The Independence father and son hiking the Appalachian Trail continue to walk a lot and post a few online updates.

The Independence father and son hiking the Appalachian Trail continue to walk a lot and post a few online updates.

Last weekend they were taking in a festival in Virginia.

“Have been hanging out in Damascus, VA for the weekend,” they wrote Sunday. “It’s Trail Days (Woodstock for hikers) and it’s been a blast so far. Gear reps have been very helpful, and all the free gear handouts have been awesome. Hopefully tonight we’ll win the big drawing from Backpacker magazine!! Keep following us via our website because we’re going to fly through Virginia!”

Father and son Steven and Matt Spydell set out on the 2,178-mile trail almost seven weeks ago.

They started at the south end of the trail, near Atlanta, and have what Steven concedes is a somewhat aggressive schedule to hike an average of 15 miles a day and reach the other end, in central Maine, by the third week of August.

They are using the trek to raise money for a group called Water for People, which works in developing nations to promote self-sustaining water and wastewater systems. They are posting their progress at http://hikingforwater.org and at http://twitter.com/hikingforwater.

Even though they started from the southern end of the trail and started well into spring in the South, they have encountered sleet and snow in addition to rain and hail. But they have pressed ahead. In a post earlier this month, they said they had just covered 90 miles in four days – adding “ready for some more!” – but also noted troubles with phone service and a balky BlackBerry. They’ve been posting comments about once a week but also posting lots of photos.

They carry everything they need in 30-pound backpacks, except for periodic stops at post offices along the way to pick up boxes of food mailed from home. They have about 20 of those stops.

As a rough gauge of progress, Appalachian Trail hikers by custom consider Harpers Ferry, W. Va., to be the halfway point of the journey – you’re supposed to stop there and eat half a gallon of ice cream – and Steven Spydell said they planned to be there around the middle of June.

Speaking with The Examiner just before they left on Easter weekend, both were enthusiastic about the five-month hike.

“You’ve got to go a little bit outside your comfort zone to learn,” Steven said.