Still on the trail -- VA 60 (Lexington & Buena Vista, VA)
by, 05-29-2012 at 06:07 (476 Views)
I'm still on the trail and having a fun and rewarding time. I'm sorry I haven't updated anything over on TrailJournals.com -- town stops or either a whirlwind of activity (shower, laundry, resupply, etc.) or I just collapse and sleep. I have a written journal, though, so it's more a matter of me sitting down at the computer and keying it all in rather than me simply not taking notes.
Anyway, I hit the 801.1 mile marker before I was picked up and taken to Harpers Ferry for the Memorial Day weekend and much needed break. I got plantar fasciiitis coming over the Roan Highlands, which not only resulted in some low mileage days/weeks and many neros and a few zeros, but also proved to be pretty dang painful. That was 4 weeks ago or so and things look to be on the mend.
At this point, I estimate that only about one quarter of the thru-hikers who started at Springer are still on the trail right now. Call me crazy, but I attribute this year's good weather for the drop-off -- I think a lot of people took advantage of the weather and made big miles up front and then suffered various wears and tears that eventually took them off the trail. There have been some out and out injuries (broken wrists, sprained ankles, blown knees, etc.), but most people getting off for health reasons have simply worn out rather than been suddenly injured.
It seems a greater percentage of the younger crowd (those below 30) have dropped out than those older. Some got off due to injury, others due to boredom or change in priorities, and others simply ran out of money (Hot Springs, Damascus, and Pearisburg have bars within walking distance of where most hikers stay, so there you go). Of the older crowd, it seems to be wear and tear and injuries, with a few family emergencies back home thrown in. The crowd seems to be 80% fresh out of high school or college, about 15 percent retired, and a few middle-age people thrown in. And, a greater percentage of men seem to leave the trail than women.
I've enjoyed nearly every hiker's company that I met. There are some characters out there, but of those that seem sketchy, I haven't encountered one that was a traditional thru-hiker or section hiker. They are more likely drifters who have found the trail a convenient and cheap way to escape real life.
Anyway, I'm still on the trail and anticipate finishing in Maine, barring any injuries. Good luck to all who are hiking this summer. Be safe.