Abingdon Gap Shelter to Damascus, VA – 10 miles
Made it to Virginia! Beautiful sunrise in the morning. Braden and Rachael were awake before I set off, but not awake enough to enjoy the sunrise. Some of the boy scouts were just getting up as I set off. It was a fairly easy descent into Damascus. Another warm, sunny day. Got to Woodchuck’s Hostel before 11. The “tent” site was a gravel pavilion (as they called it) so I couldn’t use stakes to hold my tent down. It almost flew off before I got my pack in there to weigh it down. Got dinner with B & R at Pizza Plus (AYCE pizza) and then went to the brewery in town for drinks, live music, corn hole, and low key being hit on by one of the hostel workers (mid-50s?) and a thru hiker who felt the need to lift up his shirt to show me the tattoos on his chest. Weather is supposed to be cold and rainy tomorrow, so I am taking a zero. Got a bed in the hostel this time at least!
I woke up while it was still dark outside. That made finding my food bag a bit difficult. I hung it up farther away than usual and it is a black bag. I did finally find it as the sun was starting to come up, giving me some light to work with besides my headlamp. The sunrise was gorgeous this morning. I loved it when I was up early enough to start hiking during a sunrise. Rachael and Braden not so much…I heard that they were awake, but when I told them they should get out of their tent to look at the sunrise I got the usual grunts that I get whenever I say something to non-morning people early in the morning. So I told them I’d see them in town and started hiking. A few people from the boy scout troupe were up but most of them were still asleep. Fine by me.
The 10 miles to Damascus was very easy hiking. Pretty much downhill the whole time. 10 miles of downhill does take a toll but until the last few miles it wasn’t very steep at all so that helped a lot. The AT goes directly through the town of Damascus. For NOBO thru hikers, you’ll come out onto S. Beaver Dam Ave. where there is a gravel pathway through the grass that follows beside the road. There is a famous sign with white blazes on it that welcomes thru hikers to the town. It says, “Appalachian Trail. Welcome. Damascus, VA.” At a junction of this road, the AT turns right, down the main road of Damascus where the thru hiker parade happens during Trail Days. I kept walking straight to get to Woodchuck Hostel where I would be staying that night.
Woodchuck’s did not have any hostel beds available but they had a space for me to tent outside. They don’t want hikers setting up their tents in their yard so they had gravel pavillions. Thankfully my tent is a free standing tent so I could still use it without needed to use stakes because there was no way stakes would work in the pavillion. Woodchuck’s also has a tepee that fits 8? people in it. I met a few of the hikers there while hanging out around the hostel. One of them was from Glasgow so I was able to talk to her about that city because I had visited Glasgow in 2016. I did my laundry there and likely ate something for lunch that they hostel was selling. I can’t remember what but it was probably pizza and/or a pint of ice cream. That’s always my go-to meal in town. Burger and fries were my #2 choice.
Rachael and Braden stayed in a BnB that night. When they made it to town and checked in, we met up at an $8 pizza buffet place, exactly like the one in Erwin, TN, for dinner. After pizza, we walked to the only brewery in town, Damascus Brewery. There were not many places to drink in town so lots of people were gathered here. There was corn hole, live music, a food truck, and plenty of beer to go around. I even saw S’mores there with his family. He seemed to be feeling much better thankfully.
We ended up sitting at a table with one of the hostel workers and another thru hiker whose name I cannot remember. After 2 years, I don’t exactly remember our conversation. I just remember some of the comments being a bit weird and then at one point the thru hiker felt the need to pull up his shirt to show us all of his tattoos and explain them in detail…We didn’t sit with them for very long. We went back to playing corn hole way past hiker midnight and eventually called it a night.