We stayed at the Hikers Inn last night in Damascus. It was a really nice four bunk house with really hot showers. The place is run by Paul and Lee who super cool. We met some fellow hostel residents: a hilarious German guy whose trail name is Elma Fudd due to his inability to pronounce “r”s, a guy named White Walker, and a red head named Spit Fire. We sat around on the back patio and shared a few brews.
In the morning we ran across Caretaker who we thought was sixty miles ahead of us– turns out he’s been laid up for four days with the Norovirus. By ten o’clock we were back on the trail in beautiful weather. The trail followed a raging white water stream for miles with trout fisherman and kayaks in abundance. Also following the trail and stream was the famous Virginia Creeper rails to trails bicycle route. People come from far and wide to ride the 20 miles down the mountain traversing dozens of tressles and tunnels. At every switchback we were treated to cascading falls or rapids.
The hike today was only fifteen miles but had me bonking hard due to the beers the previous night and the three days of slack packing. Putting that 35 pound pack felt like a dead body strapped to my back. I limped into the shelter running on vapors at 7 pm. We have to do 46 more miles by 2:00 Thursday in order to catch a shuttle back to Damascus for Trail Days.
Tomorrow we can’t tent camp for the first 17 miles due to the risk of attack by aggressive wild ponies. No joke, the ponies are rumored to trample and or chew up tents in the Grayson Higjlands State Park. So we will have to go more than 18 miles to get out of wild pony land. Wish us luck with the ponies and happy trails.