Day 47 – Wednesday, April 25
I’m alive and still doing great making miles north to Maine. Since leaving Damascus I’ve enjoyed many new spots and sites along the trail. Out of Damascus I hiked along and on the Virginia Creeper Trail. The Virginia Creeper Trail stretches 34 miles from Abingdon, Virginia down through the town of Damascus along the Whitetop Laurel River and up to its highest point, Whitetop Station, near the NC State Line at Whitetop, Virginia. The Virginia Creeper Trail is open to hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding.
The trail is a former rail bed that passes through the Mount Rogers National Recreation area and the highland country of Southwestern Virginia. The Virginia Creeper Trail is rich in beauty and regional history. I’m looking forward to returning to Damascus next year and taking the biking trail through the mountains.
From the Virginia Creeper, I hiked on to Buzzard Rock, which is a bald near the top of Whitetop Mountain with great panoramic views, and on to Mount Rogers, Virginia’s highest peak at 5,729 ft. I also visited the Settlers Museum along the A.T. which is the only museum in the country on National Forest Service property. All the buildings are in their original location. The old schoolhouse was just awesome.
After Mount Rogers, I hiked through the Grayson Highlands State Park where I was greeted with number of wild ponies. It was very cool and made for a fun day of hiking. In the Grayson Highlands, the A.T. goes through a spot called the Fatman Squeeze (a rock tunnel). The next day the weather turned cold, wet and windy with some sleet mixed in. Not a good combination for hiking, so after reaching the Mt. Rogers Visitor Center, I decided to head into Marion, VA for the afternoon and evening. The next morning we all learned about a fellow hiker, a.k.a “Dago”, who was found in severe hypothermia by a nurse who was day hiking. Not good!
After leaving Bland, VA, the weather turned to wet, cold and snow which made for some interesting hiking for a couple of days, but I took another break from the weather and stayed at the Woods Hole Hostel. What a neat place for a hiker to spend the evening, get some great meals, and be treated like family!