Day 88 (Thomas Knob Shelter to the Old Mill)

Thomas Knob Shelter is at an elevation of 5430 ft. It was windy and colder than it has been at night. It is the first night I kind of missed my sleeping quilt but I haven’t missed carrying the weight in my pack.

Dan slept well in his sleeping bag under his tarp. He woke up first and headed out 25 minutes before me because he wanted to hike the blue trail up to the summit of Mt Rogers. This added 1 mile to the daily mileage so I decided to sleep in and meet him at the trail head. He said it was a wooded summit with no view. So glad I didn’t add it to my day but Dan felt good about his decision to add it to his day.

Our day included plenty of climbing to get to Damascus. The trail was beautiful. The Mount Rogers ATC does a really good job with trail maintenance. Early afternoon the AT merged with the Virginia Creeper Trail for a couple miles here and there. It was fun seeing the families riding mountain bikes on the VC Trail. The rivers made me want to go fishing.

Dan did great on his first 28+ mile day of backpacking. That is a huge number of miles for someone that hasn’t been hiking almost everyday this summer. Typically only thru hikers are doing those kind of miles with a pack.

Once in Damascus, Wolf shuttled us to Dan’s car. We had a so-so dinner at Bobo’s. Then we got a couple rooms at the Old Mill for the night. This was a really cool hotel/restaurant that is in a remodeled old mill. It was good to get cleaned up and sleep in a bed.

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Day 87 (Pugh Mountain Road to Thomas Knob Shelter)

School, schmool. All of your students have smart phones, email them their assignments and just keep hiking!Janette Maas

We had an awesome camp site up on the ridge last night. This morning Dan fixed oatmeal for our breakfast. Then we packed up and hiked 2.5 miles to where Dan had parked. I unloaded all the things from my pack and took off on a 13.5 mile slack pack. Dan parked a couple of times and ran in to meet me so we could run together. Each time he brought me food and drinks.

I’m definitely getting spoiled. 🙂 At mile 16, we met a shuttle driver named Wolf and Dan arranged to leave his car there to backpack the 40 miles into Damascus (12 miles today and 28 miles tomorrow) with me. Then we were off. We had fun hiking through the Grayson Highlands State Park. Incredible views and we saw lots of ponies. We tented near the Thomas Knob Shelter surrounded by fur trees.

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