of town, as we approached we noticed two figures sat in the doorstep one was whitely and the other tank.
Dan was a little miffed that  they were  there, as he  had only invite   close mates  to  his  house
Their house was really  lovely , I dropped my pack outside as BETH & Dan introduced me to their lodger a young girl who was    into canoeing .
Then beer  was opened , Later Big Red and  Magic arrived, I  had  bagged  the right  sofa  and  so  they had  the chair  and  other couch.
Once we were settled  we  retreated top  the porch to chill and  drink  more  beer , As  the afternoon wore  on a familiar stream  of familiar  faces  arrived  , turning into a great  party atmosphere

Start 451
Finish 469
mileage 16 miles
Remaining 1723 Miles