A quiet time in Damascus

5/2-5/3 Damascus, VA (469.9)
Since I put the 32 mile day into Damascus, I had to wait for everyone to catch up. So instead of just taking one day off for myself,  I had to take 2 zeros (a zero is referring to zero miles hiked. A Nero is referring to a very low mileage day).

A bridge on The Virginia Creeper Trail

A bridge on The Virginia Creeper Trail

Although I thought my body was going to be dying when I woke up after the big miles, besides a cramping big toe I didn’t have much pain. Breakfast was biscuits and gravy from a nearby diner. If I had to pick one thing about the south I loved so far, it would definitely be the biscuits and gravy. Everyone sells them and I haven’t come across a bad one yet.
The rest of the day was very lax. I read a bunch under a tree and waited for everyone to get into town. Word eventually got to me that Mountain Goat wasn’t feeling well. I left him a few miles behind Vandeventer Shelter because his foot was hurting but I heard he eventually started vomiting and zeroed the whole next day. I was getting concerned it would take him a few days to get into town, but was amazed when he showed up early the evening of the 2nd, after hiking 35 miles in a day to catch us.
I ended my last night in Damascus with a nacho salad at the local Mexican restaurant  (also the only restaurant open in the town) then listened to the mets game with a beer as I fell asleep.
Zeroes are an important part of the trail. Just like a weekend is necessary to the regular workweek, the stress adds up on our bodies and a nice peaceful day or two off is heavily appreciated by my whole body. In the past, I’ve treated my zeros with lots of booze and fooling around, but this stop was one of the first where I actually felt refreshed.

5/4- Damascus (469.9) to campsite (486.2)
Leaving town is never much fun. I love hiking, but not as much after I resupply and my food bag weighs a couple extra pounds. I’m usually not too great at having a light breakfast before leaving. In Fontana I left after having 4 plates of a buffet. But I tried being more responsible this time, and got a bagel with cream cheese and bacon from a small cafe called Mojos. It proved effective and the 15 miles into the woods was cake. It helped that the trail was very even. For a few miles the AT followed the Virginia Creeper Trail, a rail to trail project that was paralleled a very scenic river.

One of our better campsites,  coming out of Damascus

One of our better campsites, coming out of Damascus

We hiked 16 miles out and settled at a campsite nestled under a beautiful stand of conifers. The group got inventive with our dinner menu. I made a spam and gouda burrito, Mountain Goat had a grilled cheese, and Survivor made a quesadilla. We wrapped them in Tin foil and threw them over the fire. Hot Toddie stayed in the corner and made something weird out of kale.

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