May 24 - Zero in Damascus
I've skipped ahead about 75 miles due to the 3 hostel shuffle. Not sure what to do next. I think I'll just walk out of here tomorrow going north and not worry about "hiking every blaze". That's not what this hike is about for me, anyway, hiking every foot of the AT. It's about self discovery and not getting to a geographical point on a map. It would have been nice perhaps, to say I'd hiked very foot but a shuttle back to where I left off would cost $100 or more and there's no one with whom to share the cost.
There's a guy called Jeff at Mt. Rogers Outfitters who yesterday, impressed me with what he said about measuring my feet to see if my shoes were the right size or not. I have not had my feet measured in, what, forever? What a concept.
I spent the morning applying my new found blister repair and prevention knowledge to my foot care. I visited the local pharmacy, applied lotions and bandages and walked in my comfy (from my bounce box) shoes.
I waited until the afternoon, because that's when feet are their largest, to seek out Jeff but was told he had taken packages to the post office and then had to cut the church's lawn and then had to go to his daughter's graduation. Apparently he's the only one at MRO who knows about shoes. Darn!
I dashed to the post office, aided by the fact it was off the main drag and anyone going down there would have to come back the same way. Sure enough I spied a bicycle wheel as I peered down the block and headed him off as he came back up the road. He remembered our "deal" and said he'd be back in 30 minutes after he cut the lawn. No problem.
He was back a bit later than agreed upon but he did came back!
Jeff is an interesting guy and an A.T. character. He has no watch, no cell phone and he takes his time. When I met him yesterday he was talking about the Zen of the trail. He wasn't the Zealot of Zen but it was weird he was talking about what I thought I needed at the time.
We had just shuttled from Black Bear. I was looking for foot care and the South Africans were looking for equipment upgrades. And there was no room at the hostel. I walked up the street to the the Hiker Hostel and then to several B&Bs and they were all full. It was raining off and on. I left my pack in front of MRO secretly hoping someone would steal it, putting me out of my misery. But it was still there when I got back, still homeless.
And then Jeff, who I'd talked with earlier about a bunk, started talking about Zen and life and relaxing and going with the flow. Did he see something in my face? Fifteen minutes later, two hikers decided to leave and another said he'd bunk with this other guy and suddenly I had a room to myself!
Don't sweat it. The details work themselves out! Yes, sometimes they do.
Then later last night an older dude walks in. No bunks available except, ahem, the one in my room. Knowing what it's like to be without place to rest one's head, I offered up the other bunk in my room. He was grateful. But I don't think he showered. And I know he hadn't done laundry. He ponked. Big time. OK let's be honest, he stank to high heaven. I've always done laundry coming into town. Who wouldn't? Why not be clean? I gagged all night long. He thanked me repeatedly for sharing my room but ...
So back to the Outfitters. Jeff measured my foot. What an education! From heel to big toe knuckle I'm a size 12 but my stubby toes indicate I'm a size 10 and combined it comes to an optimal shoe size, for the trail, of 11.5. And that's what my Oboz are. Then he said I did not have a wide foot! What? I've been buying the wrong shoes for years!
Long story short, all I needed to make my new shoes work, in his opinion, was size F Superfeet insoles. I tested a demo pair and they did feel better on the blisters. There's way more to what he said but it all made logical sense so I hope he's right. He even showed me a way to tie the laces to minimize movement within the shoe.
You have to understand the context of this procedure, though. It took about an hour. He was constantly interrupted by folks and good old boyz asking about the graduation and one good old boy came up and asked about a still he wants Jeff to take over. I am not making this up. Jeff even asked me if I'd like to go the graduation. He'd really like it if I'd drive, if I was up to it. These people are laid back. Life just is, is hard, and there's no use rushing cause the end will get here soon enough. Lessons for all of us.
This is Laurel Creek in Damascus, in flood condition.