Welcome to Virginia

When most people decide to do a marathon, it’s a carefully made decision. In my case, Magnum and I decided that we’d take on the Damascus Marathon at 5pm the day before. The marathon goes from Iron Mountain Shelter to the Marathon gas station in Damascus. Our decision was motivated by the fact some of our friends had just hiked past the shelter because they were feeling good. Their new plan was to hike 2 20 mile days and camp 2 miles outside of town. As a result, we decided should beat them to town instead.

Since we originally planned to take 2.5 days to get to Damascus instead of 2, I had a lot of extra food and had a huge dinner. My dinner consisted of: ramen with dehydrated veggies , 2 tuna packets, and 3 oz of cheese. For dessert I had some Nerd clusters and a honey bun.

Our alarms were going off at 5:00 the next morning, so I was laying down in my tent by 7:00 PM. I was hoping to my huge meal and a good nights sleep would set me up for success.

Unfortunately, when I woke up in the middle of the night, I was instantly on high alert because something was rustling around camp. I knew where my fellow hikers had hung their food bags and it sounded like the noise was coming from around there. The more I listened, the more worried I got. What if it was a bear trying to get everyone’s food?

I knew I had to check, so I found my glasses and poked my head out of my tent. As I waved my light around, I could see a pair of eyes staring back at me. It was a deer—a herd of them had decided to come visit camp.

Relieved to see it wasn’t a bear, I settled back under my quilt to get a few more hours of sleep.

The next morning, I started walking at 5:30. I started with my headlight full blast to make sure I didn’t trip, but it didn’t take long for the sun to start to peak over the horizon.

The morning miles seemed the fly by. The trail follows a ridge into Damascus so it flat and easy walking. I was averaging about 3 miles an hour and made it to the first meet up spot, a spring at the 13.5 mile mark, before I knew it.

By the time I left the spring, it had started to heat up, so I put up my umbrella to provide myself some walking shade and put in my headphones.

The afternoon miles went slower but there was a lot going on to keep myself occupied: I finished an audiobook, listened to a podcast, and learned my company was doing layoffs.

The last bit certainly provided some fun stress to keep the afternoon miles interesting. Luckily, I wasn’t laid off, but my company ended up cutting 11% of the workforce.

Our final meet up point was at 24 mile mark. I made the mistake of sitting down for 15 minutes because my feet were getting sore. Unfortunately that was just enough time all the muscles and tendons in my legs, ankles, and feet to stiffen up and start to hurt. The last 2 miles were a bit of a slog but it’s always fun to walk through a trail town.

The marathon ended up taking ~11.5 hours and was worth the push. It felt like such a cool milestone to know that I’m capable of doing that many miles even though I definitely don’t want to do that on a regular basis (yet). I also avoided doing any damage that a zero couldn’t fix.

The Broken Fiddle Hostel had a great covered porch with comfortable couches which was the perfect place to lounge the next day.

Here’s to Virginia for the next month or so!

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

What Do You Think?