No sleep ’til ….Damascus!
4/29 – Moreland Gap Shelter (411.5) to Black Bear Hostel (418.2)
Hot Toddie has a friend hiking with her for 10 days, and the first 3 we pushed her 15 miles per day so we took it easy today. After a nice, mostly downhill 7 mile hike we camped at the Black Bear Resort. It was $10 for a tent and we got a shower, some laundry done, and got to relax.
The day I left Amicolola, Devin gave me a copy of A Walk In The Woods. After a month, I’m only 4 chapters in. So this next month I’m trying to make some more time to read it. I got a chapter in at Black Bear before the beers got rolling.
All together, there were probably about 30 hikers at the hostel. We all had a crazy relaxing day. There was a washers game that went on most of the day, beer, and Bad Apple got some of his homemade moonshine delivered. The night ended around a fire with Mountain Eta playing kings of leon on a guitar and the last of the beer getting polished off.
4/30 – Black Bear Hostel (418.2) to Vandeventer Shelter (435.9)
after a shower and a late start from the hostel, we had an 18 mile day planned. There was a 10 mile stretch of trail that’s closed off to camping because of too much bear presence. (Update: the past 3 nights I found out 3 people I know all had their Bear bags hanging too low and lost all their food to a bear)
Tennessee continued to bombard us with beautiful water scenery, this time in the form of the Watauga Dam. It was 9 miles into the day, so we had lunch in the beach area. I sat at a picnic table for 2 hours and watched about 20 hikers come and go. Mountain Goat, Sleeping Beauty, Bad Apple, Juicy, Hot Toddie and I all went for a swim, played chicken, and had a very nice time
The second half of the day turned a little crappier. Rain was forecasted and hit with about 6 miles left in my day. I finally reached the shelter to find it full and the tent spots all taken up. And the downpour continued. Eventually I found a spot a half mile down a blue blaze. 4 of us worked as a team to set up tents: 2 held up the fly to keep the tent dry while the other 2 set the tent up. I ended up getting to sleep relatively dry.
This was my first full on rain experience. I’ve hiked in it but i either got a shelter spot or it dried up before setting up the tent. The weather’s showing rain for the next week. I guess I couldn’t hide from the rain forever
5/1 – Vandeventer Shelter (435.9) to Damascus, VA (469.9)
After waking up to a quick 6AM rain shower, I was able to dry off everything and pack my stuff in relative peace before making my coffee. Since my clothes were still wet from the previous day, I decided to hike in just running shorts. The change of pace gave me an extra adrenaline boost so I decided to go for it: a 32 mile hike from the shelter to Damascus. The rest of the group wasn’t game, so I set off jogging by myself. It rained for the first hour but then cleared up for a perfect day. Halfway through my day I ran into some trail magic: The Jeffs were handing out Hershey bars at Low Gap. Great timing for myou morale. I ended up passing over the Virgina border and getting into Damascus around 9pm. I had a Reuben and 2 IPAs at Bobo McFarlands with a big group and clunked out around 11. This morning I woke up to Survivor camped out next to my tent, he made the trek and got in about two hours after me!
This next state will be a test: Virginia is over 500 Miles long and compared to the previous 3 states lacks scenery. They say it’s also the stretch where the novelty of hiking wears off. They deemed it the Virgina Blues. I haven’t had a bad day yet, but figure it’ll be coming eventually. But for now I’m just taking it easy in Damascus!
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