Old Dominion Blues Pt. 1
I will be splitting this recap into two parts. I’m currently sitting down in a restaurant called Scotto’s in Glasgow, Virginia. Good prices and food is really good. Chomping down on a burger and some garlic bread for lunch. I’ll come back at dinner time for some Pasta. I’m staying at Stanimal’s 328 Hostel.
I forced myself out of bed around 10:00. I strongly considered taking a zero in Damascus, but I knew if I did that I would set myself way back for the next weeks I’m in Virginia. There was also the possibility I might never leave the town and try to do a work for stay at the hostel.
I said goodbye to my new and now old friends Franks and Big Deal who were taking a zero in town. I started the trail a little before noon time. I hit Subway before I got on the trail and packed out a sandwich for dinner that night. It didn’t last 10 minutes because the smell of it from my pack convinced me to eat my dinner early. That way I wouldn’t have to eat it in eight hours because that’s how it works. I couldn’t possibly become hungry then, right?
I found this hike out of Damascus to be very difficult. This is common for all hiker towns I’ve come to notice. A nice descent into town followed by a steep climb going out. At this point, I have mixed feelings towards towns.
The steady climb mixed with the heat got to me, and I decided to stop at 6:00. Before I stopped I smelled something foul on trail. As I made this observation, a Bobcat walked across trail and looked at me. I was walking on its territory.
6:00 was earlier than what I was used to, and I got to enjoy some time with the people who inhabit in and around the shelters.
People at the shelter: Maverick, Coach, a German guy, a Russian guy, a former Vice President of a agricultural tire company, and many more that I don’t remember.
I slept inside the shelter with two others.
Lost Mountain Shelter
I actually woke up around 7:00, a little late for my standards. I needed to crush miles today to make up for the lack of miles yesterday. I quickly packed and started. I was going to go through the Grayson Highlands, the area with the wild ponies. Almost a year ago, my second backpacking trip was here. And it was here I realized I wanted to thru hike this entire trail eventually. There is something magical about this place. Like one has been transported into Narnia or some time in the past where animals still had a sort of agency on the land.
But as much as I love the ponies, I knew if there was a place to catch up on miles, it would be here. The highlands aren’t flat, but the climbs are gradual and the trail is relatively smooth. I banked that I could get 28 miles in this section.
I zoomed by day hikers and thru hikers throughout the day, probably averaging 3mph. And when I finally reached the intended shelter, I had covered 28 miles and it was only 5:30. I could probably do more. I ran into two other thru hikers who said they were going to continue to hike in the evening, and I asked if I could join them. They agreed, and I hiked for two hours with them. When they stopped for a break, I decided to push on and get to 38 miles for the day. I got to the Trimpi shelter at 9:30, just when people were about to go to bed. I had a very late dinner and slept in the shelter.
I thought I’d take it really slow today. I mean, after 38 miles my feet were going to be mush. Also, I was passing through a town on this day, so I was going to be eating a hearty lunch
I still left around 6:30 and made my way to town. It was about 20 miles to the town of Atkins, Virginia. And I guess I wasn’t passing necessarily through town but on the outskirts where there were a few restaurants and a gas station.
I got to the restaurant Sweetwater Venue where they serve a lemonade mixed honey. One of the best drinks I’ve had. Never thought of that combination, and I’m disappointed I haven’t seen this other places. I had three glasses of this. I also had Baked Macaroni and Cheese with BBQ pork on the side. Additionally, I got a cheeseburger. And to top it all off, they gave me a free cinnamon roll. As much as I loved this in the moment, the next miles were brutal.
I considered maybe staying at a motel in this town, but I decided to continue hiking. I walked by the campsite that I believe was the spot in which the 2019 murder happened. FarOut said there was supposed to be a memorial for Stronghold but apparently it had been removed. It did feel eerie walking along the path of the killer. I imagined the terror of that day and against my wishes my mind recreated the horrifying event as I stared at the campsite. It did not help that I was alone through all of this.
I hiked on under the intense Virginia heat. I wanted to get to the Quarter Inn 10 miles out. I wanted to celebrate reaching 1/4 of the way through. I had an extremely tough 300 foot climb, and I decided to rest up at the top when I saw two other hikers doing the same. One of them was from Ireland, the other from Australia. When I told them of my plan to go to the Quarter Inn they informed me that that place was fully booked. In disbelief, I called to see for myself. It turns out a patron had gotten Covid, and the Hostel owner decided to not accept anyone new because of this. I was both disappointed and understanding of this. Selfishly I really wanted an ice cream and a soda to celebrate 1/4. In addition, climbing amidst the heat made me really want something cold to drink. Lunch unfortunately was not sitting right in my stomach. The two other hikers told me they were going to hike another mile down hill to a campsite with a bunch of others. I decided to join them. When I got to the campsite, I scouted the area for a place to set my tent up. I found a place, but I was too tired to do anything, so I just sat down. To my surprise, there were two other hikers at the campsite that were planning on to continue to hike well into the night. Their names were Sunshine and Ductfoot. I asked if I could join them on their night hike because in roughly 7 miles was Bears Garden Hostel. They let me join, and I enjoyed a nice conversation with Ductfoot who I learned was an ER nurse from South Carolina. He had an amazing Mountain Laurel Designs backpack (when I come back from trail I’m getting this). When I got to the road of the hostel, it was about 8:45, and we departed as him and Sunshine continued to hike into the night.
When I got to Bears Garden, it was almost pitch black outside. The hostel was packed with hikers though. The hostel owner, Mrs. Roberta Lingham greeted me and was kind even though I created the hassle of showing up late. She set me up with everything, and I was able to tent on the front yard.
I had a great night of sleep, but I slept in until 8:00. Hostel owners Roberta and Bob were very kind to me and prepared me for my day. I started rather late, and I was definitely going to take the day really easy. It got really hot on a big climb and at the top I had to go through a meadow with limited cloud coverage. Luckily I had my sun umbrella to reduce the heat around me. While hiking I ran into another hiker named Crowba. He told me he was going to go to the next shelter and then do some night hiking. I asked if I could join and he agreed. We got to the next shelter and crushed some ramen and mashed potatoes and then started hiking at 9:00pm. I enjoy night hiking, but I’m not huge in doing it alone. I’m glad I was with another person because there was apparently a bear nearby according to a stealth camper we ran into. We stopped hiking around 12:30 and stealth camped on the side of the trail.
We woke up at 6:00 in order to get to Brushy Mountain Outpost for breakfast. Crowba was/is an executive chef in his non-hiker life, and he said the food, particularly the pork tenderloin, was better than most places he’s been to. We continued to hike on with our full stomachs. We rested at a shelter, and I almost stepped on a Rat Snake sitting on the middle of the trail. They aren’t poisonous, but I don’t want to be close to those regardless. We pushed on hiking, all while a storm came over us. When we hit 20 miles for the day, the rain started to come down hard. I considered going to the Weary Feet Hostel to avoid the rain, but Crowba convinced me to hike on. We hiked in the rain in the dark for an extra 10 miles and got to the infamous Wapiti shelter. I did not stay inside the shelter.
We slept in until 8:00 before we hit the trail. The plan was to go into the town of Pearisburg and stay at the Holy Family Hostel. It was only about 18 miles away and we would have to hitch in.
The day was pretty boring in all honesty. Mediocre climbs and descents and by 3:00 we made it to the road that would take us into town. We got a hitch into the heart of the town and Crowba and I hit Pizza Hut. I customized a pizza so gargantuan that I think it weighed 10-15 pounds. It had every type of meat, double crust with cheese inside, and extra cheese on the sauce. I ate two slices and couldn’t finish the other six. We were then picked up by the caretaker of the Holy Family Hostel. His name was Twig, and I will write a whole other post about Twig and this hostel. We resupplied at Walmart and called it a night.
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