Hello from Damascus, VA, a very hiker-friendly town we walk through. We are at mile 1716.6!!! We are merely 3.7 miles from the end of Virginia and the beginning of Tennessee, but I’m going to pretend we are done and just give you the summary of Virginia prematurely.
So wow, I never realized how much it rains in VA in September. VA is 548 miles and we spent 30 days here. It rained for at least 13 of those days. I don’t mean rained all day or night, but it rained a good bit. As our good friend Paul/Second Nature says, “some people hike in the rain, and some people just get wet.” We hike in the rain and get wet in the process. Oh well. It’s all part of trail life. At least the water sources have been flowing, even if it’s muddy …
We never did get those Virginia blues everyone talks about. I just think there’s a lot of variety and good stuff in VA. I will say that somewhere in central VA, I did get in a funk. I think it has something to do with the fact that we’ve walked more than 1700 miles and I am tired. The funk didn’t last more than a day or two, although I am still tired!!
Before I describe the last 7 days and 166 miles of southwest VA, here is the overall summary of VA:
15 nights in a tent (that we set up in the shelter because Deal still has a fear of snakes & spiders in shelters)
5 nights in a shelter (it took some convincing)
6 nights in a bed/bunk
2 iPod days
9 silver AT markers in the ground
1 fall for Steadee
15 dig-a-hole poops in the woods for Deal, 1 for Steadee (again, to clarify, I use the privies.)
2 snakes (one that was 5 feet long and on the trail!)
As for trail magic, I’m disappointed to report practically none. I say “practically none” because we did have friends bring us magic and send us magic, but there were no roadside coolers (and Deal does not count water caches as magic)! We did meet a section hiker who gave us some snacks and 3 weekenders who gave us extra snacks they were carrying, so that was nice!
As for Southern VA, it has been awesome (if you ignore the rain factor). Pretty flat and fast for us, although we’ve been spending more time at 4,000 feet and above. Just the other day, we noticed some leaves changing colors!
We hiked through Grayson Highlands State Park, where Mount Rogers, the highest point in VA is. It’s a really pretty area and we went through a lot of highland meadows. There are a bunch of feral ponies that roam that area, but unfortunately, the weather was crappy when we went through and I think the ponies were hunkering down! So we didn’t see any!
The forest in southwest VA changes almost every hour. We have been walking through groves and groves of rhododendron. I would love to see these things in full bloom, but we are too late for that. Still very pretty.
The forest always smells so good to us, but through most of VA, we’ve been smelling a lot of ramp. It’s some kind of onion/garlic plant & I guess we could be adding it to our dinners. But, I still can’t identify it … I just smell it. Guess it’s better-smelling than our body odor!
One other unique thing we did in southwest VA, we slept in an 1894 schoolhouse!
Last, but not least. Remember I
told you about a fellow SOBO we caught up to, Fern Toe. Well, she often writes songs in the shelter log books. Her latest song was dedicated to me!
Now we are onto Tennessee! Our 11th state! 464.4 miles left! People say “oh, you’re almost done!” But it’s still 464.4 miles people!!!! I wonder if our feet and legs have 464.4 miles left in them …