1st Tale: Tim & Greg Spend 7 Days Hiking the Appalachian Trail
This tale gets top billing because it’s the reason we returned to this area (I’ve linked to posts from our 2015 visit below). We wanted a location with easy trail access, that was also within a day’s drive from our next stop, which is just south of Nashville, TN, and from Greg’s hometown, which is Norfolk, VA.
Hello, Damascus, VA, halfway point and trail town extraordinaire!
From VisitDamascus.org: Damascus is traversed by the Appalachian Trail, the Virginia Creeper Trail, the Trans-America National Bicycle Trail, the Iron Mountain Trail, the Daniel Boone Heritage Trail, the Crooked Road Musical Heritage Trail, Virginia’s Birding and Wildlife Trail, and lies within a short distance of hundreds of miles of other hiking, horse, and biking trails.
Since I didn’t go (other than accompanying them on a quick 2.5 miles in, then back out to the car after a gear replacement delivery on Day 2), I’ll let Tim finish up the tale with his stats and photos.
- We hiked 76.7 miles, tracked using Greg’s GPS watch.
- Our highest point was Mount Rogers at 5,728’.
- Experienced grassy highlands and dense humid forests.
- Our longest day was 16.9 miles; our shortest was 6.6 miles.
- Night-time temps were in the 40’s; day-time probably 60’s.
- We saw four thru-hikers. All were working hikes known as flip-flops or MOBOs, where they started somewhere in the middle and hiked north to the Maine end, then reset to where they started and hiked to the southern end in Georgia. They had roughly 400 miles of their 2,180+ mile journey remaining.
- Met a father/son team (both named Tim!) at the summit of Mount Rogers. They’d just completed their 21st “Highest point in a state” hike, and were planning to do all 50.
- One deer
- Many wild ponies
- Several longhorns (not the UT kind, like our younger son)
- Zero actual bears, but we saw some pretty fresh scat and heard/saw a tree being worked over nearby, in addition to the honey-grabbing evidence below
- No raccoons (remember this for later)
2nd Tale: Emily Does 6 Miles, and Gives Her Boots the Boot
While they were out, I went out too. Gathered my gear, packed water and snacks, and hoped my old boots would see me through one more hike. They did, but it wasn’t comfortable. My next “hike” was into town for a new pair!
3rd Tale: The Half of the Virginia Creeper Trail We Didn’t Do in 2015, but Twice This Time, Because we Foolishly Skipped Booking a Shuttle
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, and it seemed like a good idea at the time.
Sure, we can ride 17 miles from Damascus to Abingdon for lunch, I thought.
I know we’re not serious cyclists, and that our longest ride together has been only 15 miles, but this is on an old rail bed with only a 5% grade, I thought.
Riding 34 miles can’t be that hard, I thought.
I was wrong.
And 24 hours later, I am still in pain.
Our reward: scenic wooden trestles, rustic farmland, majestic rivers, lots of cows, and one final, magical, adorable sighting.
Those fuzzy little bandits were my good omen, my powerful talisman, the image that sustained me for the rest of the ride home.
Best. Wildlife sighting. Ever.
Posts from our 2015 visit
- Downhill ride: Our first experience on the Virginia Creeper Trail
- Emily got kind of lost: Our hike to the Great Channels of Virginia
- Tricked by wild ponies: Our hike to the highest point in Virginia
- Stand in two states at once: A visit to Historic Bristol
- The theatah, dahling: Cleaning up good, for a night at the Historic Paramount
- Feels like home: Thoughts on our stay in the land of my daddy’s people