Day 45: Castle Braemer- Iron Mountain Shelter, 16 miles
Alex shuttled us to the trailhead about 9 AM. We stopped to pick up my resupply at the post office and I sent a few things home. The clerk was from St Paul, Minnesota so it took me a little longer than I expected. I also sent some extra food up the line, because I still had another box waiting for me at Boots Off Hostel.
Shelley started on the trail and I headed to pick up all of my packages. It was a pretty uneventful day all together, but it felt great to be back on the trail after the Trail Days break.
Day 46: Iron Mountain Shelter- Abrigdon Shelter, 16 miles
It was a full day of rain! No views, nothing really exciting other than going through a field of cows-mooooveeee!
To keep spirits up, I also did a Singin’ in the Rain’ dance routine down a mountain, complete with a Russian toe touch off of my “umbrella” (aka trekking poles), which ended with me smacking my ankles together and collapsing on the ground in pain.
It rained all night but I stayed relatively dry. It took me a long time to get going in the morning, because I was dreading my wet clothes and concerned about my new shoe pain- the last few days I had a sharp pain in my ankle where my boot touched my skin.
I had a delicious breakfast- a mountain house breakfast skillet that I got for free at Trail Days. When I finally talked myself into leaving my tent it was 9:30am and everyone else was gone. It was a little misty out, but wasn’t pouring. The terrain was pretty easy. I ended up hiking in one sandal and one boot due to the ankle pain.
The forecast called for thunderstorms and a tornado watch, so I started to call around for a private room at a hostel- I finally decided once and for all I could not would not “sleep” in another bunkroom. I ran into Inspector Gadget, a friend I had met at Mountain Harbour B&B, and was shocked that he was still in Damascus! He had stayed there to wait on an important package.
Most hostels were booked, but I found a private room that was a little pricey for me. I thought on it for a bit, but once the skies reopened on me I hit the bullet and made a reservation.
I stayed at the Hiker Inn, and it was the perfect choice. It was super clean and had giant fluffy towels!! My heaven!! Shelley stayed at a different hotel down the road.
It was really strange to be back in Damascus, AND to see what it was like without Trail Days. It was neat to know my way around though! Shelley and I walked down to the iconic Damascus sign to get our pictures. We had both been following other hikers and had seen many Damascus photos- it was surreal to have our very own!
I walked to the post office for my package and ran into Q-tip, Donkey, Grill and No Touching. I ate a salad with them, and then headed to the outfitter to get some insoles for my boots and to inquire about the problem I was having with my ankles. I ended up with a new pair of shoes, which I was told would solve all of my foot problems.
Day 48: Damascus, Zero Miles
I woke up before 7 am in my giant, clean, fluffy bed and did not want to get up. I peeked out the window at the doom and gloom rain and started texting with Shelley. We convinced each other to stay another night 😂
I had coffee on the front porch with Buck, a man that retired long ago from the railroad and now works part time as a park ranger and builds beautiful wood furniture as a retirement past time. We chatted about the trail, cycling (he cycle camps all over the county!), and the President. He said that he would like to see me go home and become a park ranger because he thinks I would be great at it 😁
There was a little cafe that I was not able to try during trail days because they were so busy, so I asked Buck if I could bring him a sandwich or anything back. He asked if he could join me, and when we arrived instead of me buying him a sandwich he bought me a delicious marshmallow mocha and a giant breakfast sandwich.
We saw Grill there and he also joined us, and we chatted about snakes and trail.
After breakfast, I mosied around the stores and checked out the library. I met up with Shelley for dinner and mailed my boots home. I started to feel a little ill and left to lay down. I thought it was a little funny that we took a zero to avoid walking in the rain but ended up walking all over town in The rain! I wore my new shoes all day in hopes of breaking them in- I found that they seemed tight to me and weren’t very comfortable, but the outfitter assured me it was normal.
Day 49: Damascus-Mile 483, 11 miles
I woke up about 7am and enjoyed one last shower before returning to the woods. I also went for another stop at the local coffee shop, Mojos, and enjoyed another mocha and huevos rancheros with Shelley and Gin Gin.
I weighed my pack at the Outfitter and was happy to find it was back down to 30lbs with a little water 🙌🏼
Shelley and I hiked together for most of the day and took a side trip on the Creeper Trail for ice cream.
My new shoes were eating my heels up, just like my very first pair did. I ended up doing 3 miles in my crocs.
We found a nice campsite along a river and stopped about 5pm. Since I had a large breakfast and ice cream I wasn’t very hungry and just enjoyed a little hummus and tuna wrap and my fresh berries for dinner. I listened to a podcast and relaxed in my tent. I slept to the sound of the river and loved being dry! I planned a 17 mile day for the next day so I could hit that 500 mile marker.