Saturday, August 6, 2011

8/4/11 Trail Swagger

8/4/11 Elkhorn City to Damascus, VA

Rode 84 miles today. Sprayed two dogs with one shot. They were at the top of the steepest hill. There was no escaping them. As soon I see teeth, it is over for you, dog. I give two warning no's and then it's pepper in yo eye.

Some really beautiful country today. Though I'm sure the ivy is actually some kind of parasitic infestation, it is glorious to look at and resembles the tree people from Lord of the Rings. They are so fun to look at, I actually laugh out loud when I put together where their arms, legs and face are.

Landed in Damascus. Suprise! It rules here. Bike shops, camping shops, local vegetables, the Creeper Bike trail (real), pizza and karaoke! We figure out that the reason for awesome is it's position in relation to the Appalachian Trail. Hikers come through here to wolf down carbohydrates like papa lions and buy more Dr. Bronners.

We capitalized on all the local goodies. Heirloom tomatoes, homemade muscle salve, pizza and, of course, karaoke. After I passed the mic on, we headed for the hostel. Called "The Place". Shockingly not remotely as creepy as the House on Hill. A sanctuary for hikers and distance cyclists. No air conditioning. No matresses. No fridge. But plenty of incredible conversation.

Met four dudes hiking the Appalachian. All with hysterical "trail names" like Barefoot Bastard, Kiwi and Trail Swagger. I know, right? I'm jealous.

Jason made it into town maybe an hour after us. It was a hard day for everyone. Also at the hostel, we met a couple on bikes doing the west to east route. Both teachers. Lastly, a father of an sixteen year old girl who was hiking the trail with friends. He was hiking it too, just a little ways behind so she could maintain both coolness level and safety. The big group of us convened on the platation style porch. Some of the guys had lashed their hammocks to the porch pillars. The rest of us sat back in plastic chairs. What a scene. This is what I absolutely live for and anyone who knows me can attest to it. Feels like the first night at Camp Christopher. I am elated.

After much chatting, mapping and planning, I marched up the big wooden steps to the second floor, where there are rooms upon rooms of empty bunks. I perched myself on a top bunk adjacent to the window. Cool summer breeze came in. I could see the outline of the mountains through the big open window. For the first time in a long time, they brought me peace instead of panick and worry.


  1. What a lovely post, Lauren. Feel like I'm there. Damascus sounds great. Would have liked to see everybody on the porch. Didn't know you liked Camp Christopher. Me too. Loved it. I see you're in Charlottesville now. Beautiful place. Especially Monticello. Maybe you've been there.

  2. hey---i biked cross-country last summer and tonight, feeling the travel bug again, have somehow stumbled onto your excellent blog. i wanted to comment about the last photo in this post... the adventure cycling sticker on the virginia welcome sign was affixed there by a guy named jason who i rode with through part of kansas and missouri last year. he left a trail of 'em that i enjoyed following after we parted ways. we met up again in yorktown on the beach! anyway. congratulations on completing your ride!

  3. holy cats. that is so cool. i am so glad you found us. I had wondered about the sticker when i saw it. it's nice to pick up the little crumbs riders before us have left here and there. it definitely brings a richness to our experience. thanks for reading.