Iron Mountain Shelter- Damascus Virginia. 470.1 done/1719.7 to go. April 14, 2017. 

Goodbye Tennessee. Hello Virginia. 

I hiked a long day again yesterday. I was originally going to hike 15.9 miles to Abingdon Gap Shelter. 

The weather was perfect and the trail was smooth today. What I mean by smooth is that it wasn’t real rocky and rooty. Mostly just nontechnical dirt. So I was making great time. 

I got to Abingdon Gap before 1:00. And I wasn’t ready to call it a day. I looked at my guide book and realized if I push I could make it all the way into Damascus. 

I put my earbuds in and turned some music on for the first time. That was a real lift. I locked into a brisk pace and made it to Damascus before dark. 27.2 miles. My longest day yet. 

I went to Crazy Larry’s Hostel to get a bunk and to my disbelief Engineer is staying here. Hard to believe because there are eight hostels in Damascus. 

I really like Engineer. For all you Hy-Vee people, he reminds me of Tyler Soderberg. He just graduated with his degree in civil engineering. He decided he wanted to do something epic before he goes into the work force. 

Damascus is small with a population of 800. The Appalachian Trail goes right through town. It’s definitely a trail town and the biggest boost to their economy is hikers. Cycling is also a big thing here. So there are three outfitters in town. 

My legs and feet are tired and so I’m in need of a rest. What was going to be a Nero is now going to be a Zero. On the trail a zero is a day off the trail. A nero is obviously a near zero or short day.  

Engineer is taking a zero also. We’re going to start together tomorrow morning. I’ve been doing the same mileage as he for a couple of weeks. The funny thing is we seldom hike together. I’m an early riser, so I’m always on the trail first. Engineer is faster than I so he is usually passing me sometime between noon and mid afternoon. 

Crazy Larry includes breakfast and does your laundry as part of the bunk price. This morning he made eggs and bacon pancakes. I’ve already had the equivalent of a full pot of coffee. 

I’m not making coffee on the trail. It’s definitely one of my “town treats”. 

Today I’m going to do a “shake down”. I’m going to mail some things home that I haven’t needed. The goal will be to lighten my pack. When I blog tonight I’ll list the things I eliminate. 

Now that I’ve got in the habit of blogging I’m very happy I’m doing it. It will ultimately be my own personal journal of my trip. I’m surprised how many of you are reading this every day. I am humbled by your interest. This is the experience of a lifetime and I’m still happy I’m doing it. 

I do miss home though. I miss Amy. I miss my kids and grandkids. I have said that next year I’m going to cycle across America. I’m rethinking that now. I don’t think I want to be away from Amy and my family this long again. 

I have enjoyed meeting people on the trail. Just like at work I meet all kinds. There are some interesting people. I have also enjoyed some of the alone time. I loved starting out with Keith and then hiking with Deb Dop. I very much look forward to hiking with friends and family in the future. I know Ryan and I will cherish our time together. He has been my hiking buddy in the past. 

So I was projecting this would take me five months. Today is exactly one month since I began. 20% of my five months. I am 21.5% done with mileage so I’m exactly on schedule. 

By the way, yes Crazy Larry is a little crazy. 

13 thoughts on “Iron Mountain Shelter- Damascus Virginia. 470.1 done/1719.7 to go. April 14, 2017. 

  1. You are an inspiration Mike. Shawn now would like to do this trail with me. Not sure how the couple thing would work. I have shared your blog with many outside of Washington just because I think it is so cool.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve done a lot of reading over the last several years about all aspects of through hiking. Specially long distance hiking. Sometimes for many people spending every minute of every day together doesn’t always work well. I understand many friendships end on the trail. Kind of like how best friends that become roommates in college don’t stay friends. The best advice I’ve heard and read is that you can go together and agree on a campsite for the end of the day and not hike together the whole time. I have a friend that hiked the AT five years ago with a college friend and that’s what they did. They stayed friends through out.


  2. Mike, I’ve enjoyed reading your updates and am so amazed at your endurance and ventures. What an amazing experience. Take care of your self and safe travels.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love your blog Mike – look forward to each day’s installment and can hear your voice saying the words I read. You are rocking the AT – hope that I can come experience some of it with you

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Happy Easter, Mike! Maybe you’ll meet some bunnies on the trail. Next year I hope you cycle across America. Take Amy and the kids with you on their own bikes!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. On the trail to Damascus this Easter weekend 🤔 Knowing your “vision” is restored as you to see glimpses of God’s creation and hospitality of his people. Enjoy this day of rest and Happy Easter, Mike! ✝️ You are truly a blessing & inspiration to those who you meet also. Keep up the good work!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. THANK YOU for the blessing of your posts! Each day is like looking forward to and reading the next page in a really good book by a FAVORITE author. And savoring the fact there are MANY more pages to come.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I am reading each day with mixed feelings. I admire your strength, your attitude, your sense of adventure!! I question your sanity!!! But I love reading about this trip. Thanks for sharing!
    Oh, and Easter Blessings to you and those you meet!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Still catching sight of you on my maps – Damascus was easy.
    Tomorrow being Easter – Happy Resurrection Day! My favorite holiday. I don’t usually go to church on Easter – that’s when all the heathens fill the seats.

    Liked by 1 person

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