Trail Update #4 – To Erwin and Celli’s

Wow! So I realized how much of a slacker I’ve been with the posts the past two weeks or so. So here’s what happened. After leaving Hot Springs, I hiked about five fairly uneventful days to the small town of Erwin Tennessee. And from Erwin, I then went to Johnson City which is about 15 miles off the trail. Why you ask? For Mike Celli’s most excellent bachelor party of course. After spending two nights in Johnson City at a hotel where I ate a ton of food, read two books, and watched a ton of hilarious Cartoon Network shows (and yes, I should have written a post during this vacation of mine, but I was busy watching the Amazing World of Gumball), I drove four hours to Nashville Tennessee.

The bachelor party was great. We drank many fine wines (the White Zin from central California was Celli’s favorite), told many grand jokes (Paul, excellent joke about the comparison between croquet and raquetball – hilarious), and dined on many exquisite steak dinners (filet mignon is still the king). But in all seriousness, it was a great extended weekend, and it was awesome to see everybody there. Going from the trail lifestyle to the bachelor party lifestyle was a bit tough, but it was more than worth it. So good party work everyone who was there! It was a blast! And a big thanks to my brothers for bringing me some much needed items (sorry about the protein Matt!), and to the Bismarck von Pickler for bringing me some much needed reading material. Can’t wait to see all you guys again soon!

So I returned to the trail about four days ago and have been in catch up mode to meet up with the few weirdos who hang out with me out here. I’m currently about fifty miles from the Virginia border where I’ll have a half day to hang in the town of Damascus. I’ll update again while there. When I reach Damascus, that will be the unofficial quarter-way mark of my journey. It’s a big milestone, so I’m pumped to get there as soon as I can!

One thing I do want to mention as well is a big congrats to Mom and Dad on their successful completion of their leg of the Camino. They did about 200 miles in only about two weeks – an absolutely insane average per day to jump right into. I’m very glad and very proud you guys pulled off such a successful journey. I’m super impressed and can’t wait to see you all for the Anniversary party! Love ya much!

PS. I will definitely update again in a few days. Also, I just saw this tricky little publish dropdown where I can write something, then publish it later. Should have found that earlier!

Trail Update #5 – Erwin to Damascus

I have made it to Virginia! This is my unofficial quarter way point on the trail. It’s a big morale booster to make it into Virginia, where they say you can pick up the miles quickly. Honestly, I’m starting to feel like I can do this journey – it’s a good feeling. When I got back on the trail, I discovered that a bunch of my buddies came down with the dreaded neurovirus. Several of them got layed up in Erwin for a few days. Bad news for them – but the good news for me is that I’ll be able to catch them a bit sooner.

__2

The past week or so has been great. I went through the Roan Mountain area and saw some nice views. I had one pretty hectic and fun day that stands out most. In the morning, I took my first dip waters of nature! I passed by the Elk River and went for a dip for about 15 minutes. It was pleasant until some kids came up and started laughing at me – the water was cold. Just kidding. It was a nice little bath, especially after not having a shower for five days or so. Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of me as I was alone, but I don’t think you’d want to see it anyway.

After hiking a few more miles, I came across Isaac’s Cemetery. I dropped my pack and spent a bit of time walking around and checking out the headstones. It was a neat experience. There are only a few different families in the cemetery, but their lineage stretched back to the mid 1800’s. There were Potters, Jones, Isaacs, and Johnsons among others. There were also several ‘unkowns’. It was a neat place – I’m glad I spent the time there.

After leaving the cemetery and hiking some more, I saw a storm rolling in. I got obliterated by this thunderstorm – it was the first one I got caught in real badly. I was so close to the center that I would see a lightning strike and not hear the thunder for about three or four seconds. It was amazing. My pockets were literally filling with water as I hiked the last five miles to a shelter. It felt like I was in a waterpark, just sloshing around in ankle deep water. It was tough, but fun. That night was pretty rough though as I didn’t have much that was dry. But I survived. It was a trying, but exhilarating experience.

The week as a whole was great though. For all you MTL’ers, I hung out at Laurel Falls!!!

Laurel Falls golf

Wait, wrong Laurel Falls. Here we go. This is me at Laurel Falls near Damascus:

Laurel Falls

I walked through a field with a bunch of cows too. I stopped and had a five minute conversation with these three:

calves

They weren’t overly talkative. The conversation went like this:

Me: Hey, how’re you doing? Nice, you guys are looking good. So what are the plans for today? Hanging out… yea, me too. Walking around… yea, me too. Eating grass… yea, me too.

I didn’t want to tell them they were very boring because all the big cows were standing right behind me. They wouldn’t have liked me insulting their strange children.

cows

I also took my second swim, the second being more recreational. I chilled on Lake Watuga for a few hours with some locals, and my friends Party, Jason, and Pete. We just went swimming and hung out. Some people gave us some pizza and hot dogs. Then we camped on the shore of the lake. Below is a picture of me and Party, and below that is a view from our camp site that night.

Lake_Watuga_2

Lake_Watuga

But that was just one of the many great times I’ve had out here. As I said, the past week has been great. But there is one super awesome thing that I did that I’d like to mention. As some of you know, I’m carrying a little tomahawk. So far, it’s been a glorified hammer that I nail my tent stakes in with. I’ve also make a couple walking stick with it for fun. Most people laugh at me when they see I’m carrying one. However, the other day, I finally used it in a truly sensible, and may I say, manly way. I was hiking up a mountain, and boom – right smack in the middle of the trail was a fallen tree (from that nasty thunderstorm the day before). I started to climb through/around it, but then a lightbulb went off – I have a tomahawk! I must clear this way for others! So I busted out the ‘hawk and started hacking away. I don’t have a before picture since my camera was dead. However, my buddy passed by the tree sometime later and was so impressed by the clearing that he took a picture of it (he didn’t know I did it). I didn’t cut through the main trunk, but I hacked away all the limbs around it. In short, I literally blazed a trail. Boom, roasted.

Tree_Clear

Below is an image of what I may have looked like while carrying out my work:

man axe

So that’s that – I’ve made it to a huge milestone with my entrance to Virginia. In about ten days, I hop off the trail to go to my parent’s anniversary party back home!!! Can’t wait to see everyone!! 🙂

PS. I am going to add a new page to the site in a few days. It’s called “The Beard Chronicles.” I’ll take pictures every few days of my facial hair growth so you can see the progression. All beards are welcome, so if you have a beard, send me a picture and I’ll put it up there. Beards are for cool weirdos (Paul has a beard and he’s a cool weirdo).