Appalachian Trail Journals 05-19-03

Journals From A 2003 Thru-Hike of the Appalachian Trail (by Loony)

Entry #51 – May 19, 2003

9:00 PM – OK, I fell asleep while in the middle of yesterday’s journal.

We got into town and eventually made it down to the campground, about a mile or so out of town, or on the edge of town, rather. The “tent city” was starting to crop up. A few gear manufacturers were also setting up booths.

After setting everything up, we headed back into town to check things out. Ran into Mellow Yellow. His and Blink Blink’s parents were up, and mentioned he was going to go to see The Matrix Reloaded in Abingdon if we wanted to go later, which we did – the 7:00 show. Sidewinder and Parkway came too. Mellow Yellow was glad to have a car to chauffer us around, hee hee… It was fun to do such a normal thing. Afterwards we stopped @ the store to pick up some beer and then headed back.

The campgrounds were a fun place to be – the atomosphere of some kind of big outdoor event, with the people and the partying. We met alot of new people an stayed up late a couple of the nights. Up in one area there was a big drum circle every night with a huge fire. Went there a couple times to check it out and found people getting pretty crazy.

Friday during the day we ended up buying a new tent – an MSR Zoid 1.5. It is labeled as a 2 person, but it’s a tight fit. We like it though. Plus, it’s about 3 lbs lighter than our other tent – also got lightweight rainjackets. When we got back and set everything up, it was kind of scary, how small the tent was. Using our rainjacket for the first time made me worry, too – were they going to be warm enough? We’ll find out, I guess. We had quite a box of stuff to send home – 16 pounds! Our packs didn’t seem much lighter, though.

Saturday was the big hiker parade. All the thru-hikers march down the main street in it – it was quite a sight. It is also tradition that there is a big waterfight – a bunch of kids watching have squirt guns, water balloons, etc…, to “clean off the hikers,” hee hee. We wore our rainjackets – only got squirted a couple of times. It was a fun time.

There was a a bunch of stuff set up at the park – vendors, food, hiking gear stuff, etc. The whole town had a “fair” atomosphere.

Actually made it out on Sunday, after 4 days/3 nights. Hiked only to the top of Whitetop Mtn, about 4-5 miles from where we had left off Thursday. Got going before 9 this morning.

Today was a great hike-probably our favorite part of the whole trail yet. After we got to the “top” of Mt. Rogers, the sky cleared! It was brilliant blue, and the grass was a deep dark green all around. It was beautiful! Stopped by the wonderful solar composting privy @ the Thomas Knob Shelter for a break. At the shelter, a deer came right up to us. We just sat and watched, but people muust feed them for it to come so close. After the shelter we ran into a bunch of wild ponies. There were all kinds of mares & foals of every color. It was a fabulous walk through the rest of Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area. More ponies, beautiful landscapes and a blue sky above.

Also went through Grayson Highlands State Park today, but the skies were gray and the fog had come in by that time.

We’re now at Old Orchard Shelter – tenting. The wind is really picking up and I’m hoping there is no major storm. Did about 17.5 miles today – back on track.

Tomorrow we’ll be in to Troutdale to pick up our mail drop.