wild ponies: days 29-31

Day 29: Abingdon Gap Shelter to Damascus, 9.9 miles
Day 30: Damascus to Lost Mountain Shelter, 15.8 miles
Day 31: Lost Mountain Shelter to Wise Shelter, 17.5 miles
Total AT miles hiked: 502.5

Our night alone in Abingdon Gap wasn’t totally without company; a fat mouse managed to ninja jump onto my pack. Fortunately Garrett heard it and scared it off, then moved my pack to a more mouseproof location before the mouse had a chance to chew any holes in it. The rest of the night was uneventful, and we awoke on our own accord and not due to the rustling of other thru-hikers. We had just under ten miles into town, and per usual it went quickly. We should pretend we’re heading into a town every day. We stopped briefly to celebrate our crossing into Virginia, our fourth state on the Appalachian Trail. Soon after we were in Damascus by 11am, and decided to head over to our hotel. Damascus is a trail town, meaning the AT runs right through it, so we could follow the AT nearly to our hotel. When we arrived we were surprised to find that my parents had upgraded us to a nicer room and had some prosecco placed in it as well. It was a nice surprise, thanks Mom & Dad! 

After lunch we had town errands to run, spending a few hours, and walking another three miles accomplishing all of our tasks. Along with the typical resupply stop, Garrett got a new pair of shoes in the mail. He had started with day hikers, but he’s called Bear Sweatz for a reason, and was getting blisters because his feet couldn’t breathe through his waterproof shoes (which weren’t that waterproof either). At my not so gentle urging, he finally agrees to try trail runners and lighter socks. 

We rounded out the day with take-out in our room and The Davinci Code on TV, a great way to end our nero day.

We finished-up some last minute tasks the next morning, stopped at the coffee house, and headed out of town around 11am. We walked along the Virginia Creeper Path (a bike path) for a little bit throughout the day, and passed by many a stream. Along the bike path I found $10, a win for the day.

Towards the end of the day it started to lightly rain, and we made it to the shelter in enough time just to get a little damp. We were happy to find room undercover, which eventually filled-up with other hikers. Garrett said his legs and feet feel the best that they have the entire trip, so fingers crossed that the new shoes continue to do him well.

It rained throughout the night and into the morning, but we managed to stay relatively dry throughout the day. It cleared-up a little as we got to the Grayson Highlands, and passed by the 500 mile mark on the Appalachian Trail! I’ve been looking forward to the Grayson Highlands, not only does it afford unique views of craggy rocks and grasses like this,

but there are “wild ponies,” too! The ponies aren’t truly wild, as they are put in the highlands to keep the grasses low. It was a nice change of pace to walk through the grasslands and see the ponies. We took our time and arrived at Wise Shelter around 4:30pm, we contemplated staying while we ate a snack. It started to rain again, and we decided to stay dry and claimed our spots in the shelter. A good group of thru-hikers trickled in, giving us an appropriate end to a great day!