~6 miles from Damascus
Tenting in the woods! Not alone, though. Banter and Evenbeard are here; Clark Kent and Wander just showed up, too. Clark and Wander hitched into a town today and had cheeseburgers for lunch! My day is coming, though. I haven’t spent any money on dining (except for a cheeseburger and a salad in Hot Springs), and I might just treat myself to a dinner in Damascus. I feel like meat and a baked potato. Wish they had an Outback! A reward for 9 days on the trail.
The day started wintry and chill. I couldn’t force myself from under the covers until 6:30. I hit the trail an hour later, more or less. No rain, and no zombie apocalypse.
All day the trail kept giving me the same message, loud and clear: Slow down! First, two section hikers let me pass so they could “take some extra time and enjoy the beautiful scenery.” Then a dayhiker chatted with me. Carol, her name was. She mentioned how crazy it was to rush through all the beauty.
But then, this afternoon I met a SOBO thru-hiker. Southbound! He started at Katahdin last September, so he’s done about 1500 miles.
What a great conversation! His trail name was Sherpa Chief. He had a thru-hiker’s grizzled beard and legs as long and lean as telephone poles. But his pack! Dear gods, his pack must have weighed 60 pounds. It was nearly as tall as I was. And he had a heavy camera around his neck. That alone probably weighed 6 pounds. What he loved most about his SOBO hike? The solitude.
I asked Sherpa Chief if he had any advice for somebody at the other end of the journey. He did: “Slow down and enjoy it.”
Doodles got a weather update last night. No rain due for several days. I hope that means there are rooms in Damascus! According to the Hiker Gossip Network, Damascus is full. Wish me luck!
A group of hikers leapfrogged with me today. Remember back when a huge group of a billionty hikers camped near me, near Bluff Mountain? (I actually think it was the day before I got sick.) It was them! The only names I remember are Coach, who’s a young woman with black braids, decidedly not what I think of when I think “coach” (cough–Andy Reid–cough), and Gus. Who’s a dog.
It was a perfect day for hiking. Cool enough for pants. Ups and downs, but none excessive—more like humps on a caterpillar’s back. There were beautiful mountains on both sides, salted with pastoral villages. Kind of like looking down at the Shire.
And tomorrow? Hopefully a hot shower and a flush toilet and a bed!