Oh say can you Tennessee!
We slept well at the hostel. Our private room (which was cheaper than 2 bunks for the win!) came equiped with a small fridge and coffee pot. What luxury! We enjoyed a cup of coffee while packing up then followed the white blazes through downtown Damascus. We appreciated the murals and the pride Damascus has in being Trail Town USA. Before heading into the woods, we stopped at the diner for a big breakfast.
Full from breakfast we sat a while before heading back to the trail. It is a bit surreal that in a few short miles, we’ll be leaving the great state of Virginia. We have enjoyed about a month in this state. We reflected on our early memories heading into DC from Front Royal, escaping hurricane Ian, hostel hopping, and watching ponies graze.
We ascended out of town and were surrounded by Spooky Halloween fog on the ridgeline. It hung around all morning, however we enjoyed hiking in shorts and t-shirts. It seems unseasonably warm but we are happy for it.
We stopped for a quick break at one of the shelters. There is an ATC warning about an aggressive bear in the general area so we weren’t planning on stopping for long. Backtrack was at the shelter when we arrived and we talked a bit. We will likely be at the shelter with him, Lennon and Grazer tonight.
Within ten minutes of leaving the shelter we saw bear cub about 30 to 40 feet in the woods to the left. It paused and looked at us. Then scampered off, it’s gate ungainly and not quite as coordinated. Since we had been hearing about aggressive bears in the area and with the notion that mama bear was likely close by we continued on, scanning left and right as we walked.
Eric started singing Rocky Top and will likely continue to do so for the duration of Tennessee. We enjoyed a nice campfire with Backtrack, Lennon, and Grazer. It was nice being with a small group of SOBOs. It was not so nice to have so many active mice in the shelter. They devoured our toilet paper peace offering and continued to run a muck all night. Oy vei! Oh well, we’re planning to be up early anyway.
“I’ve had years of cramped-up city life
Trapped like a duck in a pen
All I know is it’s a pity life
Can’t be simple again
Rocky Top, you’ll always be
Home sweet home to me
Good ol’ Rocky Top
Rocky Top, Tennessee
Rocky Top, Tennessee
Rocky Top, Tennessee”
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