Appalachian Trail Jindo

A 2,200 mile hike with my dog Nara.

Goodbye Virginia!

Oct 10, 2013

1,722.7 miles hiked, 463.2 miles to go.

Hard to believe the end of our journey is near.

Damascus (pop 1,072)

Oct 10, 2013

It is known as the friendliest town on the AT. I will confirm the locals were very friendly.

The town is not too far from the Tennessee border, so it was our last night in Virginia.

We stayed at Crazy Larry's hostel. I was the only thru-hiker there, so Larry joined me for dinner. He also made me breakfast (pancakes and eggs), spoiled Nara with treats, and did my laundry.

It's a small hostel, so if you can get a spot, I highly recommend Crazy Larry's. And hearing his life stories during dinner, I now understand why his name is "Crazy" Larry. He's a friendly and interesting character.

Crazy Larry's hostel

My room

Nara playing with Sally the hostel dog

Goodbye, back to the trail

The Places in Between

Oct 10, 2013

Hiking solo means a lot of quiet time--and the benefit being-- you easily get bored sitting at camp by yourself, so you end up hiking more miles for the day.

Nara is good company, but the conversations are always one-way. Oh, how I wish Nara could talk!

So after hiking a long day, I usually look forward to reading before I go to sleep. It's a nice comfort/change after only having your own thoughts running through your head all day.

The last book I read is called "The Places in Between". It's about Rory Stewart's west to east trek across Afghanistan shortly after the U.S. occupation. If you think hiking the AT is dangerous, you'll have to read Stewart's account of his walk. As to why he decided to hike across Afghanistan, he admits to not having a good answer. I think a lot of AT hikers feel the same. We just do it, and I'm glad Stewart was able to hike across Afghanistan and live to tell his story.

I asked a north-bound section hiker for a book recommendation, and since I was hiking with Nara, it reminded him of Stewart's book--Stewart adopted a dog (mastiff bred for dog fighting) along his hike in Afghanistan.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book as you get a glimpse into a country, people, culture, and customs practically unknown to most people in the West.

For instance, did you know there are four different ethnic groups in Afghanistan-- one being the Hazaras who are descended from the Mongols? They are Shia Muslims and look like East Asians. It is not surprising then that they are mocked by other Afghans for not being able to grow proper beards.


GoPro Founder on taking bold risks

Oct 10, 2013

When I have a difficult decision to make, I imagine myself as a 90-year-old guy looking back on his life. That always makes it really easy to go for it. GoPro Founder Nick Woodman

Outside Magazine

Grayson Highlands and Mt Rogers

Sep 29, 2013

A lot of people ask me what my favorite part of the trail has been, but I was always uncertain. Now, I'll just say the trail from Grayson Highlands to Mt. Rogers, the highest elevation in Virginia. It also helped that we had perfect weather.

I'm used to hiking through thick woods, but once we entered Grayson Highlands, we walked along open trail with expansive views of the surrounding area. For a few moments, I felt like I had been transported to a different time or country. It was awesome. I took a lot of photos, but they do no justice to the actual experience.

Comfortable trail

Enjoying the views

Going up

More views


Wild ponies down there

Wish I could've camped here but too early to stop

Campground maintenance

On the other side

Easy on your feet. Just watch out for the cow pies.

The lone cow

Open view

Southern Hospitality

Sep 29, 2013

Since all the north-bounders have left Virgina, and there being so few south-bounders, I was surprised to see trail magic this time of year in southern Virginia. Most of the trail magic is timed with the big crowd of north-bounders heading to Maine.

So I was quite surprised and elated to take a few breaks and enjoy a cold soda or quick snack, especially when I was running low on food and rationing.

Even at The Barn, a trucker gave Nara all the meatballs from his spaghetti dish. There is so much kindness hiking the trail.

Pastors/trail angels who gave me their snacks after finishing their day hike

A sight for sore eyes

Nice youth group

I thought someone was camping, but it was just trail magic

The Barn

Sep 29, 2013

The trail passes through a small town called Atkins. The only place to re-supply is the convenient store at the Sunoco gas station.

After I bought about 3 days of junk food to get me to Damascus, I stopped by a restaurant called The Barn.

They have a 1 lb hiker burger, which I devoured in a few short minutes. Long-distance hikers would probably be great eating challenge contestants. I thought it would give me a food coma, but I hiked another 12 miles feeling great and thinking about what I'd eat when I get to the next town.

The Barn. Right off the trail.

Chestnut Knob Shelter

Sep 29, 2013

A fully-enclosed shelter at 4,400 feet. I'm sure it gets awfully cold on this exposed summit.

Coming out of the woods and up to the shelter/summit

View from 4,400 feet

Fully-enclosed shelter

Too early to stop, so we kept trekking on

Wapiti Shelter

Sep 29, 2013

Stopped by this shelter for lunch. I wasn't brave enough to sleep here. It's located in a peaceful spot, but it has a dark past.

I had a quiet, eerie lunch here

Pearisburg (pop 2,761)

Sep 29, 2013

We took a zero day in Pearisburg. My parents came down from northern Virginia to visit us. They brought a lot of food, which I scarfed down in the motel room. And I still had room to eat at the local restaurants.

We stayed at the Holiday Motor Lodge, which is a mile from the trail head. It's a good motel if you have a dog (no pet fee). The management changed a year ago, and the staff was very friendly. The beds were clean, free wireless, HBO, and it was across the street from a Food Lion. Definitely worth a stop if you need a break from the trail.

Factory - the first thing I see walking into town

Motel sign

Dogs hanging out in the motel room

Just outside of town. I was soaking wet by the time I made it to a shelter

Views from the Virginia trail

Sep 29, 2013

Virginia is a big state!

A clearing near mountain summit

Lot of views like this

The Guillotine

More views

Walked along ridge to this view

Is this hiking or rock climbing?

Bear on the trail

Sep 21, 2013

I'm used to bears running away from us, but this one just stood on the trail watching us. It climbed on to a big rock, and it started sniffing the air.

I thought, "oh great, I hope it's not sniffing the leftover pizza or glazed donuts I packed out of town."

I started yelling "go away bear!" but it still wasn't budging. They hunt bears in this area, yet this bear wasn't scared of us, which made me a little nervous. I didn't want it to become more audacious, so I took a few steps forward, kept shouting, and banged my trekking pole on a tree, and finally the bear started walking up the hill away from the trail.

We hiked forward with the bear up on the hill and still in sight. I kept looking backwards to make sure it wasn't following. It did not, but I noticed I was hiking very fast for the next few hours, trying to put some distance between us and the inquisitive bear.

The zoom on my camera unfortunately doesn't work too well. It doesn't help that I was shaky. Being 30-40 yards from a big bear that's not scared of you is pretty intimidating. It was also scary looking into its eyes, which in hindsight I'm not sure I was suppose to be doing.

Homicide Investigation

Sep 21, 2013

Ongoing homicide investigation that happened 2 years ago. This made me uneasy.

FBI flyer

Buena Vista (pop 6,222)

Sep 20, 2013

I ended up hiking passed Waynesboro, just south of Shenandoah Park. It's a popular town stop for thru-hikers, and there's a legendary all you can eat Chinese buffet called Mings.

My friends resupplied me near the southern end of Shenandoah Park, so I pushed on. I wanted to skip Buena Vista as well since it is 9 miles (3+ hour walk) away from the trail head. Unfortunately I ran out of food and didn't want to eat spoonfuls of peanut butter for dinner and breakfast before making it to the next town of Glasgow.

It was a quiet road with little traffic, but we weren't going to walk 9 miles on a winding road down the mountain. Luckily, Nara and I got a ride into town from a bow hunter, and a ride back out from a fisherman. I guess outdoorsmen know how it feels to be up the creek without a paddle.

Riding in the back of a pickup