Day 37: Iron Mountain Shelter to Campsite near Damascus, VA

Today’s mileage: 24.0
Total mileage: 464.8

We made it! We are officially in Virginia as of this evening. I’m really excited and relieved to be in our fourth state. We’ll be here for awhile since the VA section is one-quarter of the entire trail, but I’m really looking forward to the hiking here.

We woke up this morning in Tennessee where our clothes from yesterday were still soaking wet and some of our things were even frozen. I thought these cold nights were over with, but we’ll deal with it for a bit longer if we have to. It wasn’t nearly as bad as some of the nights we had in the first two weeks. We left by 8 AM and ended up having to hike in the clothes we usually sleep in. We would have been freezing if we had hiked in our cold, soaking wet clothes from yesterday. Plus, we knew we were going into town tomorrow, so hiking in our dry clothes wasn’t a big deal.

Today was on the colder side compared to the hot weather we’ve had lately. After a few miles, we came upon an orange metal box of trail magic. It was filled with sodas and Little Debbie’s snacks from a girls mission group at a nearby church. We stopped there for a few minutes thinking it would be the only trail magic of the day. Little did we know that in less than two minutes, we would be getting more trail magic from a local couple, Jason and Wendy, at the road crossing. We each ate two hot dogs and had some chips and doughnuts. They were super nice and we hung out for a bit eating our food and talking about the trail. It really was the perfect day to run into them because it helped fuel us for our longest day yet. They even knew who I was when we came into the parking lot since they’re following my blog. Thank you so much Jason and Wendy! You really made our day 🙂

After crossing the road, we walked along a handicapped accessible section of the trail through a field. I’m not sure how accessible it actually was since the gate opening was questionable and the trail was uphill and had some big stones along the route. Sorry, I’m very critical of accessibility standards for a reason and it’s pretty much second nature for me to take note of these things. I think the effort was certainly there, but I’m not sure you would approve, Jessica.

We walked through a cow pasture as well. The cows stared at us, most likely wondering why so many people invaded their pasture everyday. I think they strategically placed their dung piles on the trail for their own amusement. There were several calves resting with their mothers as well. That was just plain cute.

The terrain wasn’t bad at all today and we most certainly have our trail legs by now. We’ve been hiking over 2 miles per hour lately. Hiking 24 miles today (which is our longest mileage day yet) wasn’t too bad at all. I’ve felt way worse after 14 mile days before. My knee hurt this morning, but it felt better as the weather warmed up, as did my body. Then, my left pinkie toe began to hurt a lot. The pain spread up my foot and eventually to my heel. I took some Advil and sucked it up for the rest of the day. I’m not really sure what happened. Maybe my feet are swelling or maybe it had to do with my wet shoes. Either way, it was painful, so I pulled out my phone to listen to music to help distract me from my foot. Some Led Zeppelin helped do the trick and I was able to get through the rest of the day. I’m sure all of you are as sick and tired hearing about my injuries as I am dealing with them. But I also can’t write these posts without talking about them some of the time because I would be lying if I failed to mention my aching knee and pained feet. Aches and pains have most certainly been a part of my journey each and everyday and I have to find a way to get through each and every one. It sucks, let me be honest here, but it’s never gotten to the point where I feel like I have to stop and get off the trail. I take care of it all as best I can with Advil and medical tape and usually by the time I wake up in the morning, the pain is gone. Now I wonder in the morning, “what part of my foot will hurt today?” I really do hope a new pair of shoes will help with my foot issues. I’ll keep you updated.

Right near the end of the day, we crossed over into Virginia. We took a few photos with the state line sign and took in the moment we had been anxiously awaiting for days. I’m still amazed that we’ve hiked this far; almost 500 miles! If someone told me a few years ago that I would hike hundreds of miles in 5 weeks, I would have laughed at them. It still seems unreal sometimes, but we really do feel like thru-hikers now. I’ve gotten used to the lifestyle and I look forward to getting in my tent every night. It’s like our little home.

We are less than two miles out of Damascus, where we will hike in tomorrow and spend the next couple days. We are hiking tomorrow, but for such a short time, it’s like having two days off. We are really looking forward to the time off and I think we deserve it. We’ve put in a lot of big days and our bodies need a rest. Although, we’re supposed to play in a hiker basketball game tomorrow, so maybe not as much rest as we thought?! You know, we’re just trying to mix up the workout routine out here and get in some cross-training, right?

13 thoughts on “Day 37: Iron Mountain Shelter to Campsite near Damascus, VA

  1. My girlfriend and I have been following your post, and have loved it since day one. It is something to look forward to each day. Your trip has been so inspirational to us. Just a little tid bit on the weather, we live in the west region of the Adirondack’s of New York and are still getting snow flurries today, hope the best weather for you guys.

    1. That is so great to hear; I appreciate it, Jeff! I have been amazed at the response to the blog and I really look forward to hearing from everyone who is reading about our journey.

      I hope the weather turns around for you up in the Adirondacks!

  2. Congratulations. A HUGE milestone on this journey. VA gets a bad rap by some because you spend so much time-miles there. You will fly through VA, it is fast terrain. It has some real interesting spots and it is just beautiful. And, lots of trail magic. Woods Hole Hostel is a must stay. Waynesboro has the best buffet on the trail, Chinese (no msg) with great sushi bar (no trail lie there). Great outfitter in Daleville and Waynesboro if you need them. Be careful and rest on Nero’s and zero’s. VA is the point were you move so fast, you body starts breaking down, shin splints for a lot of people, because they are doing quick big mile days. Plan on packing light along the Skyline Drive because you can eat breakfast lunch and dinner at the Waysides and BigMeadows hotel @ Skyline Resort. Free lunch at the Dutch Haus (between Daleville and Waynesboro), worth the stop, and if you stay over night in the bunkhouse it is a great place to slack pack south over the Priests.

    1. Again, we enjoy your wealth of advice for each section of the trail! We have heard about the buffet a few times and will definitely be sure to hit that up! We will try not to push ourselves too hard. I can see how it would be easy to do that. Virginia here we come!

  3. Good luck with basketball………tried to play a bit at “Rusty’S Hard Time Hollow” just south of Waynesboro in 2003… jumping ability was left behind at Springer! Oh we’ll, I’m sure u guys will do the Golden Bucks proud!……..Beautiful AM at Heart Pond, E Orland, Me …… All sun and listening to the loons! Looking for a hike in Acadia this afternoon……..

  4. Great job yesterday! We are so glad you guys we’re able to benefit from our trail magic! Have fun in Damascus! Also, try soaking your feet in hot water mixed with Epsom salts. This will loosen the muscles & help with any blisters or irritation. We’ll let you know when we travel up to Maine! Good luck & happy hiking!

    1. I’m going to try and do a foot soak with Epsom salts tonight. They have them at the inn, so hopefully I have the time tonight. I’ve never done it before.

      Please, let us know when you come to Maine. The hiking is amazing there and we’ll be sure to give you guys some trail magic! 🙂

      1. So glad to hear you tried the Epsom Salts. I hope they helped!! They work wonders for some reason and really cleanse the body where soreness occurs. We’d love to keep trail magic going for you guys! If you would like, just email me your mail pick up stops from here on out. You never know when Jason and Wendi may send you a whole box of chili cheese fritos! 🙂

      2. Thank you so much! I end up buying chili cheese fritos in just about every town we stop in 🙂

        A few places we’ll be stopping at as we know so far:

        Harpers Ferry, WV
        Boiling Springs, PA
        Duncannon, PA

  5. Have fun in Damascus! You’ll have to let us know who wins the basketball game! Thanks for your sweet compliments regarding our trail magic yesterday! We were so happy to serve you. Good luck & happy hiking!

    1. Thanks! No basketball game unfortunately 😦 But I’ll keep you updated on any upcoming games 🙂

      You got me hooked on chili cheese Fritos, they’re my new favorite!

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