Miles Hiked: 0
Miles Left: 1739.4
Ending Location: TN 91 road crossing, Woodchuck hostel in Damascus
With us just completing an 18 mile day, bad weather, and finding ourselves in the most famous trail town on the AT, of course Owl and I decided to take a zero today!
The Woodchuck hostel had free breakfast but we had been hearing about the coffee at Mojoe’s Coffeehouse so that was our first destination in the morning. The rest of the day consisted of us making trips to the three outfitters in town to upgrade our gear for summer. Hiking the AT is a lot like golf since everyone talks about the weather and is obsessed about their equipment. It’s tricky since we still have some cold weather ahead of us but it’s time to start lightening our packs. My main purchases were a new pack cover that’s easier to put on for the rain and a new long sleeved shirt that is appropriate for summer wear. I know long sleeves seem like a weird choice, but the shirt is vented and is the type that specifically provides UV protection which is important since I’ve already gotten sunburns and summer hasn’t even started yet. I’ll admit both Owl and I have been admiring Wiki’s setup and are basically copying it. I managed to avoid the temptation to buy a new water filter or sleeping bag liner since while those would be nice my current stuff still works. The biggest disappointment was neither one of us could find Crocs to use as camp shoes.
As for the gear I’m sending back home, it’s mostly clothes, microspikes and most disappointingly my kindle. I haven’t had the time to do much reading on the trail so carrying it up and down mountains seems a bit crazy. While that all doesn’t sound like much, my pack should now be a couple of pounds lighter which is awesome.
At the Blue Blaze cafe later that night one of the locals bought all of the hikers a round of beer which was nice. The staff was very stressed out though handling all if the related craziness. I may have heard the owner mutter under their breath “And hiking season hasn’t even started yet”. Hikers are tough customers since a good chunk of them are in their early 20’s and are still in the party hard mindset. Combined with a huge dose of competitive spirit that can make for some interesting evenings. The hardest drinkers were a couple of people celebrating hiking 40 or 50 miles the day before to make it into Damascus. The previous section was the first part where hikers were really able to hit huge miles so there were a few of them. That’s good news for us though since tomorrow Owl and I will be slack packing a good chunk of it to pull off our first 20 mile day as well.