Day 54 -April 30 2017 – 16.9 miles – Damascus V.A. to Lost Mountain Shelter
The trail leaving Damascus is where the Virginia Creeper trail and the AT converge. The Virginia creeper trail was a trail that maintained a slight uphill grade as it followed the river for many miles upstream. From what I understand is that it was a converted from railroad tracks to a trail.
While the two trails only converge for a little bit, they parallel each other for about 14 miles. Some hikers opt to hike the much easier Virginia Creeper Trail instead on the AT and get back on when they converge momentarily again 14 miles later.
Stoat and I left Woodchucks after eating the pancake breakfast. On the way out of town we stopped by a coffee shop. Godzilla and Turkey were there and we wound up hiking out of town with them.
We left the creeper trail, went over a 1000ft hill, and then met back up with the creeper trail. The hill didn’t have any views and the day started to get hot. We did get to see a tree large that completely exploded from a lightning strike. There was tree shrapnel all over the place. I had never seen anything like it before.
We began to question why the AT went over the mountain when the Creeper Trail just bypassed it. At one point in time the Appalachian trail and the creeper trail were one and the same. Then the AT was rerouted and the Creeper trail became its own thing.
The Appalachian Trail is a foot traffic only trail. It’s known as the longest foot traffic only path in the world. Judging by the amount of cyclists out on rented bikes I guessed the trail re-route was done to promote tourism in the area. Either way, at times it was a little maddening to see the flat and easy Creeper trail right below the much tougher AT.
At several points along the way the AT converged onto the Creeper trail for a few hundred feet only to break away again. At one of those spots Godzilla,Turkey, Stoat, and I decided to go for a swim.
The clear water was cold but refreshing. The current of the river had a slight massaging effect on my legs. Stoat waded in and then dove under the water. When he came back up he said, “OH SHIT, OH SHIT!” Stoat doesn’t usually curse so I thought he had badly injured himself. I was about to run over to him when he said, “My glasses! I forgot I had them on and they just came off!” Everyone froze. We slowly started to wade over to where he was. Searching the river bottom for any sign of them. I thought they were halfway back to Damascus by that point but I didn’t say anything. Then all of a sudden Godzilla shouted, “I found them!” Somehow, even though the current was pretty strong, they only went a few feet down river before resting on the bottom. Stoat was beyond relieved.
The rest of the day was very similar. Hike over the hilly AT, return to the Creeper, hike on the AT, return to the creeper.
We called it a day when we got to the Lost Mountain shelter. Turkey, Godzilla, Zeus, and Flashfire were at the shelter as well as several other hikers.
Turkey decided to make a wrap that he called the Turkey Wrap. It was basically pure sugar. I think it had peanut butter, snickers bars, skittles, etc.
There was a couple who camped off in the distance. They went by the names Hobo Joe and Kim. We were surprised to see them out on the trail. They had voluntarily quarantined themselves in a private cabin at Woodchucks. The both were recovering from Norovirus. The symptoms of Noro are sudden onset diarrhea and vomiting. They had to deal with that for a while before they got into Damascus. It made the Flu symptoms Stoat and I had look like a walk in the park.