My friend Bill once asked me to join him on his through hike of the 2200 mile Appalachian Trail. I told him I don’t backpack and I don’t do arduous hikes. “I know,” Bill said. Apparently he read an article that stated only 1 in 8 people who start the Appalachian Trail actually finish. Bill decided to corral 7 hiking companions who would fail early to increase the odds of his success.
The Appalachian Trail has reentered my life thanks to my adult son, Nick. He is hiking the length of the trail through Virginia, a total of 550 miles. Nick did not even bother asking me to join him. But I am still a critical part of his hiking adventure. Along with my husband, we are his re-supply team. We are meeting him at pre-arranged locations to provide him food and camp supplies.
There are many accounts of hiking the Appalachian Trail (the funniest has to be Bill Bryson’s “A Walk in the Woods.”) I am using this blog to share my adventures as a human pack mule.
Nick’s hiking adventure started on Sunday, July 20 at that well know camping outfitter, Harris Teeter grocery store. We were visiting my daughter in Winston Salem, NC. My husband and I planned to drop Nick in Damascus, Virginia the following day so he could walk home 550 miles to Harpers Ferry, WV.
Nick had to carry 7-10 days’ worth of food to get him to the first resupply rendezvous in Pearisburg, Virginia (mile 164). I joined him at Harris Teeter to buy essential items like tuna fish, pasta dinners, packets of oatmeal, peanut butter, powered drink mix, granola, rice, chocolate and fruit. Watching his selection of food reinforced my decision never to backpack. The total bill came to $78.00. The most costly item was a gift from me: Starbucks Via Italian dark roast instant coffee packets. That little item rang up at $7.99. I regard coffee as essential as toilet paper when dealing with the great outdoors so I happily paid the price.
Damascus, Virginia: The Beginning
We drove to Damascus, Virginia on Monday, July 21. The Appalachian Trail goes right through the downtown. Damascus (population 2800) also lies along the very popular Virginia Creeper Trail, a multi-purpose rail trail that extends 35 miles. The town is filled with businesses catering to hikers and cyclists. Most of the Appalachian Trail through hikers were long gone. They had to pass through Damascus in May to avoid a winter arrival in Maine, the trail’s terminus.
Nick shouldered his backpack (weight: 40 pounds) and started walking. My husband and I joined him for approximately 15 minutes until we decided heading back to an ice cream stand in town was a better option.
It took Ron and me about 4 hours to drive home to West Virginia It will take Nick 6 weeks to cover the same distance on the Appalachian Trail. I could only admire his gumption as I sipped my Starbuck’s Latte and set the cruise control to 70 mph.
More to come when we meet Nick at mile 164 of his trek.