Day 38: Campsite near Damascus to Damascus, VA

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.

7 thoughts on “Day 38: Campsite near Damascus to Damascus, VA

  1. You guys are doing great! I switched to the same shoes and socks in Damascus. They will last about 700 miles. You may have to get new insoles to give more cushioning after using them awhile. Don’t forget you can replace the socks free at any outfitter or place that sells Darn Tough when those wear out. Be sure to ask about that. You will reach the 500 mile mark at Wise Sheletr in Mt. Rogers National Recreation area. We celebrated there by listening to “500 Miles”. Hope you like Mt. Rogers area. It is one of my favorite places and I try to go there once or twice a year. Talked about you to a large group last night when I talked about my AT Thru Hike so some of them will probably elect to follow you also. Continue to have fun and be safe. I’m so proud of both of you! “Mamaw B”

    1. Thanks Mamaw! We love hearing from you and I read your comments to Miles when I can get internet. Your advice has helped us out a lot and we look forward to hearing from you!

      I really hope the shoes and new socks work out well. I like them so far, but we’ll see how they do on the trail tomorrow. Glad to hear that you had a good experience with them. We’re really looking forward to this next section of the trail and the Mt. Rogers area. As much as we’ve enjoyed Damascus, I’m excited to get hiking tomorrow morning.

  2. I know you all too well, waking up early for some good breakfast food! Happy you finally got some new shoes and hope they serve you well for 500 miles. Relieved that the food box arrived today for you all – you never know with the USPS these days. I got 2 golden retrievers cuddling with me right now which makes me happy. Hope you enjoyed your zero day in Damascus. Time to get the next box ready for you. xoxo MOM

  3. You’ll love your darn tough socks, they will last you the remainder of the trip. You will see more Keen’s left behind on the trail, they just aren’t comfortable. I hope you get to see ponies at the Highland’s. I laughed at your Cheeto’s reference, I’m a Bangor for a couple of days for work, and I walked into Shaw’s to get a salad for supper and they had a big display of Cheeto’s and I swear I started to drool, and had to restrain myself and just walk by. Have fun in Damascus. Oh, and a big shout out to Mamaw B

  4. Dear ones, so glad to hear you got new boots and socks and have so much social support. What a privilege this trip is. In my day, privileged kids hiked (well, not really hiked the way you do, but they did stay in hostels) in Europe for $5.00 a day after college. But you are testing yourselves in a physical way and having this amazing social life in the USA,that will follow you for as long as you nuture it. I feel certain that you will make it all the way!

    Please tell us the PO for a future stop so we can send you something.

    Love, Grandma Sharon

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