We took a side trip to Damascus, VA the other day. We hadn’t been there since our AT trip in 2005. It brought back some real memories.
Back then we had walked 10 miles down the hill from Abington Gap Shelter into Damascus by noon on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend. In hiker terms, that is a 10 x 12, and that was the best time we have ever made anywhere on a hike. I had hiked so many miles along the Tennessee/North Carolina border that I didn’t think I would ever get to Virginia. Then, all of a sudden, there it was. I almost knelt down at the state line sign, but got a hold of myself in the nick of time. Instead, there was just a soft utterance to the heavens, “Thank you, Lord”.
We went to Damascus the other day to go to the outfitters. I needed new boots for this next section. We were highly impressed with the folks at Mt. Rogers Outfitters when we were there before. Jeff tried everything he knew to make my feet quit hurting. I have since come to the conclusion that if you hike more than 5 miles, your feet are going to hurt. He fitted me for my new boots and then we strolled through the store fingering the merchandise and took a quick look through the trail register.
Damascus is a trail town which hosts two trails—The AT and the Virginia Creeper Trail. The Virginia Creeper is primarily a mountain bikers trail, but is also open to horses and hikers. It runs 34 miles from Abington, VA to the NC state line near Whitetop, VA. This is a rail-trail conversion from the old Virginia Carolina Railroad and takes the rider through beautiful rural Virginia countryside. Locals nicknamed the Virginia Carolina the Virginia Creeper from the way it crept up the mountainside with heavy loads of lumber and iron ore. There are bike rental shops available for anyone who doesn’t have their own bike and shuttles available so you don’t have to make it a round trip effort. What could be easier than that?
The AT and the Creeper are one in the same for a few miles north of Damascus. What a great stretch of trail—a wide, graded, gravel footpath with benches for resting by the mountain stream. Now this is hiking!