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