Friday, May 25, 2007


Greetings from Daleville, Virginia! One-third through the AT, and only 130 trail miles to Waynesboro and the Shenandoah. Hiking with White Crow, Hungus, and Earthquake

Progress has been good since leaving Trail Days. I got to see a lot of my old friends from the 2005 thru hike and newer friends from 2007. It was great to let off steam, but after being out here for 7 weeks, you get used to spending a lot of time with just you and the trail. It gets to be sensory overload, and you look forward to getting back to the woods.

Our first day back, we took it easy...hiked about 6 miles in. Next day we did 19 miles so we could have the opportunity to stay at Dragon's Tooth. Terrific sunset before it sank behind some clouds.

The wildlife is really starting to come out now. Every day there are deer, pileated woodpeckers -- plus these really big lizards. Bigger than the ones on the Pacific Crest head with a copper body.

After leaving Dragon's Tooth, we put in another 18 miles and made it to Tinker Cliffs. We all slept right next to the cliff itself -- I've been doing a lot of cowboy camping now that the weather's warm, and you don't really roll around a lot like you do at home, so sleeping next to the cliff isn't as dangerous as it sounds, plus it made for a beautiful morning. We hiked another 11 miles to Daleville

I'm gonna try and average around 12-13 miles a day up to Waynesboro. I'll try to get into town in the morning so I can maximize the amount of time I spend lining up a canoe for the NFCT portion of the trip. I'll also send Rob and Stan some more photo CDs, so hopefully those will be on the blog soon!

Take care!

Jason aka TDS

P.S. One more thing: Rob found this really cool Google Map/AT mash up that shows every shelter on the trail -- it's clickable and you can find out a little bit about each shelter by clicking on it -- be sure to bookmark it:

Thursday, May 24, 2007


TDS has been hitting the trail hard over these past few weeks. He spent every night on the trail from May 2 to May 17. Virginia is a tough state -- by the time NOBO hikers reach the state, temperatures and humidity are getting to uncomfortable levels. There is a wide variety of terrain, including a number of flatter areas. Almost 1/4 of the trail is in the state of Virginia, and it's broken many thru hikers.

Last weekend, TDS took a brief break and attended Trail Days in Damascus Virginia. He's starting to see lots of animals, including snakes (but no bears yet), and it feels more like summer now that everything is greening up. His attitude is strong, and he hopes to make some serious time through Virginia. He's at least 50 miles ahead of where he was in 2005, and he's increasing that distance every day.

As of Monday morning, he was in the process of hitching back up to Troutville to get back on the trail -- which was his approximate location on May 28, 2005.

More updates to come!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Damascus, Virginia, Part II

Hello again. Two posts in one day....

Congratulations PACE on your successful surgery. I wish you a speedy recovery and look forward to see your cool scar one day. American Spirits is back in my pack as a staple. Now, if I only had a 1 lb stainless steel cig roller.

Unfortunately, the Keen Targhees I purchased in Hot Springs, NC were not the right shoe. In fact, the shoes only held together for about 100 miles. The toe plates began to delaminate and receed from the body of the shoe. Next, the glued on nobs of the sole began to come off. It is too bad this shoe does not have a one-piece molded Vibram sole. If these shoes did, they would be the best thing on the AT outside of a real hiking boot. The waterproofing works fast. The shoes are comfortable. The toe plate helps keep the pain down when bumping rocks. I won't use these shoes for anything but "urban hiking" until they goto a Vibram sole that is one piece, not little pieces glued to a bigger piece. I have gone with the Montrail- Hard Rocks.

From Damascus, I am bouncing all winter gear: gaitors, long johns, base layer shirt, one pair socks (actually they are being thrown away) and some smaller items. Before long, I will go with my summer bag and should then always be under 30 lbs. Yee haw!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

No bears or snakes but I am eagerly waiting. More pileated woodpeckers hopefully are waiting and some deer would be nice to see.

With respect to my attempt at thru-paddling the NFCT...My plan is to hike as far as I can get by the end of June. I am hoping this mark will at least be Delaware Water Gap, but it would be nice to have gotten through NY and NJ. From there, I will get to Old Forge, NY and begin my paddle around July 4th'ish... Many have said they would like to come paddle and I am hoping everyone will have the opportunity. I would then complete the paddle by Mid-August or so and then come back and finish my thru hike of the AT. A canoe and some gear is what I am lacking. But my team is working on that aspect as I type. As I hike North and as the time ticks away the dream of this paddle becomes more intense. The time is nearing and my level of anxiety is growing.
I hope to visit with NFCT staff in the coming weeks. And I appreciate the advise and logistical help they have provided. Please check out their website to learn more of the trail:

Finally, I am enjoying the hike. The weather has not been too tough and the trail seems easier this time around. To meet the great people, we get to out here, daily has always seemed to restore my faith in humanity. I love the brotherhood, the camradiere, the work, the accomplishments, the challenges, the experiences and yes, at dinner time, I love some sort of Liptons noodles...We are truly blessed to be here, walking.

Thanks to Rob, Carlynn for your expertise and time spent helping. I could never thank you enough. Thanks to Mom and Dad. Thanks to Team Portland- Bricklayer, Cross Stitch, Hi Pockets, Green Bean, JO and PACE. Your care packages are helping and I love the little things like earplugs and plastic bags to put Mountain Home dinners in, etc.

Thanks LEKI! Each time I post a journal entry I could probably tell of another story where your poles saved my life or from injury. You have a life long customer. I look forward to seeing you all at Traildays!

Thanks Granite Gear! Your Nimbus Ozone is carrying my weight like a champ. A few holes and tears but the pack still rides like a charm. It may need some washing one day. haha. Keeping building great products and I look forward to seeing you at Trail Days in 2007!

Thanks Chef Paul/ Etowah Outfitters! Great, simple, functional products for the long distance hiker. I now have about 1500 miles on your alcohol stove and nearly 3500 miles on your sil nylon stuff sack/ backpack. See you at Trail Days.

Take care, Happy Trails and Best wishes,Love,Totally Different Subject, TDS
Totally Different Subject

Damascus, Virginia -- Part I

Greetings Hiking fans and how are you today?

From Damascus, VA, Mile: 459.5.

Thanks for all the guestbook entries! It is so nice to hear from so many folks. And yes, I will try to be more consistent with posting journal entries.

The weather is warming and reminding me that Summer is not too far off. However, the mornings and evenings are cool and those breezes come at the most opportune time. With the warming weather the green color is showing through Winter's litter. The birds are out and provide fantastic shows during a trailside break. I have seen a pileated woodpecker already and these are my second favorite trail birds. My favorite is the loon.

While walking along the trail, up a ridgeline, I noticed leaves covering the ground. Not a big deal, right? Because there are leaves everywhere. Well, these leaves were alive with noise. Noise that sounded like you were broadcasting fertilizer pellets atop these leaves. What in the world could this noise be I wondered? I sure could not see what was making the noise...until I bent down and noticed that the noise was being made by new grasshoppers jumping around as they heard me walk by.

My last post was from Erwin, TN. Now, live from Damascus, VA I update the blog. As you may already know, leaving Erwin, TN is always hard to do. As difficult as it is to pull ones self from Ms. Janet's takes some discipline. Ms. Janet is doing great and it was a treat to see her again. Always a great time and a great experience had in Erwin.

SPOONMAN, a great friend, who I hiked with in 2005 called on April 20 to let me know he was coming up to visit. He drove up from Spartenburg, SC and we had a ball catching up. Spoon got his pack ready and we left for the trail. We hiked and talked for an hour or so and then chose an ideal campsite for the night. It was great catching up with Spoonman and to hear how things were in his life. I hope to see Spoonman again at TrailDays.

The following day got a late start. It was a bit sad to see Spoonman have to hike back the opposite direction. And I could tell he was saddened to have to go back. The climb up lead me atop Unaka Mountain. What a special place it is here. The top of the mountain was covered up with Hemlocks. Once inside the canopy, I noticed how much darker it was than just a few minutes before. Complete silence was what I heard. Sitting down gave me a chance to realize how insignificant I am in relation to these woods.

Before I arrived just shy of Unaka Mountain the day before, I crested a bald named- Beauty Spot. And very appropriately named. There were a few hikers that stayed. A meteor shower occured that evening and although I watched the skies from my sleeping bag I could not tell you that I was seeing a meteor shower but the stars were crystal clear as the sky.

You know, the great thing about hiking this trail over and over is the opportunities you get to see everything in any kind of weather. For instance, in 2005 when I went up and over Roan Mountain the weather was cold, rainy and windy. I remember seeing BAMA and NEMO (AT 04, PCT 06) up there doing trail magic. I was soaked, couldn't see anything, no views, and did not really even want to stop and visit. This time around, the weather was beautiful! I could see so much of what I missed the first time. Heck, I even made the side trip to the shelter, which is very, very nice. IT was a little chilly up there but comfortable.

I bypassed Overmountain Shelter this time but the hike up Round Bald and Jane Bald provided wonderful 360 panoramic views. We are still in the Roan Highlands area and the balds and the grass and straight uphill trails are breathtaking. I found myself stopping to snap photos often. Again, the scenery from Hump and Little Hump Mountains are difficult to define.

HUNGUS, EARTHQUAKE and I have been hiking together for the last couple of weeks. Great guys...even if they are from Jersey. Hahaha. Just kidding as I love New Jersey. Hungus had arranged a ride from US321/ Hampton, TN back to Hot Springs, NC for Trail Fest. Of course, the days leading up to the hitch I was planning on heading North but when BOBBY and RAMBLER arrived with a Suburban full of food, well, I headed back with the gang to Trail Fest.

Trailfest was great! Thanks Jack Colton, Hot Springs and everyone else who made it a great time. It was nice to see DOMINO, NOONIN, SEEKER, SUNSHINE, BIRDY/ MUSCRAT (The Honeymooners) from 2005. I never actually got to meet The Honeymooners so it was such a treat to meet and get to visit with them. Oh yea, I got to meet some great 2007 Thru hikers that are now behind. Great seeing NICOLE and CERTAIN. Nicole, I hope you are feeling better. PERSISTANT, I love your trail name!

Back on the trail, and just one zero day. Note, I have only taken 4 thus far which is less than I had taken, at the same time, back in 2005. The hike around Watauga Lake ensued. The lake had filled and the color of the water seemed almost emerald like.

A reroute from TN91, wound us up the trail through an old cattle farm. The trail was cut through fields of grass and we hiked past old barns, chicken houses and feed boxes. HUNGUS, EARTHQUAKE and I breaked near the corral and thought that we had enough water to stay here over night. On to the next water source...

19.2 miles into Damascus, VA. Began at 6:03am and I was able to break camp in 20 minutes, which is a record. The first thing I ate was a big chefs salad smothered in buttermilk ranch dressing, several pieces of pizza (compliments of Spaghetti-Oh no AT 06) and several Pepsi's. When do we get back to Coca Cola country?

Why do my socks smell like amonia? If you have an idea, please respond.

End of Part I.

I hope that everyone is fine.

Happy Trails, TDS

Totally Different Subject