Mile 500 Adventures from Damascus(mile 470) to Marion (mile 532)

Mile 500 Adventures from Damascus(mile 470) to Marion (mile 532)

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Lauren just posted that they are in Marion VA.  Mile 532.   Amazing.  I went and calibrated the Postholer.com AT planner.  When Lauren started the trek, her plans were to complete the trail by August 31, 2017. At her current pace, it could be as early as August 1 if she is able to continue at this pace!  2017_05_03 updated planner  She should hit Atkins VA (Mile 541.8) by tomorrow May 4.  Harper’s Ferry VA by June 7 just as Sarah Grace is getting out of school.  =)  This will be our first planned meet up with her.  Well, we’ll have one before that when her friend Nicky comes into hike with her on June 1.

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We stayed at Crazy Larry’s Hostel in Damascus where our friend Kyle finally caught up with us.  Crazy Larry’s Hostel has a FB Page (https://www.facebook.com/CrazyLarrysHostel/).  Several blogs indicate that Crazy Larry’s is a “disaster but a clean disaster” to “messy but clean”.   Reasonable place to stay at $30 or so a night.  Clean bed, running water.  Hot water.  Hot water.  Did I say that twice?  And maybe a real bed! Even if it is an air mattress.

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Damascus has a history of being along the trail, therefore warranty a little more time in the post even if they did not stay there long.  Damascus is know as “Trail City USA”.  The AT actually goes right through the heart of Damascus.  “Damascus is also home to the largest annual gathering of Appalachian Trail hikers – Trail Days. This multi-day festival in May attracts about 20,000 hikers and other visitors to Damascus each year, and offers hiker workshops, hiker services, food, hiking gear vendors and entertainment.  (http://www.appalachiantrail.org/home/conservation/a-t-community-program/at-community-partners/damascus-va).  Lauren and Green Beard have missed this event as they are well ahead of many of the hikers on the trail.

So cool to see a cluster of butterflies.   These are really pretty.  Some research indicates they are type of Swallowtail – either a Pipeline or a Black.  There looks to be a bit of orange on the center top butterfly under the green leaf.  What a great event to see.

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We had a day totally filled with ponies which are used as a land management tool to keep the balds open spaces. I got quite a kick out of the signs which stated no horses allowed.  Some research on this indicates that there are over 100 ponies living on 2000 acres of land along the Appalachian Trail.  A little bit of history shows the ponies have been there since around 1940.  Legend has it that a horse was bred to a pony to create a smaller-stature horse that could survive living in the Appalachian mountains with little help.  Much to my delight one of the articles indicates petting and feeding the horses is strictly forbidden.  After all they are wild animals.   (http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/more-than-100-ponies-roam-free-this-park-virginia-180959786/)

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Along the way we passed mile 500 and learned the name of a couple we have been leap frogging with for the past week (Cruzzer and Ghost).

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Next stop is Atkins, VA.  There is not a lot of information about Atkins.  There are less than 500 households in the area. It’s definitely not a big town and does not have the history behind it like Damascus does.

Until next time,

~ Linda

The writer has been MIA

I’ve been MIA as I’ve been working one weekend after the next then having commitments at SG’s school for volunteering and Teacher Appreciation Week.  If you know a teacher – give them a high five.  They work hard..  I still have one more weekend crop I’m doing this weekend and the end of the school year to get through.   Anyway…

Lauren has been posting some amazing pictures up in FB and on this blog.  She’s traveling with Green Beard who entertains her freely with songs.  They pace is good and they are in Virginia now.  I need to reset the trip guide to more accurately reflect her pace.  Since March, she’s been through 3 states (Georgia, North Carolina, Tennasee) and now in her 4th state on the East Coast.  Such a big difference from the PCT where they spent the first few months in California.

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The terrain changes daily as you move up the hills and down to the valleys in this area.  As Lauren heads into Virginia, we do have some good friends who are willing to be trail angels should she/they need assistance.  She’s headed into the Roanoke area of Virginia.

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A bit of information about this area from Wikipedia:

Geography

Location of Roanoke, Virginia

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 42.9 square miles (111.1 km2), of which 42.5 square miles (110.1 km2) is land and 0.3 square miles (0.8 km2) (0.8%) is water.[14]

Roanoke is located in the valley and ridge province of Virginia immediately west of the Blue Ridge Mountains and east of the Allegheny Mountains

Within the city limits is Mill Mountain, which stands detached from surrounding ranges. Its summit features the Roanoke Star, Mill Mountain Zoo, the Discovery Center interpretive building, and an overlook of the Roanoke Valley. The Appalachian Trail runs through the northern section of Roanoke County several miles north of the city, while the Blue Ridge Parkway runs just to the south of the city. Carvins Cove, the second-largest municipal park in America at 12,700-acre (51 km2), lies in northeast Roanoke County and southwest Botetourt County.[15] Smith Mountain Lake is several miles southeast of the city. The Jefferson National Forest is nearby. Roanokers and visitors to the area enjoy hiking, mountain biking, cross-country running, canoeing, kayaking, fly fishing, and other outdoor pursuits.

The city is located in the North Fork of Roanoke winemaking region. The “North Fork of Roanoke” appellation is a designated American Viticultural Area, recognizing the unique grape growing conditions present in the area. Valhalla Vineyards is located just outside the city limits of Roanoke.

The Roanoke River flows through the city of Roanoke. Some stretches of the river flow through parks and natural settings, while others flow through industrial areas. Several tributaries join the river in the city, most notably Peters Creek, Tinker Creek, and Mud Lick Creek.

Climate

Though located along the Blue Ridge Mountains at elevations exceeding 900 ft (270 m), Roanoke lies in the humid subtropical climate zone (Köppen Cfa), with four distinct, but generally mild, seasons; it is located in USDA hardiness zone 7b, with the suburbs falling in zone 7a.[16] Extremes in temperature have ranged from 105 °F (41 °C) as recently as August 21, 1983 down to −12 °F (−24 °C) on December 30, 1917, though neither 100 °F (38 °C) nor 0 °F (−18 °C) is reached in most years; the most recent occurrence of each is July 8, 2012 and February 20, 2015.[17] More typically, the area records an average of 7.7 days where the temperature stays at or below freezing and 25 days with 90 °F (32 °C)+ highs annually.[17] The normal monthly mean temperature ranges from 36.6 °F (2.6 °C) in January to 76.7 °F (24.8 °C) in July.[17]

Based on the 1981−2010 period, the city averages 16.6 inches (42 cm) of snow per winter.[18] Roanoke experienced something of a snow drought in the 2000s until December 2009 when 17 inches (43 cm) of snow fell on Roanoke in a single storm.[19] Winter snowfall has ranged from trace amounts in 1918–19 and 1919–20 to 62.7 inches (159 cm) in 1959–60;[17] the largest single storm dumped approximately three feet (0.9 m) from December 16−18, 1890.[20]

Flooding is the primary weather-related hazard faced by Roanoke. Heavy rains, most frequently from remnants of a hurricane, drain from surrounding areas to the narrow Roanoke Valley. The most recent significant flood was in the fall of 2004, caused by the remains of Hurricane Ivan. The most severe[citation needed] flooding in the city’s history occurred on November 4, 1985 when heavy storms from the remnants of Hurricane Juan stalled over the area. Ten people drowned in the Roanoke Valley, and others were saved by rescue personnel.

Many residents complain that they are prone to allergies because of pollen from trees in the surrounding mountains. Most famously, the family of Wayne Newton moved from Roanoke to the dry climate of Phoenix, Arizona because of his childhood asthma and allergies.[21] However, there have not been clinical studies to establish that these conditions are more prevalent in Roanoke than in other cities with similar vegetation and climate. ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roanoke,_Virginia )

The Calers will attest to the allergies in this region and how bad they can be!

Until next time,

~ Linda