Passionflower is back in business! Trail days in Damascus was a great break from the trail. I was able to get my mind and body back into hiking mode. The festival was fun, and I was able to catch up with hikers who have passed me and who I have passed. Everyone had great stories, and had heard about my bear encounter.
Every year, trail days hosts a hiker parade. Past hikers and current hikers unite to walk the city and be honored, or so I thought. Turns out it is tradition to bomb the hikers with water balloons, water guns, and garden hoses. I had no idea this was going to happen, and I spent the entire parade ducking for cover behind other hikers. They were even bombing us from the rooftops!
Geared up and ready, we got a late start back on the trail on Sunday. Combined with the car sickness from all the winding roads back to the trail, (remember, we aren't used to going more than 3 miles an hour) we only got about 4 miles that day.
For the next couple days, we hiked in rainy conditions through some pretty tough terrain. Yesterday, I think was the toughest part of the trail, physically, thus far. I'm not a great rock climber, and doing it with a 35 pound monster(aka backpack) on my back. There was some serious maneuvering going on. Hiking poles tossed aside, needing both hands to hold on, I was just praying not to end up in the emergency room.
One mile before our destination, we came to a parking lot where we knew we had some trail magic waiting. Our friend, "walk and eat" had his parents visiting on the trail for a few days. They had an RV and were cooking hikers breakfast and dinner every day. The night before, they felt bad that they didn't have vegetarian cuisine for me and cheeks. Yesterday, we were surprised with veggie dogs. Those were the best three veggie dogs and Dr pepper I have ever had! There's no magic like veggie dog magic. I got up the next mile with ease after the nice dinner break. I had good company at the shelter. A couple wise guy section hikers had heard of my bear encounter and had all sorts of new trail names for me. They settled on "her hieness, queen of the bear wrestlers". Luckily, I am able to laugh about the story now. Speaking of bears, I finally got to see one. Two days ago, I saw a bear about 50 yards away. Luckily, this one was running away from me, like it's suppose to. It made the whole bear thing a little less scary, and it was actually pretty cute.
Today, we made it to McAfee knob, which is a famous part of the trail for the view. I have been sitting here for 2 hours now, waiting for the clouds to lift. I would love to get a clearer look at the view, but for now, here I sit.