Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Day 32: Part One, Creeper

5/22: Damascus - 0.1 before Grayson Highlands State Park

Mile: 468.8 - 499.5 (30.7 miles, except a little less because of the creeper trail but with all the extra 0.1 etc it evens out)

Quiet time ends at 7 and I'm packed and out the door after a cup of coffee and a few goodbyes. I'm antsy and am more than ready to hike. I really liked some of the folks in this little bubble of hikers but I'm not ready to follow any plans but my own right now. So a wave and some coffee see me out the door.

The streets are deserted, my favorite time

I had planned to grab breakfast and a sandwich out of town but wasn't thinking, Sunday's out here mean short hours and limited choices. Oh well, I'm carrying plenty of food.

The AT and the Virginia Creeper Trail are one and the same as I head out of town. This is the first true blue blaze, ie alternate that I've really known about out here. I've had multiple past hikers tell me it's a sweet little option following a river and worth it if you aren't following every single white blaze (official trail) to Maine. I'm very familiar with the purist view of only official trail and all that jazz from the CDT and I'm trying to loosen up and really take advantage of all the quirks of the AT. The miles are comparable and I figure why not so Virginia Creeper Trail it is.

It's aimed towards bikes and it's actually where the old train used to go so it's nice and wide and all the bridges are giant train trestle style.

It's pretty and relaxing the first hour or so. Then the crowds start, I forgot it was a Sunday. I spend the last few miles desperately needing to pee but every time I'm even hopeful another bike rounds the corner.

It's a relief to rejoin the AT and head back into the quiet green tunnel.

My quiet is short lived, it's blasting music and beer at the first shelter I pass but that's ok, I have no trouble passing them as the trail starts to climb up White Mountain. I'm feeling really good and it's such a nice pretty climb, it's good to be back on trail.

Towards the top is my favorite. It's quiet and I feel a little like I'm in a fairy forest. The trees are smaller this high and little wild flowers are exploding everywhere and babbling brooks and butterflies, it's pretty magical.

The views start and it's gorgeous but windy and crowded so I push on. There are springs constantly and the next miles are rocky and mostly a creek. Oh well at least its gorgeous.

I'm not sure when I'm officially in the Grayson Highlands portion of the trail but I'm pretty sure it's around here because there are ponies! Of which I take far to many pictures so the last part of the day gets another post.

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