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© 2013 Linsen. All rights reserved. 20130527-091427.jpg

The Road to Damascus

Day 33; Mile 467.

I reached Damascus, VA on Saturday evening after averaging more than 20 miles per day the past week, and walking 26 on Saturday. Not only have I now been hiking for more than a month, but I’m also in my fourth state – Virginia.

The week’s been a good one. On Monday, after a late start from Erwin, I passed a group of former thru-hikers camping by the Trail and was given a soda – a pretty big deal when you’re out hiking.

On Tuesday I met a cool girl called Wings, who shared some salami with me after a really long, tough climb. We ended up in the same shelter that night, along with a retired English teacher, Beatnik, who’s been section-hiking for 27 years and will finish his last 73 miles of the AT this week.

Wednesday morning I stopped to see the next shelter, Overmountain, a converted barn. There I finally met the other South Africans (Ian and Leslie / Springbok and Kitty), whom I’d both been introduced to by a mutual friend via email, and also heard about from countless other hikers. It was good to hear a familiar accent.

Thursday I slept in the tiny and somewhat rundown village of Hampton, TN, before Friday and Saturday’s push to reach Damascus. Sunday was a much-needed zero day here, and last night I was treated (by surprise) to a real South African braai. Ian and Leslie have expat friends visiting them here, and came to pick me up to join their supper. Two other familiar hikers, Little Bird and Halflife, were passing by and promptly also invited. It was a great evening – a good touch of home.

My body keeps throwing up new aches and pains, leaving me feeling at once strong and fit but also tired and sore. I am enjoying the hike and the simplicity of it all, but was also hit in the last few days by a sense of diminishing returns. I can tell all this is doing me good and I’m glad to be here, but at the same time there’s very little stimulation or novelty. I am unsure how long it will remain worthwhile, or more worthwhile than other things I could be doing. I’ll join my family for a holiday in 3 weeks, though, so at least till then I’m hiking on :-)

Hiker party with soda, snacks and beer. What more could you ask for when hiking in the wilds?

There were some lovely balds this week – makes a great change to be able to see a view!

Wings in her sleeping bag

Beatnik giving a stern schoolteacher look

Overmountain shelter, a converted barn

The aptly named ‘Hardcore Rapids’

South Africans enjoying some braaivleis


  1. Suzaan
    Posted 27 May ’13 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    Lekker om te lees, vasbyt, dink aan jou!

  2. Jan
    Posted 27 May ’13 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

    Lekker om te lees! Ek kan nie glo dat jy al so lank aan die gang is nie! O m te dink dat ons hier rondhardloop en jy maar net elke dag pligsgetrou marsjeer.

    Diminishing returns also apply to doing things that seem to be worthwhile ;)

  3. irize
    Posted 27 May ’13 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

    Hi Linsen…
    enjoy the small things in every day like you do… and you’ll be fine!

    hang in there!
    Liefde & hugs

  4. Liehann
    Posted 28 May ’13 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    You must finish it or you’ll be sorry you didn’t. As someone who has things not yet finished, I know!

  5. Tamzyn
    Posted 28 May ’13 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    I disagree with Liehann (sorry Liehann :-))… I don’t think you need to finish in order to reap the benefits of this experience. If the returns are diminishing then there’s nothing wrong with leaving the trail before you planned to. Besides, you can always do like Beatnik and come back throughout your life to section-hike the rest. With all the time you have to think on the trail, plus you EXCEPTIONAL reasoning abilities, I have no doubt that you will choose the best course of action without regret.

    I’m very proud and impressed with what you have achieved already and I hope that you continue to make the most of every step.

    So glad you got a taste of home to keep you going.

    Thinking of you every day!

    Lots of love

  6. Anso Adie
    Posted 28 May ’13 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    As this is your journey I feel lucky to share ,be it but a glimps. Go as you please:)

  7. Lirize Loots
    Posted 28 May ’13 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    The people you meet seem to bring the novelty… but you can meet people on and off the trail. It promises to be an interesting year regardless of where your wanderings take you. Thanks for sharing so much. Love you!

  8. Posted 5 Jun ’13 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    Liewe Linsen – heerlik om te kon saam lees terwyl jy stap. Wens jy kon n bietjie van die vars lug en rustigheid met mense in besige en chaotiese plekke in die wereld deel.Ten minste is die lang dae se stap deel van jou nou – a reservoir you will be able to plug into during other busier chapters. I have been quiet but not lacking in interest and participation! Stuur vir jou baie liefde. Ek weet julle sal die familie saamwees weer heerlik vind – hoop die bene en die hart hou goed tot dan. Louie

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