May 18: Damascus, VA (surprise!) (mile 530.4)

for those who might have noticed, the total mileage was updated to reflect the location where i got off the trail yesterday… i was guessing when i plugged in a number the first time :-). it’s been a slow day so far. i’m just hanging out and eating as much as possible… same as every other day off. i’ve been seeing A LOT of people who i haven’t seen for a while. i even ran in to Paul/Genesis, with whom i did most of my test hike last year. he finished his thruhike and came back this year for trail days. i was really glad to see him because i never got any information about how his hike turned out last year (he doesn’t have email or access to a computer). it seems my trail name is now “Three Sock”. it’s kind of a long story, but way back in Georgia i met a couple named Mad Man and Bloody Stump. they were two of eleven or so people at dinner one night. somehow the subject of misplaced items came up. it seemed everyone had lost something along the way. in my case, it was a sock. i thought i had packed two pairs of socks but only had three socks to show for it. so they christened me “Three Sock”. there was some animated discussion about how i was using the third sock (use your dirty little imaginations a bit on this one :-), but i should note that the extra sock is size large). of course the real story wasn’t very exciting: the third sock became my camera case and i lived with one pair of socks. anyway, the name never quite stuck and i totally forgot about it. but when i ran in to Bloddy Stump and Mad Man again yesterday, they reminded me of their suggested name, and everyone else seemed to like their suggestion. i guess i was a bit to drunk to protest, so now i’m Three Sock. it still feels odd to be something other than Mark, but maybe i’ll warm to it. i mooched a bunch of free gear from the various vendor booths around town. the guy at the Leki (trekking pole company) booth cleaned and repaired my trekking poles, and i got a free packtowel for taking a survey at the Subaru booth. don’t ask me why a car manufacturer would have a booth at a hiker party. the girl who worked there was cute and i didn’t need any other reason to visit the booth. i think i impressed her by answering the survey question about which state has the most designated nation forest areas… north dakota, don’t asked me how i knew that. earlier today i listened to a lecture by Nimbelwill Nomad, a guy who hiked all the way from Key West to Cap Gaspe Canada (4800 miles) in 1998, then the opposite direction in 2000. he’s a bit of a legend out here on the trail, so it was really nice to get a chance to hear him speak. milkshakes are calling. more updates later :-).