Damascus VA to Atkins VA
Did 14 miles out of damascus to Lone mountain shelter. Started out around 9:45 from town after a massive breakfast at MoJoes right on the trail. Went there both mornings in Damascus. Great coffee and atmosphere for a small town coffee shop. What a great town damascus was. I don’t plan on coming back for trail days, but I am considering it for next year. Biking along the creeper trail just looked amazing and would be a much more fun experience for me I think. It is only 4 hours from my home, so it will probably happen. Perhaps even a motorcycle excursion is in order. I made real sure to monitor my water intake today. Downing a liter and a half at every water source before filling back up. Doing 2 electrolyte supplements during the day after hard sweaty uphills. Never do I want a repeat of 2AM vomiting out of the tent. I didn’t realize how close the Grayson highlands park is and should enter after lunch. Seeing the “wild” ponies should be a real treat. Having enough food for 4-5 days, I can take my time getting to Atkins, but I want to hit a certain shelter at dinner time to order a pizza. The only shelter on the trail that a pizza can be delivered to. That must happen. Some nice weather is in store for these next 2-3 days and I want to make the best of them. The Grayson highlands area are supposed to be beautiful and reminiscent of the Scottish countryside.
Several big milestones today.
1) did my biggest day yet of 23.6 miles all the way to Old orchard shelter.
2) Passed the 500 mile mark
3) Visited with the Grayson highlands ponies today. Reading so much about them and finally seeing them felt good.
Feet and shins are really feeling it tonight. Tomorrow I have another 23 mile day planned to reach the shelter where pizza can be delivered. Hopefully the terrain is a bit more forgiving than today. The highlands were much rockier than I anticipated. Does hell on the balls of your feet when trying to traverse downhill. I am slowly rubbing holes in my liner toe socks from the friction. Doesn’t look too bad tomorrow, but the amount of rocks really slow ms down the pace. The Grayson highlands were such a spectacular place to be on a nice day like this. Most certainly on my list of places to come back to.
4.2 miles in 1 hour 50 minutes(downhill progress in the morning)
Sitting here after a 23 mile day waiting for my pizza, breadsticks and dr. Pepper to be delivered. I made a conscious effort to make partnership shelter my days goal because Pizza Hut will deliver to the Mt. Rogers visitors center gate. Every car that passes by drags my attention up from writing this. Today was just another big mile day that felt good when I completed a goal. Around mile 18 or so, I really running on fumes. The promise of trail Magic by some passerby women turned out to be just an empty dirt road that never felt so disappointing. Never look forward to the promise by some day hikers. Getting surprised is the way trail magic should happen. If the magician tells you the outcome beforehand, the trick is just worthless. (If the movie, the Prestige has taught me anything)
Anyway, you have to know when to move on from a shelter. For a Sunday, the Mt. Rogers Partnership shelter just seemed unusually packed. Well over 30 people were staying there and camped around. All I could see were many cases of beer and no chance of me falling asleep. After 23.2 miles, that is all I want. The balls of my feet were burning and I felt completely satisfied after Pizza Hut obliterated my afternoon hunger. To have a night ruined by snores and drunken hooliganism that you are not a part of(if I am part of if, it’s all cool,) is not a fun experience. It was just too damn crowded. The rule is to not camp within 1/4 mile of the shelter, but there were literally no campsites to the south. So I pushed on(with some peer pressure from 2 other likeminded hikers) a little ways north to a smallish campsite on the hill. Perfect spot to sleep and only 10 more miles to Atkins. Finally got some cell signal on one of the ridges to reserve me a room at the inn. The relax in that is.
Day 34< Made it into Atkins by noon and ate the Hiker Burger at the Barn restaurant. Nice place for hikers. Spent the rest of the day just rehydrating and doing laundry. Coming into town with half the day left is great. This marks the 1/4 mark in the journey. Still have lots of Virginia to go, but thinking about it 4 and 5 days at a time makes the journey easier.
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