Day 39 (5/19/19) R
Miles – 21.5
Total miles – 474.2
We got up early and we were hiking by 7:15. Gutsy will be hiking with us. We have over 400 miles of toughing up so we hike faster then she does. So, Gutsy started to hike an hour earlier then we did. We will catch up with her later today. Today’s trail is even easier than yesterdays. We had an easy up in the beginning of the day and then we walked the ridges. There were a lot more clouds this morning and a higher chance of rain later today. We hiked quickly throughout the morning, with only one stop. As we were hiking, we bumped into Legs and Marathon still camped. Legs was sitting on a log looking a bit forlorn. We asked how is he doing. He said fine except a bear got to their food last night despite having Ursa Sacks which are suppose to be a bear proof bag. They are much lighter than carrying bear cannisters thus preferred by backpackers. Despite this, many National Parks that require bear cannisters do not allow Ursa Bags because they do not believe them to be bear resistant. The bear actually did not get the food out of the bag, however it was mutalated. Food was crushed and liquid or paste like items oozed out. They are half a day from Damascus, so they will be fine from the stand point of food. We walked on down to Low Gap and found a cement picnic table. Of course we had to stop for a break. It is a treat to sit at a table and eat. Throughout the day the clouds thickened. In the mid-afternoon it rained. The thunder rumbled about us. Soon after the rain started we caught up with Gutsy. It was a small thunderstorm and soon passed by. Odometer showed up as we got close to Damascus. He informed us of an older couple who were camped just a head with their two cats. Being cat lovers, we would have to stop by and meet these two and their pets. Soon we came across them and yes they had their two cats with them in a carrier that was open so they could come and go as they pleased. They had leash on. The cats were named Gitzmo and Punkin. We talked a few minutes before heading on. Soon we were all walking into town. Trail Days ended today, but there still a good number of hikers in town because it was difficult to find a place to stay that was not filled up. It took a number of calls to nail down a room for tomorrow, but we found a very nice one called The Dancing Bear Inn. We will be taking a zero her tomorrow to take care of everything. After unloading our gear from the van, we had to say goodbye to Odometer and Gutsy. They have a five hour drive home and after a twenty one mile day of walking, Gutsy will be tired. We appreciate everything they have done for us which has been quite a bit since our tip began. Thank you Gutsy and Odometer!!!!
Thoughts on the horrible hiking incident on the AT:
There are lots of emotions on the AT, as information has come out about the horrendous attack and murder of fellow hikers. Some are distraught and others just do not want to talk about it. For ourselves, we see another horrible deed committed by a very messed up human being that has occurred. He has destroyed the life of others and himself. We are thankful we were far away from the situation. We are no more afraid of being out here on the trail than at home. As Tolkien’s famous quote says, “It is dangerous business stepping out your front door each morning. . .” In the beginning of our trip, due to being so sick we lost nearly a week of hiking time. I have been frustrated that I caused so much delay. We could be one week further along. Odometer pointed out to us that if we had not taking the time off in the beginning, we would have been right in the middle of all the mess. We would have encountered the young man at some point and who knows what else. I now say thank goodness we lost six days of hiking!
As we entered Virginia today and left Tennessee behind, I was busy thinking of you. You always wanted to go home to Tennessee. When I was a little girl, you read a peom to me about the Smokey Mountains. The only line I can remember said something like this, “when I look out across the Smokey Mountains, I see more shades of green than a box of Crayola Crayons.” Finally after witnessing the Smokey Mountains for myself, I clearly see what the poem was saying. I also was blessed with a sighting of your favorite Tennessee flower, the Lily of the Valley, a rare flower to spot on the AT, according to Gutsy. I miss you terribly even though you lived such a troubled soul on this planet. There is not enough space in the universe to contain my love for you. Such an old soul you were, who was way a head of your time. Your heart and soul were more evolved than most preachers I ever heard speak in church. You are right, about our world, one day a big rock will be removed and all the ugly, creepy, crawly stuff of the world will be exposed. No longer will it be able to hide. Things will get worse before they get better. You read the future well. You were far too sensitive for this world, which repeatedly delivered many cruel blows to you. You could never find your shield and sword to defend yourself. Nearly every night as we hiked in Tennessee, I would go to sleep listening to a song by Aurora called Why Did You Have to Go? I need a box of tissue everytime I listen to it. However I do not have any. Instead all I have is the back of my dirty hand. It has been a treausre to walk in your home state that you loved so much.