It has been a while since I have had access to a computer but I finally can post an update! I've had great weather for the past week or so except for the occassional downpour but that is to be expected. The saying goes, "No pain, no rain, no Maine!" lol. We are still trying to push fairly big mileage at this point and a 20 mile day has become an easier day these days. Unfortunatelly Gadget is no longer hiking with our group and we are not exactly sure where he is but we really hope to see him again soon. He took a night off at a hotel in Daleville because of a sprained ankle and we haven't seen him since. But we will be in Harpers Ferry, West Viginia in 4 days which is considered the unofficial halfway point on the AT. I am still in great health and feeling as good as you can feel out here on the trail. I'm still amazed I can feel so exhausted and sore by the end of the day only to wake up and feel ready to hike another 20-25 miles. I thank God every day for the strength and willpower to get out of my sleeping bag and put my boots on for another day of hiking.
I have met a few interesting people over the past few days that are necessary to note here. The first, named Bastard Catfish was a guy who had hiked from Springer to Damascus 5 times but had never thru hiked. He hiked with his dog trash guts and apparantly lived off unemployment so that he could keep hiking, lazy guy. Then we read about Atlas in the trail logs at the shelters and were excited to catch up to and meet him. Unfortunately by the time we caught up to him he had bought an 80s beach cruiser from Goodwill, strapped his pack on the back and his boots on the handlebars, and was attempting to ride 160 miles to Richmond to party for 3 days with his girlfriend and friends. But one individual we finally caught up to that seems very cool is Marathon Mouse who is from New York trying to finish around the same time that we plan to finish. Hopefully we will see him again and hear more of his story. Also looking forward to catching up with a guy named Renaissance who apparantly graduated from my high school in 2003.
We are finally in Shenandoah National Park though. Being here has been beautiful but a little too touristy for me. We have crossed a road called Skyline Drive too many times to count and if we haven't been crossing it, you can hear the cars driving by not too far away. Other than that factor it has had some great views and the hiking has been quite easy. The thru hikers refer to the trail in Shenandoah as a sidewalk because the climbs and descents are very gradual with few rocks and roots compared to the trail we have covered so far. This afternoon I drank one of the famous blackberry milkshakes of SNP not far off the trail at a cafe that was very tasty. I have seen a lot of deer in the park most of which are not afraid of people. I walked to within 10 feet of one deer to take a picture before it walked away uninterested. This morning was an awesome sighting as we saw a bobcat running up the trail ahead of us. Overall the weather has been great so I am in good spirits.
Tonight I have access to a computer because Bundy's (Nicholas's) family friend has taken us in, fed us, let us take a shower, and given us beds to sleep in for the night. Trail Magic to the max. I'm excited to be making such progress on the trail and will hopefully have pictures up tonight or by Harpers Ferry! Unfortunatelly we have not had the nicest technology to work with so uploading pictures has not been possible since Hot Springs. If the pics aren't on the blog because i didn't have time to upload them, they will be on my facebook hopefully. Sorry I can't document in more detail what has happened out here but im exhausted and am headed to sleep. Gotta hike in the morning! Thanks everybody for the prayers and encouragement, I pray for you much and am thankful for your support. A verse that Bundy gave me has encouraged me in my travels and I hope can do the same for you wherever you are. The verse comes from 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ then I am content with weaknessees, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamaties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."