Damascus to Mile 525

Day 56- 5.16.15

Fancy Pants: Second day of Trail Days. We ran into a lot of people we haven’t seen in awhile (BC, Downhill, Toasty, Goldilocks, Tots, Splash, Young Gun to name a few). We spent the day going around to the vendors and going to the different raffle drawings for gear. Fuego entered the Appalachian Trials scavenger hunt contest. It had items like, ‘take a selfie with a dog,’ and ‘milk someone’s beard,’ among other random tasks. Completion of the scavenger hunt gets you a raffle ticket and a chance to win REI gift cards. He didn’t win one today, but has another chance tomorrow.  

   

Fuego won a Granite Gear daypack from the Hiker Yearbook raffle!  We both left with quite a few new pairs of socks. 
Guthook treated us to dinner, along with Dino, Blue, Irish and Alison. We went to Pita’s Pizza in Abingdon and had a 28″ Greek pizza!  3 small square pieces short of finishing it ๐Ÿ™‚  Afterward, Fuego picked up a 6-pack at the grocery store and we went to see the band play at the gazebo in the park.  

 

Day 57- 5.17.15
Fancy Pants: We stayed in Damascus until noon when Appalachian Trials held their final raffle. Of the 8 people who completed the scavenger hunt, Fuego was the only one that didn’t win an REI gift card :(. A couple that was staying at the hostel with us each won a gift card and gave Fuego one of theirs. So nice of them!  We stopped at the outfitter to buy more stove fuel and some gaiters for Fuego. Got a hitch back to where we left the trail from a guy driving an H2. Now I can’t make sweeping negative generalizations about people who drive Hummers!
  
We hiked 7 miles today (486-493).  We were aiming to hike 11 miles today, but when we arrived at Elk Garden gap, it started to rain. We waited under the kiosk for it to stop. After about a half hour, we decided to hike back a quarter mile to the water source and camp there versus hiking north another 2 miles in the rain.  

  

pink lady slippers!

   

  

Day 58- 5.18.15
Fancy Pants: Hiked 15.5 miles today (493-508.5). It threatened rain for most of the day, but we only felt a few drops. In my opinion, today may have been the most beautiful day on the trail so far!  I may be biased since we have reached our home state, but the scenery was just amazing!  Beautiful views from the top of Whitetop Mountain. Then, we hiked to the highest point in Virginia- the summit of Mount Rogers. We heard the summit was boring (no views), but wanted to go because it’s the highest point in our home state!  We have now added summitting the highest point in each state to our bucket list ๐Ÿ™‚

 

  

  

  

  

  

 We saw a herd of ponies before we even got to Grayson Highlands. The babies were so cute!  One ran out into the trail to get a look at us, but as we kept walking closer, it ran away and hid behind its mom. Some were also trying to lick people’s arms and one was licking the handles of someone’s trekking pole, trying to get the salt off. 
   

       

Miles were slow today because of all of the stops, but we enjoyed every minute of it. The highlands were just gorgeous!  There was one part that looked like the area north of the Grand Canyon- sparse trees, lots of rocks, lots of shrubs and views all around. We passed the 500 mile mark today with a guy from Germany named Pilgrim. We also ran into Iron Jen and Muskrat again today (the couple from DC). Camped at Old Orchard Shelter.  

 

Day 59- 5.19.15
Fancy Pants: Hiked 16.8 miles today (508.5-525.3). We woke up to grey skies and packed up just in time!  It rained for awhile before lunch, but it was pretty warm out so it wasn’t too bad. A lot of the hike was in the namesake “green tunnel,” so no views today. I have been patiently waiting for the rhododendron tunnel to be blooming- it’s gonna be so pretty!  I think I speak for both of us when I say we are so excited to be hiking our home state! 
We stopped for lunch at Dickey Gap with Moose Legs and 3 others. After lunch, it got dark and the pressure dropped. We raced the clouds to Trimpi Shelter. We hiked as fast as we could (running at one point) and made it to the shelter just as the fat water drops turned into a downpour. We waited about a half hour, and then the sun came out and we were back on the trail. 
We hiked to our intended campsite and the “reliable water” source was dry!  After some deliberation, we decided to set up camp and hike back a half mile instead of hiking north 4 miles to the next water source. 

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