Miles hiked today: 17.3
Miles hiked total: 500.5
Miles to go: 1684.8
Today was a big day for me because I’ve finally HIKED 500 MILES!
It was a slow morning leaving camp. We had a climb bright and early up to Whitetop Mountain that I took my sweet time hiking. It just seemed like the climb was never-ending, and there was a lot of sun-exposure that sapped me of my energy. Stylez, Wing It, and I took a nice little break on Buzzard Rock where we were awarded with great views, and then we kept going. We filled up at a piped spring and then took our lunch break in the shade. A little after lunch, we ran into a hiker named Oboe Hobo who hiked the trail in 2012. He’s out for a couple of days with his dog Gerti, who hiked the whole trail with him. Oboe Hobo was great to talk with, and we stopped and chatted with him for roughly 20 minutes. He gave us a lot of great information about the trail and great advice and got us pumped for what lay ahead.
After a grueling, never-ending climb up to Thomas Knob Shelter, where I stopped for a break with Stylez, Wing It, Wiki, and a hiker named Red Turtle, I was finally awarded my first view of the ponies! That’s right, PONIES! Today I got to hike through the Grayson Highlands where wild ponies roam about and live. Before getting to the ponies, though, I had to hike through the Fatman Squeeze rock tunnel, which is literally just a small, tight tunnel that passes through two large rock formations. The inside of the tunnel was wet and cool and dripping with water. There’s an easy bypass route for anyone wanting to skip the tunnel, and I guess Wiki and Red Turtle somehow ended up on the bypass trail and then realized what happened, turned all the way around, and hiked that section again so they could go through Fatman Squeeze.
Shortly after Fatman Squeeze, we entered the Grayson Highlands and got to play with some ponies! I tried to take a picture with them, but they all walked away from me as Wing It tried to take the pictures. They just weren’t interested. Later on in the hike, I stumbled across more ponies off to the side of the trail munching on some grass and I tried to take some selfies with them. I got a couple good photos, but in the end they were much more interested in their dinner than in my camera.
Before getting to the shelter at the end of the night, I crossed the 500-mile mark. I whipped out my iPod and played The Proclaimers’ song “500 miles” (you know the one, “…and I would walk 500 miles, and I would walk 500 more, just to be the man who’d walk 1000 miles to fall down at your door…DUH DA DUH DA…”
At the shelter tonight is Snickers and Whitey, as well as a new hiker I just met today named Hog Driver who’s a Delta airline pilot.
Today was a great day!!