Today’s mileage: 2.3
Total mileage: 467.1
It takes a lot to motivate me to wake up early in the morning. And today I was motivated by food, clean clothes, and a bed. We rolled into Damascus around 8:30 and headed straight to the laundromat. Our next stop was breakfast at In The Country. We wanted to go to Dairy King, but it was closed, so we’ll head there tomorrow. Damascus is a very hiker-friendly town and a place that a lot of hikers look forward to coming to almost 500 miles in. The trail runs right through town and a few locals even took the time to say hello and welcome us to Damascus. It’s like that song from Annie, “I Think I’m Gonna Like It Here.”
We’ve got a great spot at an inn downtown where we’re staying with Minnesota Pete, Fredbear, and Great Legs. Being in town is such a nice change of pace for all of us. We know most of the hikers in town, so we all hung out at the laundromat and then later at the Blue Blaze Cafe for Happy Hour. If we had just started to really become a community in Hot Springs, now we’re all good friends. We’ve got inside jokes, give and ask for life advice, and buy each other beers at the bar and frozen Snickers bars from the Dollar General. All the days of hard work and long miles pay off when we get in town and all hang out, talk trail gossip, and relax. Trail life is sweet and there really is no other way to describe it.
We tried to get a hiker basketball game going, but after Sooty bought a “Jamz”basketball from the dollar store and two guys went to scope out the court, it became a failure. One hoop had no rim and the other didn’t have a backboard. So the two guys were messing around with the ball and then busted it. And that put an end to our hoop dreams. After we had spent a few hours at the bar, we decided to get a kickball game going. Wanderlust bought a “Jamz” soccer ball and we headed to the middle school baseball field to start a game. In a ten minute span, half of us ended up at the field and the other half ended up by the creek. The sun was setting on Damascus and also on our kickball game. We decided to join everyone else down at the creek instead. I think it was for the best in the end. And if you’re wondering what “Jamz” is, it’s most likely the cheapest brand of balls money can buy. And again, probably for the best since the soccer ball will end up in a hiker box for the rest of its days.
Besides relaxing and eating good food, we both bought some much-needed new gear. We both got new shoes, which as you know, we’ve been dying to buy for awhile now. We went to Mt. Rogers Outfitters where we both decided on buying the Oboz Sawtooth, a trail running shoe. I could tell right away that this shoe fit way better than my Keens and probably the big reason I was getting blisters was that they were a bit too big. There was no sliding at all going up or downhill in my new shoes as I tested them in the store. They come with a nice insole too, so I’m really hoping that these shoes work well for me. Really, really hoping.
I also bought some new socks and a new raincoat. I switched from my Smartwool socks to Darn Tough for a couple of reasons. My Smartwools were developing holes in the sides and would also become loose after wearing them a couple of times and I wanted something that would keep its elasticity. The Darn Tough socks are a tighter fit, thinner, and a lower cut, which I like better than the crew length sock.
After the horrible rain we had the other day, I knew that my 7 year-old bright yellow raincoat wasn’t going to cut it anymore. It’s a nice jacket actually; a North Face with Hyvent technology (whatever that is), but the coats out now are so much better. I should have bought a new one before I left, but I was trying to save a little money and get by with what I have. I think my North Face had worn down and it just wasn’t cutting it anymore. I know that after awhile, it doesn’t matter how much rain gear you’re wearing. You’ll still get wet. But my forearms would always get soaked wearing this coat after a short amount of time. I’m quite satisfied with my new Marmot Precip, which is actually one of the coats I was looking at before our hike. It’s black rather than crazy yellow, has pit zips, and is seam-sealed. To make a long story short, our shopping was very successful.
Today was a great day. Clean clothes, Chili Cheese Fritos (my new favorite), and a hot shower. And doing it all in Virginia, a state we’ve thought about hiking into for long, makes it that much better.