Day 83 to 98: Pine Grove Furnace to Delaware Water Gap, PA

When we reached the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia a couple of former thru hikers welcomed us to the suck. And despite a few low points in Virginia we had many more good timessince then. However I would say the complete suck started after Pine Grove Furnace in PA. So due to an absence of computer/library in awhile and the miserable times in this section I decided to do a summary blog post of the rest of Pennsylvania.

The beginning of this section started with some hot and humid days. The section up to Port Clinton was filled with PUDs and scattered rocks. The farther we got from Southern PA the more the rocks popped up and the Lea time the wad between rocks. The first town we came to was Boiling Springs. It was a huge disappointment. It is a designated AT community but we felt like hikers weren’t really welcome and they were trying to hide us. We encountered rudeness grin residents and weren’t welcome in a local restaurant. There was a free campsite but it was located next to railroad tracks with frequent trains coming through at all hours of the night.

After Boiling Springs the heat continued into our hike to Duncannon. We stayed at the Doyle Hotel which was very hiker friendly but a bit rundown. There was not much to do in town besides hang out at the hotel. After Duncannon the heat, rocks, and cicadas continued. In addition to the heat we faced isolated rain and thunder storms.  The wet shoes resulted in blisters which lead to me falling and hurting my Achilles. On an afternoon after getting trail magic (one of the best so far) I realized I was not going to make it to the shelter before dark. We ended up taking a short vacation from the trail. We got a ride to Lickdale to stay in a hotel one night and free camping in Port Clinton for 2 days.

Port Clinton was a cute little town and close to the largest Cabella’s in the US. While there we got a fun visit from my college friends, Sarah and Elizabeth.  Elizabeth took us to the Yuengling factory and we spent the night with her and Sarah in Readding.

From Port Clinton to Palmerton we were plagued with rain and mosquitos. The rain made rocks slippery and our feet were hurting. We went through some poorly  maintained and poorly marked trail. By the time we reached Palmerton our feet were very sore with the worst yet to come. Palmerton was the first town we fully enjoyed though. From there we did 20 miles to Wind Gap. We camped behind a bar and they let us cook whatever we wanted from the kitchen for breakfast in the morning. Then it was 15 agonizingly painful miles to Delaware Water Gap (DWG). It included 5 straight miles of rock pointed straight up like daggers to our feet. We were so exhausted we took 2 days off. Those days allowed our friend Erik (aka Waffles) to finally catch up. And so ended our time in Pennsylvania. I apologized for typos but I typed this from my phone.

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Day 49 to 51: Trail Days 2013, Damascus, VA

Trail Days in Damascus is a huge hiker festival that happens the weekend after Mother’s Day every year. Many towns have small festivals along the trail but this one is much bigger. Many different gear companies come out to sell gear or help hikers out by fixing broken gear. Past, current, and future hikers will all travel to Damascus to attend the festival. No matter where you are on the trail, current hikers will find a way to get to Damascus for this festival. We had the opportunity to talk to gear reps about their gear and to win or receive free stuff from them. Pictures here!

Friday, May 17

Friday morning Bottle Cap and I drove down to Mount Roger’s Visitor Center to pick up our friends, Moose and Grizz, and give them a ride down to Damascus. Upon arriving in Damascus, we promptly went over to tent city get a spot in tent city that would be near other hikers but not too near the late night party-ers. Our first mission at Trail Days was to get a lay of the city. There were gear booths near tent city and near the town park so we wandered around to see who was there (Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company, Alite, Kelty, Sierra Designs, Lightheart Gear, Osprey, Gregory, Princeton Tech, MSR, and many more) After scoping everything out, we got lunch with Grizz and Moose at the Blue Blaze Cafe where we met up with Twinkletoes and Voodoo. From them we found out about gear raffles from Kelty/Sierra Designs and the ATC. Right about the time the raffles were supposed to start, it started to pour rain and everyone tried to huddle in a cram under tents. The rain let up just in time for the free chili  dinner near tent city. There we were reunited with many familiar faces. We also officially met Hitched Hike (Timber, Little Engine, and the Ambassador) who we’ve been talking to for awhile on facebook. After dinner we intended to head to town for a beer run with Waffles, Grizz, and Moose but ended up exploring the portion on tent city in the woods. We ended up spending the rest of the night around the bonfire and hanging out.

Saturday, May 18

On Saturday we got up to meet Twinkletoes, Voodoo, Waffles, and Bottle Cap’s mom for breakfast, when we were stopped by some very nice people and offered us free food. So we called Waffles over and hang out with them. Their son, Rooster, was also thru-hiking this year and they were just feeding random hikers that walked by. They gave us pancakes, sausage, and eggs. We then met with Bottle Cap’s mom at the Baptist Church tent. They were providing free medical screenings to hiker and Bottle Cap got his ingrown toe nail looked at by a doctor. Then we did some more wandering around vendor and craft tents before heading to the other side of town for a free hot dog lunch. After lunch it was time for the hiker parade. The parade is essentially a huge water fight down main street between the hikers and town people. However, this year the parade was cut short due to a car accident. The driver of the caboose car had a medical emergency and hit many hikers. Luckily only 1 was critically wounded and no one was fatally wounded. By the evening everyone was stable and many of the injured hikers had returned to town. The first responders were amazing and it had a huge impact on the treatment of the hikers. Most of us couldn’t thank them enough for doing a great job.  We then headed over to catch the last raffles of the day before dinner. We didn’t win anything but we did get some free stuff. We went to the MSR gear repair tent and told them the difficulties we were having with our filter and they gave us new cartridge. Princeton Tech also gave us new headlamps because of flickering issues we’ve been having. Some gear companies really know how to support hikers. We ate at the Smoky Mountain Barbeque with Bottle Cap’s mom, Twinkletoes, Voodoo, and Waffles. The rest of the night was spent at the bonfire hanging out with Volkening, Cutoffs, and Spider.

Sunday, May 19

By Sunday most of the festival activities were over. We packed up camp and headed to the last Kelty raffle. We ended up winning a cooler and camp chair. Moose and Grizz left early with Moose’s dad so we gave Lil Engine, Timber, and Dayman a ride back to the trail around Blacksburg. The rest of Sunday was spent recovering from Trail Days and getting all our food organized to head back on the trail.

Day 22 to Day 33: Smokies to Hot Springs, NC

Find pictures of this section here!

Day 22: Fontana Dam, NC to Birch Spring Campground (5.9 miles)

The original plan for this day was to take a zero day around the Fontana Village Resort and leave the next day very early (around 4am) to beat the heat. But the previous night some other thru-hikers (Guijo, Glow Bug, Tin Man, Wolf Spider, and Yukon) left that night to do a night hike and it sounded like a good idea to us. A storm was expected for the next day around late afternoon so by night hiking we could hopefully get into the shelter before the weather got bad. So we decided that shortly before sunset we would hike out after running some errands around town. We walked with Dreamer the 3 miles into the village (to avoid paying for the shuttle) and it was another very hot and humid day. We were quite hot and exhausted by the time we got there. When we arrived we immediately retreated to air conditioning in the lodge to eat lunch. Fontana is mainly consists of a resort with hotel, cabins, general store, and gas station and the dam. So we wandered around the different places mostly eating and collecting our resupply box for the Smokies. Then we took the shuttle to the Marina and soaked our feet in the lake a little before heading back to the shelter. Once we were at the shelter it was a scramble to shower,  pack everything up, and find a place for all our food. Walking around Fontana had taken us a bit longer than we expected. While at the shelter we ran into Grizz and Moose. We had hiked with them before our hiatus and they ended up getting off the trail about the same time as us for longer than expected. It was nice to see some familiar faces from our previous hiker bubble and we made plan to meet with them the following day around the shelter. Night hiking uphill with full heavy packs was a very interesting experience. It was still very humid but a lot cooler with out the sun. Also, there were lots of toads around the lake that we were trying to avoid stepping on. It’s very hard to know if you’re getting close to the campsite/shelter or landmarks until right until you’re there. We got into the campsite shortly after midnight and tried to set up our tents and everything as quickly as possible so we could go to bed.

Day 23: Birch Spring Campsite to Russel Field Shelter (7.9 miles)

When we woke up this morning, there weren’t very many signs of clouds or the impending storm, except for turbulent winds. About an hour out, we saw Moose and Grizz again who had gotten up at 5am to avoid the storm. We ended up leap frogging with them until lunch where we all sat together at Mollies Ridge Shelter. The weather still looked really good so we decided to move onto the next shelter a little further on. When we go to the shelter the wind started to pick up and the clouds started to roll in so we decided it was a good place to stop. We filled up our water and ate a pretty early dinner and just waited for the storm to come. And then we waited some more. Everyone started to get really bored and we were having a very hard time finding ways to keep ourselves occupied. Some brought a newspaper and we attempted to do a cross word puzzle. Finally at sunset the rain started to fall. It rained all night with a little hail and thunder and lightning, but we were nice a toasty and dry in the shelter.

Day 24: Russel Field Shelter to Derrick Knob Shelter (9.2 miles)

This day was pretty uneventful. We had a lot of PUDs (pointless ups and downs) and lunch with a view on top of Rocky Top Mountain. It was one of the hardest days in the Smokies with all the ups being pretty steep. The weather went from warm and sunny to misty or windy and a bit chilly. We stayed at the shelter with Grizz and Moose again.

Day 25: Derrick Knob Shelter to Mt Collins Shelter (13.5/14.0 miles)

This was a day of big milestones: Clingmans Dome (highest point on the AT), passing the 200 mile mark, and our biggest mileage day yet. The day started out chilly but turned to nice and sunny before long. There was lots of PUDs right before getting to Clingmans Dome. We had lunch with a view at Silers Bald and leap frogged with Moose and Grizz most of the day. We also ran into Guijo, Glowbug, Tinman, and Yukon again. Also, we stopped and chatted with the family (Borders, Doobie, and their nine year old daughter, Pink Panther). They all got rides into Gatlinburg from the top of Clingmans. The hike up to Clingmans Dome is my favorite so far. We moved out of dead deciduous trees to a very cool pine forest surrounded by greenery. It smelled great and reminded me of home. Once we got to the top of Clingmans we sat around just relaxing and hanging out until sunset. We got to see a very nice sunset from the top and then we night hiked to the shelter with Moose and Grizz. It was a very clear night so we stopped occasionally to look at the stars.

Day 26: Mt Collins Shelter to Ice Water Spring Shelter (7.5 miles)

We didn’t plan on doing such a short day but our plans change many times out here. The day started out very warm but progressively got colder and windier. At Newfound Gap (the exit for Gatlinburg), we were greeted by trail magic from trail angels, Mountain Momma and Godspeed. Godspeed had hiked the trail with his sun over 2 separate years. They started hiking before his son was diagnosed with a brain tumor with a small chance of survival. However, he survived and once he was healed, father and son completed the AT. They gave us soda, brownies, and sandwiches. We were told rain was coming that night so when we arrived at the first shelter, we decided to call it a day. At the shelter we met Momma Goose/Hiker Girl who is part of a group of veterans walking of the war. She was  very nice and encouraged us to hike 20 miles the next day. Lots of other hikers called it an early day because of the weather also. That night we met the Ridge Runner, Trey, who let us burn a bunch of wood left over from construction around the shelter. So we had an nice fire going in the fireplace all night courtesy of him, Tenderfoot, and Bottle Cap.

Day 27: Ice Water Spring Shelter to Cosby Knob Shelter (20.3 miles)

Bottlecap and I pushed a big mileage day to reach our last shelter in the Smokies! It was the least hard terrain we had to do in Great Smoky Mountain National Park. The day started off foggy which ended up leading to an incredible view at Charlie’s Bunion. We got to watch the fog roll in and out on our side of the park and see the sun lighting up the other side. At around 3pm we arrived at Tricorner Knob Shelter with feet feeling good and decided to push onto Cosby Knob. However, at about 2.5 to 3 miles out I discovered I had left my camera sitting on the picnic bench at previous shelter. Bottle Cap didn’t want to lose the victory of a 20 mile day and ran all the back to retrieve it. It was fortunate because  it turned out he had left the water filter and Tex, another hiker picked up it up for us. At Cosby Knob we met many of the other warrior hikers and saw Camel and Alfalfa again. We had met them previously on top of Tray Mountain. It’s nice how the trail ends up bringing hikers back together.

Day 28: Cosby Knob Shelter to Green Corner Rd, Standing Bear Hostel (10.7 miles)

This was a much shorter day compared to the previous that took us a lot longer than expected. Our feet (especially Bottle Cap’s) were very sore from the previous day. We ate lunch on top of Mount Camerer with a nice view of the terrain to come. We hiked mostly downhill out of the Smokies to Davenport Gap and then over and around Pigeon River. We ended our day at Standing Bear Farm. It was a very chill place with beer, food, fire, and cool people. After showering, we spent most the night around the first talking with lots of different hikers. We also got our first resupply box of pre-made dehydrated meals. We ran into Alaska again who we hiked with in the Hiawassee to Franklin section. We had been waiting for mail there for several days. It was a very cool place to hang out and it was very tempting to stay another night but we wanted to get into Hot Springs.

Day 29: Standing Bear Farm to Brown Gap Campsite (9.8 miles)

We got a late start from Standing Bear but it was worth it for a biscuit breakfast. It was another very hot and humid day to start out but as we climbed closer to Snow Bird Mountain, it started to get cold and cloudy. About 0.1 miles from the top the wind picke up and it started pouring rain. We took shelter under an FAA tower on top and ate lunch to wait for the weather to pass. The rain last about an hour but the fog and windy stuck around a little longer. However, once we were at a lower elevation it was hot and humid again. We got to Groundhog Creek shelter and discovered Bottle Cap’s water bladder had started leaking and was completely unusable. So we filled up our back up bottles and decided we would have to share mine and use those. We discovered Moose and Grizz had passed us and were there about an hour beforehand. We wanted to make it to Max Patch that night but with the rain and water bladder problems we fell a bit short. The campsite wasn’t really much of a camping area and we ended up pitching our tent on the side of the road.

Day 30: Brown Gap to Deer Park Mountain Shelter (20.1 miles)

In order to get into Hot Springs early on Friday, we decided to push a big mileage day. We woke up at 4am to try to see the sunrise at Max Patch. We didn’t quite make it but it was still very beautiful morning. However, it was very windy so we took our pictures and moved onto Roaring Fork Shelter to eat dinner. We just missed Moose and Grizz again but had a nice little breakfast with Rosy Eagle. We ended up leap frogging with him most of the day. The next section of the trail felt like an endless loop of rhododendrons, streams, and foot bridges. We arrived at Lemon Gap to trail magic from Rebecca, Mary, Tom, and their dog, Rusty. They had a breakfast of sausage, bacon, eggs, cheese biscuits, and cinnamon rolls. We went up over Walnut Mountain to reach our half way point and our feet were pretty sore. I found there is a huge difference between a 20 mile day with an almost empty pack and a 20 mile day with almost a completely full pack. We went over Bluff Mountain and were very grateful to arrive a Deer Park Mountain Shelter with a nice fire already going. Rosy Eagle was there along with other hikers including Slim Jim, who we met previously in Fontana. Slim Jim informed us the Grizz and Moose had gone into town that night so we expected to see them the next day.

Day 31: Deer Park Mountain Shelter to Hot Springs, NC (3.6 miles)

We had a short hike over Deer Park Moutain and then all down hill into Hot Springs. Hot Springs is the first town that the AT goes right down main street. We met up with Moose and Grizz to share a campsite at the Hot Springs Resort and Spa. After showering, we got lunch with them at the Great Smoky Mountain Diner. We took a little detour to Bluff Mountain Outfitters where we ran into Double Dare, who we hadn’t seen since Franklin. After lunch Bottle Cap and I went to the Mineral Hot Springs for a hot tube soak before meeting up with Twinkletoes and Voodoo. After they got their tent set up, we went to the Spaghetti Dinner. We ran into the family again and it turns out Borders and Voodoo had hiked the AT a little together in ’08. Twinkletoes and Voodoo also knew Slim Jim from a Wilderness First Aid Class. The hiking world is very small. After dinner, we hung out with Moose, Grizz, Voodoo, and Twinkletoes at the tavern and then around the campfire near our tents. At the tavern we saw Duct Tape again and met his hiking partner, Valkyrie.

Day 32: Hot Springs, NC (0 miles)

Our first zero day since getting back on the trail was great. Hot Springs was having their annual trailfest. There was lots of live music, food, and just hanging out. Bottle Cap, Voodoo, Twinkletoes and I all won something in the raffle as well as Bottle Cap got a rain kilt in the Silent Auction. We participated in the rubber duck race, but none of us won. We had dinner at the Smoky Mountain Diner and then headed to the Laughing Heart Lodge and Hostel to watch O, Brother Where Art Thou. We ran into Double Dare again who was heading out the following day. There was a bonfire and drum circle after the movie but we decided to head back to camp with Twinkletoes and Voodoo around our own fire.

Day 33: Hot Springs, NC (0 miles)

This day was supposed to be a near-o but turned into a zero. We were trying to get all of our errands run we didn’t complete during the Festival and just didn’t finish in time. We stopped at our final festival event, a pancake breakfast and ate with Guijo. Then we picked up some food from Dollar General and headed to the Laundromat. After the Laundromat we headed to Hiker Ridge Ministries to sit on the couch and wait for a computer to open up. Unfortunately, the computer wasn’t available before the Ministry closed. But there we met St. Nick, who ended up convincing us to stay and tent at the Laughing Heart Lodge. We spent most of the afternoon in rocking chairs just sitting and relaxing our feet and legs. Then we walked up to the Lodge to finish charging our electronics. Chuck Norris and Tigger run the Laughing Heart Lodge and they were great! They let us stay for free that night in exchange for helping them clean around the hostel the next day. We were able to get another shower and hang out on the couch that night.

Today we head towards Erwin, TN. There is new of a nasty stomach virus going around that we hope to avoid. We will likely be staying away from shelters and the water sources around them. We really hope to get through this next section healthy. Wish us luck!

If you would like to support our hike…

Since entering the sponsorship contest and receiving 2nd place, some have asked us where they could contribute some small financial support  on our endeavor. We were very touched by this but a little hesitant. Because we were not hiking for a cause but for personal reasons, we felt awkward asking for money. However, as this demand is getting more popular, we’ve decided we should just let our friends, family, etc help us if they would like. One very nice supporter during our contest stated: “In the end the purpose of raising money for a cause is because A. the person donating sees the value in it and B. the person/people receiving the money are being given a chance to succeed.”

Kenny and I have been saving up money for the adventure and trying to plan our money carefully. However, there is always risk. What if one of us gets sick and we have to worry about medical bills? What if a minor injury requires us to rest in a town (which can be expensive) longer than expected? What if we need to replace broken gear? We would really hate to quit our hike because of financial reasons. We don’t want any one to feel obligated to send money. In fact, support can be given simply by sending an encouraging email. But if you feel included to support us monetarily and improve our chance of success, we will gladly and gratefully accept it. All monetary support will go to meals, town stays, gear repair, resupply, or an emergency fund.

Click the button to be redirected to a paypal monetary contribution page:
The button is also located on the right sidebar.

We will show our appreciation of your support by sending a postcard of our favorite view once we have completed our hike. We are not asking for any money and if you would like to know other ways to support us, head to the “how can I help?” page.

Trangia Stove

Trangia 27-7 UL/HA \\ Weight: 1.6 lbs \\ Fuel: Alcohol \\ Components: 1 L Saucepan x2, 18 cm Frying Pan, Handle, Upper and Lower Wind Screen

Kenny did most of the research when looking for our camp stove. We knew we needed a stove for two people, lightweight and compact and preferable that used alcohol. Kenny’s brother-in-law linked a video review of the Trangia and I was sold. However, Kenny took the practical side and said we needed to do more research. So we looked at several stoves on the market but decided the Trangia had everything we needed and wanted. All the components of the trangia packs into itself to make it more compact.

We like the 2 pot system because there will be two of us and some night we might not want to eat the same thing. The frying pan is nice if we every decide to make pancakes or bacon on the trail. This will likely not be frequent but will definitely be a nice luxury every once and awhile. It also acts as a pot lid to help our water boil faster. The wind screen is great because it keeps our pot elevated off the ground (and any snow we might see) and blocks out the wind from blowing out the flame. We chose non-stick pans because we hoped that it will help in cleaning of our pots.

We chose alcohol for many reasons. It is readily available throughout towns we will cross on the AT. When we can’t find denatured alcohol, we can use HEET (anti-freeze) which can be found at many gas stations. Alcohol is better for the environment and not petroleum based. Alcohol must be warmed up in cold weather before it will light well, which is a downside. Many suggest carrying it close to your back in your pack to keep it warm in winter while you hike. So far we haven’t had too much difficulty and on our first practice hike it was on the colder side. So we’ll just have to see how it continues to perform. To read more on the difference between different fuel types on the trail, read Kenny’s blog post.

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings” -John Muir

Last Chance to Help Us Out

With 1.5 hours left of the contest, Kenny and I behind by 150 votes. If you haven’t done so yet, please vote for us! This gear could really easy our financial burden our hike. It will also give us a huge mental boost while we’re out there!

So please follow this link:

http://blog.appalachiantrials.com/kenny-and-christina-want-badger-sponsorship-because/

Watch the video. Watching the video is not required for voting but we spent a lot of time on it and it’s a pretty good video, if I do say so myself. Then click the facebook like button below the video! We would also really appreciated it, if you could share our video and help us get more likes!

Footwear

**If you have not done so already, please help me and Kenny win a gear sponsorship. Information can be found here and you can vote here. Today is the last full days to vote so please help us out. We really appreciate all the support we’ve gotten so far.**

Keen Targhee II Hiking Shoe \\ Weight: 13.74 oz \\ Color: Slate Black, Seneca Rock \\ Size: 6.5 \\ Waterproof

Good footwear is a very important aspect along the trail. Since I’ll be walking 2186 miles and who knows how many steps, I wanted to make sure I have shoes that are comfortable. There’s lots of brands and lots of shoes to choose from. I recommend that hikers go to an outfitter and get their advice and try on shoe. When trying on a shoe, make sure to walk around to get a feel for them.

I purchased my boots from REI (my favorite hiking place to shop if you haven’t noticed). I didn’t know exactly what I was looking for, but I thought I wanted water proof, mid height type boot. I told the footwear associate at REI I was planning to backpack and the weight of the pack I was looking at and he recommended several different shoes. Out of the shoes I tried on, the Keen Targhee II felt the best. I originally purchased a mid boot because I am clumsy. I thought it would better protect my ankles from any sprains or breaks. I learned on my first backpacking trip the opposite was true. For some reason, I have very sensitive ankle bones and the mid boot left me with very painful bruises. I have a similar problem with I got skiing and snowboarding. So I think just can’t wear a rigid boot over my ankles. I have since purchases a low boot which I like much beter.

I also chose waterproof boots. Keen has KeenDry which is very similar to Gortex. Waterproof versus not waterproof is contested topic among thru hikers. Many hikers don’t like waterproof boots because they don’t allow their feet to breathe as easily. Also once you get the inside of the shoe wet, it’s hard to dry out. These were concerns for me but snow was a bigger one for winter. Since Kenny and I will be starting out in early March, we will encounter snow. I want to keep my feet as dry and warm as possible. So for now I choose waterproof shoes. Once summer comes I may consider switching. These pair of shoes aren’t going to last the entire trail so I will have to get new shoes. The average thru hiker goes through 3 pairs of shoes at the minimum. Once we hit summertime I will likely look for a more breathable shoe that is water resistant. Not sure if I’ll stick with Keen’s or not. As of right now I like them but as my feet swell my tastes could change. It will also depend on what outfitters have in stock in the town we choose to buy new shoes. And one final note, anyone looking to buy Keens will likely need to look for a half size to full size bigger as their footbed is a little smaller than most shoes.

Superfeet Green Insoles \\ Maximum Shock Absorption \\ Size: 6

Another very important component of footwear is insoles. Most hiking shoes don’t come with very good insole. Superfeet is a great insole brand that provides cushioning and foot support. The green insoles have a little higher arch support and require a little more getting used to. Kenny has the blue insoles. The arch isn’t as high and it felt more comfortable to him because he has a flatter foot. Superfeet doesn’t recommend using any other insoles with theirs. However, I have read of other hikers adding something like Dr. Scholl’s gel cushion under the Superfeet to add extra padding. If I end up with some really sore and achy feet I may consider added those along the way.

REI Merino Wool Hiking Sock \\ SmartWool Merino Wool Sock Liner \\ REI Polyester Sock Liner \\ REI Silk Sock Liner (not pictured)

And finally, I want to mention socks. The right socks could mean the difference between many blisters and a few. Kenny’s sister was extremely fortunate in not getting one blister while on the trail, but this is very rare. I will be taking REI Merino Wool Hiking Socks. I’m not sure how these will hold up compared to other hike socks. I’ve recently joined a facebook group for AT Thru-hiker class of 2013 and many recommend Darn Tough Merino Wool Socks. They say they last longer than SmartWool Socks. So it is likely I will be buy socks along the way. I’ll just have to see.

Now I want to give my pitch for sock liners. I believe every long distance backpacker, whether thru-hiking or section hiking, should use sock liners. First, in winter they keep your feet warmer and in summer they keep them cooler by wicking away sweat. They also keep your feet drier. If your outer sock gets wet, the liner stock stays dry. They greatly reduce friction, which causes blisters. For winter time I am carrying merino wool sock liners and for summer I’m carrying silk and polyester sock liners. I plan on carrying 3 pairs of socks. Two pairs to wear while hiking and one pair for camp (same for the sock liners). This way I’ll always have a pair of dry socks to put on when I go to bed.

“I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.” -John Muir