We Should Become Carnivores
Tuesday May 9, 2017
Miles: 447.5 - 470.1
7:42am - 6:30pm
Weather: Rain to cloudy and humid then rain.
Made it to Damascus, VA
Sleeping at basecamp
The rain pitter-pattered all night upon our tent. It was a soothing and comforting sound that helped lull me back to sleep each time I woke from discomfort. It stopped just in time for us to get up. Thank goodness because I despise packing up in the rain. It's one thing to have a wet tent to stuff away. It's a totally different task to do it while it's raining.
Our luck was short lived. We had everything packed except the tent and were just about to enjoy our trail breakfast of smushed and crumbled snack bars when the pitter-pattered started again. We grabbed our stuff and dove into the tent to finish our meal.
Once the shower passed we once again emerged from our quarters and were able to pack up in between droplets. We weren't on the trail long before they began falling from the sky in a cloudy mist. We had almost 22 miles to hike today and I was so excited to start off like wet dogs. At least it was warm out.
All night we kept hearing the mooing of cows. We knew we were near a pasture but as we entered it we could not see the bovines. We walked up and around the field following the trail. We could smell them and had to navigate strategically to keep from stepping in cow patties, but we could see them.
We marched forward for about a mile through the pasture and still wondered where the cows were. Then just as we crested a hill there they all were herded together at the north end of the fence looking pathetic. They looked even more unhappy to be in the morning's wetness as we were.
The trail proceeded over the fence right next to them. As we approached all of them except a few just stared at us. They didn't move. Big ones and babies as in a trance with eyes focused on us. It was a little creepy. Shortcake wears these brightly colored leggings, a bright orange rain coat, and a knit hat that looks like a cupcake. We made the joke that the cows were saying, "Hey Ethel, this grass we are eating is way to strong, did you see that flower just walk by? Flowers can't do that can they? I think we should stop the weed and become carnivores."
We safely exited the field before the herd awoke from their daze and we continued north. The rain stopped after only three miles. I was very grateful. In 2015 I hiked into Damascus 23 miles of 26 in the rain. That was my longest day then and it was our longest day today also.
With over 20 miles for the day on our schedule we had a quicker than normal pace. Thank goodness there was not too much to see. It takes us forever when the weather and scenery are good. We had our breaks down to a minimum and since I had been there before I knew where we could stop for longer rests at certain spots. But twice when we arrived there was a hiker already there enjoying his break but ruining any chance of us having a nice time for ours. The first was at a shelter marking the half way point of the day. We had planned to have lunch there to fuel up. Mr Happy Hiker was smoking weed and we didn't want to be around it so we walked on a bit and sat along side the trail. Maybe that's why the cows were so weird. He must have shared with them.
The second time was at the Tennessee Virginia state line. Another huge mile stone. But when we got there. Mr Happy Hiker was there again. He had passed us. He stopped and was partaking in his drug of choice but this time with two others. So Shortcake and I had our photo shoot then preceded up the trail a ways before having a rest some place else. Later on he passed us again and said, how tired he was. My thoughts were, "Gee, I wonder why?"
We eventually made it to Damascus two days earlier then our original schedule, drug free and rain free. But it was a close call on both accounts. We needed to distance ourself from Mr. Happy Hiker and with each step closer to Damascus the clouds grew darker and rumbling started over head. Nothing like a little noise from the heavens to change our 2 mph pace to 3 mph. We were off that mountain, out of the woods, and across town to the safety of a store's awning before the first rain drop.
There we waited for Larry our shuttle driver. We wanted to go back to basecamp since we were early. We weighed the costs. Four nights in a hostel or B&B or shuttle home. Basecamp won. We will rest up, dry out, eat, and wait for Batman to return from his trip. We will get back on the trail Saturday.