Damascus, VA – 2 zeros
One zero day turned into 2 zero days. It did in fact rain all day on the 15th and the weather for the 16th was forecasted to be even more cold and snowing (which it did – even in town). Also, Grant and Graham got into Damascus on the 15th so it has been great hanging out with them again. We all met up at Mojo’s for lunch/dinner at 2:30 and proceeded to get drinks from the gas station across the street to take to the porch of Crazy Larry’s Hostel where G & G were staying. Crazy Larry doesn’t allow people to do that usually, but he let it go because he never actually told G & G that. The Crazy Larry name suits him well…after a while we decide to go somewhere else, but nothing was open past 5 on a Sunday so we end up at a hotel where a ton of hikers were sharing rooms. Lots of food and drinks getting passed around and lots of catching up with hikers I hadn’t seen in a while and meeting a few who had been reading my shelter register entries but had not caught up to me yet. Stayed there until 11pm. Still got up for Woodchuck’s AYCE breakfast. Woodchuck’s didn’t have any more beds available for the 16th, so I ended up staying at a church that takes a $7 donation from thru-hikers who bunk there. No central heating, but still much warmer than being on the trail. My Marmot rain jacket was peeling on the inside and was becoming less and less water resistant, so I sent it to Marmot HQ (lifetime warranty!) and they should replace it for free. Mom let me use her card to buy a new rain jacket. Got a green men’s Mountain Hardware jacket form Mt. Rogers Outfitters ($120). The men’s size fit me better and the sleeves were actually long enough for my arms. Only downside is there aren’t any zippers under the pits to allow more circulation. Went to Mojo’s again for drinks with G, G, R, & B before heading to a new pizza place in town for dinner. This place had Guinness signs everywhere and even a map of Ireland, but they didn’t have their liquor license yet, so no beer…Pizza was great though. Even saw everyone from the night before there a while after we got there. One guy from last night didn’t realize I was the one hiking with a trombone, so they kept pointing me out and he told me he was a “fan” of my register entries. It’s been a couple of days since I’ve even played my p-bone, but it’s crazy/weird the recognition I get from it. No matter the weather, it’ll be time to start hiking again tomorrow!
With 2 full days off of the trail, I had a lot more time to write in my journal which is why I was able to include so much more details for these two days versus days where I was out hiking all day. There are some things that I remember and did not include in my journal so I will fill in the details as best as I can remember.
It was an easy decision to choose to take 2 zero days. 1: It was cold and raining all day on the 15th and then cold and raining and snowing on the 16th, 2: Grant and Graham got to Damascus on my first zero day and wanted to take a zero day on the 16th, so I wanted to stick around with them and Rachael and Braden to hike with all of them again once we left town.
At Woodchuck’s Hostel, I was told that there was a bed available for the night of the 15th so I took it. While I was being shown around the inside of the hostel, I mentioned to my guide (I wish I was better with names…) that my birthday was coming up the next week (April 23). He wished me an early happy birthday and told me that he had a pink ribbon that said ‘Birthday Girl’ on it. I don’t remember why he had it but he offered to let me have it if he could find it. Later that day when I got back to the hostel kind of late, I saw that he left it on my bed for me. It was a really sweet gesture and yes, I did carry it with me and clipped it on my pack when it was my birthday.
That afternoon, I heard from Grant and Graham that they were staying at Crazy Larry’s Hostel and wanted Rachael, Braden, and I to meet them at Mojo’s for food and drinks. We happily obliged. Mojo’s was the only restaurant where we could get drinks. All the other restaurant were fairly new and did not have their liquor licenses yet, so Mojo’s was the place to go. Mojo’s closed by 5 pm (maybe even before that) so we ended up getting some cheap beer from a gas station and took them to the porch at Crazy Larry’s to drink and hang out. Crazy Larry came out at one point at first to tell us that he doesn’t like people to drink at his place but he forgot to tell Grant and Graham that when they first checked in, so he said it was okay this one time. We just had to make sure not to get too loud. He hung out with us for a little while after that. He had a reputation as being a bit crazy, hence the name ‘Crazy Larry’ but he seemed to embrace that well enough. He had a lot of stories that he shared with us about his life and how he ended up where he is now. Another one of the many things that I wish I had written down because I remember none of it. I honestly forget most conversations I have.
We ended up wanting to find somewhere else to go and drink, but nothing was open that served alcohol but we ended up finding somewhere else to go. I don’t remember who found out about it from who, but we ended up in a hotel room that 4 hikers were sharing – Stylo, Walnutz, Baba Ganoush, and Tortoise. The room next to theirs had a lot more hikers in just the one room with all of them sleeping there that night. The party we were invited to was for Eskimo! I hadn’t seen him since Erwin, TN. It was his birthday so there were lots of drinks and snacks being shared with everyone – pretty much what would happen with so many thru hikers in one area anyways. I met a lot of new hikers that night. Some of which said that they had been trying to catch up to the hiker with a trombone. One of them even told me that they expected me to be a guy. Breaking down barriers one stereotype at a time! That night was probably the latest I had stayed up on the AT besides my first night in Franklin, NC. All of these hikers also planned to stay in Damascus for a zero day the next day so we were happy to see them again after that night.
Day 3 in Damascus was even more cold than the first two. I got up early for the breakfast at Woodchuck’s but found out that they did not have availability for me to stay there another night and I did not want to tent outside so I stayed at a church hostel where Rachael and Braden had stayed at the night before. The church takes $7 donations from hikers who stay there. There is no central heating, but it was still better than my only other option of sleeping outside or paying a lot of money for a BnB.
A lot of hiking brands have warranties on their clothing and gear and thankfully marmot had a really good one. My marmot rain coat was peeling on the inside and since that was not a tear or break caused by me, they would replace it for free. That ended up being a store credit for me to use in their online store. I needed a new raincoat that day so I went into an outfitter and ended up with a Mountain Hardware men’s raincoat. I got a men’s size because it fit me a lot better. My arms are long so women’s coats usually did not have sleeves that are long enough for my arms.
Grant, Graham, Rachael, Braden, and I started the afternoon with drinks at Mojo’s and then went to a new pizza place in town for dinner. They had an Irish theme inside with maps of Ireland and Guinness signs hung up everywhere. Unfortunately this was one of those restaurants that did not have their liquor license yet so no beer for us here. The pizza was worth the visit though. A big group of hikers from the party we went to last night ended up walking in after we did. At one point, I could hear them say “Slider” and point at me. One of the guys came over to our table to say that he didn’t realize I was the one with a trombone last night when we first met and that he was a fan of my trail logs where I would always sign my trail name with a drawing of a trombone.
Damascus is a very small town but I really enjoyed my time there, even with the bad weather. I met so many other hikers who would end up becoming life-long friends so this town will always be a significant place for me. ❤