Alex Oetzell

Really weird side story... So my good friend who lives in DC showed me a very interesting envelope with x-rays inside. There was very mysterious back story. She found them stuffed at the bottom in a very hard to reach spot of her desk. The X-rays were of a brain with an obvious tumor, but the writing on the envelope and X-rays was Chinese characters. The date was over a decade ago. I sent photos to a friend who speaks Chinese and she translated them for us. Apparently they were form a hospital in Beijing, China. And the man was in his late 60s with a 

Crossing into Virginia, I headed inland toward Roanoke, and parked and slept at the trailhead for a long awaited hike, Mcafee Knob. Everyday prior was sunny except for the day of the hike. Rain and fog. This lookout point, I've heard, is usually one of the most beautiful along the Appalachian trail, but today it was blanketed in fog, and you could literally see absolutely nothing. None the less, it was a gorgeous hike, 9 miles round trip (including me going the wrong direction). I met a few just wonderful through-hikers. Guys that were doing the entire applicant trail, passing though something like 14 states, over 2,000 miles in a span of 5+ months. 

Virginia & Maryland

critical mass in his head. We presume he's dead now, but how they ended up at the bottom of a desk in Washington DC is a mystery. Interesting enough to share. So I spent my days in Arlington, hoping in and out of DC. Walking dogs to earn a little bit of money. I also saw a good friend I met in Italy, and we biked all around the mall at night, to check out the monuments, which was really a great time. On my last day with M. I got a tour of her office in the Pentagon and got one last Pakistani meal before heading back out on the road, north north north.  

Also West Vigrinia and D.C.

I criss-crossed over the trail a few more times, parking in beautiful rainy places along rivers, don't know names of some of the towns, drank tea, moved slow. Got a beautiful sunrise hike in while in the Shenandoah mountains, still on the Appalachian trail. Saw a natural bridge and some Amish folks. 

My last little stop before I hit D.C. was a little town called Burkittsville, the town my favorite cult movie took place, Blair Witch Project. I was stoked to walk around the little town and cemetery in the countryside of Maryland. Then I FINALLY got to D.C. to see one of my besssttt friends! I stayed with M. for a few weeks and really enjoyed my time eating Pakistani food, rooftop bar hopping and dog walking' with her and her pup Sandor, the hound. Very much might be the best two weeks ever.

We all loaded up in the bus after the hike and drove to a near by buffet full of thru- hikers and local Roanoke families. I'll tell you what, I have been on a few sports teams, including the men's crew team, and I have never seen anyone eat like these hikers. I was very impressed by the depth of knowledge and self thru-hikers have. One compared backing for 5 months straight to Taoism, walking all the time. When he's hungry he eats. When he's thirsty he drinks, when he's tired he sleeps, and life along the trail is as simple as that