Vandeventer Shelter to Montgomery Homestead Bed & Breakfast, Damascus, VA – 32.6 miles
Cloudwalker and I are hiking before 6 AM in the dark again. It is a very cool morning. Damascus is the destination today, about 33 miles away. I am basically out of food, so we need to get to town before the outfitters and Dollar General close. The terrain is easy. We are rolling! We stop for a brief sit to enjoy some soda trail magic left by a local church, then continue. We leave Tennessee and cross into Virginia about 3.5 miles south of town.
We arrive at Mt. Rogers Outfitters at 4:30 PM, in less than 10.5 hours. I pick up my mail drop and Cloudwalker buys a headlamp. We sit outside while I unpack my box and an older guy starts chatting with us about our gear, hiking, etc. His name is Roy; he is visiting from the coast of North Carolina. He’s 63 years old and is interested in thru-hiking the trail in the near future. A store employee tells us there is a pretty good pizza buffet about a mile from the store and Roy offers to give us a lift to the pizza/salad buffet on the other side of town.
But first, we head across the street to Dollar General. Roy tags along. I get some Nutty Bars, Snickers, Fritos, and some other things to supplement my mail drop food. Cloudwalker buys a few days’ resupply. He mentions how I purchase as much food to supplement my food mail drop as he bought for a few days. Yeah, I eat a lot (so I need to carry a lot). We pay the friendly cashiers, who say they wish they could do a thru-hike like we are.
We then head to the pizza place and it is great. We eat a lot of food for only $7. Mom calls me while we are eating to tell me she got us (I told her I was hiking with Cloudwalker) a room at the Montgomery Homestead Inn. Sounds good! After pizza, Roy drops us back at the outfitters so we can continue walking the trail down the sidewalk, a few hundred feet further north to the bed and breakfast.
The kind owner, Mrs. Montgomery, greets us outside as we cross the street. She gives us a quick tour and shows us to the room upstairs (yes, it has two twin beds!). She says the inn is full, but right now everyone is out about town. Bismarck and Hopper are across the street at Blue Blaze Café. While Cloudwalker gets situated, I talk to Linds for a bit, which is great! And I’ll see her next week! I talk to the What’s Nxt writer too. This is the first I talk to her since the publication started following me and providing updates to it’s readers.
Cloudwalker isn’t carrying a cell phone, so I let him borrow mine to call his parents back home in Washington. It’s getting late, but we decide to head over to Blue Blaze Café for a beer. This is a rare opportunity for us. Cloudwalker heads over before I do to meet up with some of the other guests. Shortly, I join Cloudwalker at the Café. There are only a few people here, sitting at the bar, so we chat with an English thru-hiking couple, Hopper, who seems to be Bismarck’s girlfriend/wife/hiker friend, and the friendly, Bismarck. [AKA James T. Hammes, FBI fugitive suspect charged with wire fraud and money laundering for embezzling more than $8.7 million from Pepsi.] He’s is a very trail knowledgeable guy who enjoys sharing his knowledge with other hikers.
About 11 PM a local guy walks into the bar to ask for a hand moving some furniture, bed and sofa, for a few bucks. Since Cloudwalker and I are leaving, we say we can help quickly. We head down the street to a woman’s apartment, at the back of a storefront, only to find the two drunk, arguing, and the place not packed up to move. The place is a wreck and this is a sketchy situation. Cloudwalker says something to get us out of there and we head back down the street to the inn. The guy follows us onto the street to give us money anyway. Cloudwalker initially refuses, which doesn’t make the guy happy. Some words are exchanged and I tell Cloudwalker to just take to money and let’s go.
I finally shower and I’m in bed about 11:30 PM. We decide to get a little later start tomorrow, 8 AM.
Cloudwalker climbing a stile
McQueens Knob, VA. Elevation 3,900′. Mile 455.2.
Welcome to Damascus, VA
Damascus Town Caboose