Saturday, April 30, 2016 10:45 pm
Location: Damascus, VA / Woodchuck Hostel (469.9 miles)

Today was probably the most friendly terrain we've had to date. We started at a pasture, with cows grazing off to the side. (Fortunately, there was not a bull sitting directly on the trail, as happened to Beast last year.) Some early uphills gave way to a long, mostly downhill afternoon, after we passed a shelter 11 miles in, taking us into Damascus, VA. Most of the ground was soft leaves or dirt, giving a comfortable hike.

Rolling Hills
Rolling Hills
Cows
Cows

Most of the day, I was hobbling along with a hurt leg, similar to what I experienced on the way into Franklin, NC. Beast thinks (and Wikipedia seems to agree) that it's probably a pulled IT Band. Probably I hurt it running down Pond Mountain two days ago, and the long day yesterday inflamed it further. It didn't really start, hurting around 8 miles of the 22 we did. (So, I guess the takeaway is, no more running down mountains, whether slackpacking or not.)

About an hour before we reached Damascus, we reached the Tennessee/Virginia state line, complete with "Welcome" written in stones on the trail. Three states down, eleven to go!

Welcome to Virginia
Welcome to Virginia
Tennessee/Virginia Border
Tennessee/Virginia Border

3.5 miles later, after a long 22.6 mile day, we reached our first stop in Virginia.

Welcome to Damascus
Welcome to Damascus

The whole afternoon, rain clouds were visible, looming, threatening to rain on us. Fortunately, we still managed to beat the rain clouds into Damascus. It only started to rain when Beast and I left to go get dinner. (And then it poured, and despite our rain jackets, we still arrived at the restaurant somewhat wet.)

In Damascus, we're staying at the Woodchuck Hostel; specifically, we're staying in a teepee. Normally, this would be pretty cool, but teepees are open at the top, which poses a bit of a problem in a rainstorm. (We stayed mostly dry, with most of the water coming in from the top collecting in a pan in the middle of the floor; but we still had some water that came down the support poles and fell off midway down, landing on our stuff.)

Woodchuck Hostel's Teepee
Woodchuck Hostel's Teepee

Our first choice for dinner was the Mexican restaurant in town, which was closed. (We later learned, they closed early because they ran out of food!) Instead, we wound up at Bobo McFarlands, an Irish restaurant.

Tomorrow: zero in Damascus. We did two 20+ mile days in a row (and a 15 before); we earned it.