Day 58: The promised land

Mother-effing Damascus, baby! [mile 466]

I was so worried about the HGN rumors that Damascus was full that I got up ridiculously early and hit the trail at 6:30 AM. I figured I wanted to be the first of today’s batch of hikers fighting for the last room in town.

On the way down, I realized: I’m actually in terrific shape. I can’t do anything about the uphills (old age and years of cigarettes have rendered the lungs fairly inelastic), but compared with the shape I was in in February, this is fantastic. Also, for the first time in a few years, I wouldn’t be ashamed to put on a bathing suit.

The Appalachian Trail, where you can eat anything you want and as much of it as you can shovel in… except all of it weighs way too much to carry. We’re all scarecrows—humpbacked scarecrows, what with the backpacks.

I did six miles without eating, and it didn’t even faze me. I figured I’d get into town, find a place, and hit a diner.

The walk down the mountain was beautiful. (Aren’t they all?) But listen… HUGE milestone! Three miles from Damascus, I hit the magical, wonderful, fabulous Virginia border! No more Tennessee! Three down, ten to go!

The trail immediately seemed prettier! Greener, softer, full of white flowers and southern hospitality. Also bugs. I don’t know why they stayed out of Tennessee, but these midge things swarmed my head until I got into town.

Damascus is a trail town like Hot Springs, but so different! I’m moving here when I decide to move. This place has a more suburban feel; more houses, more sprawl. But they still love their hikers! In fact, there’s a huge hiking event coming up—Trail Days, the weekend of the 17th, the biggest annual event on the trail. A lot of hikers will be hitching back for it. I probably won’t; I need to make up the days, and I’m not much of a partier anymore. 🙂

On the menu for today: Laundry. Shopping at the outfitter. Potentially resupply, depending on the time (the market’s a bit of a walk). Tomorrow: Post office. Outfitter to discuss the pack issue, depending on how the pack feels with the new gear and a full resupply. Hrm. It’s a lot to do in not enough hours.

And I think that’s enough posting for one day. I only got one pic before the phone died, but it’s a beauty. 🙂

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Categories: Appalachian Trail | Tags: | 24 Comments

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24 thoughts on “Day 58: The promised land

  1. One thought on the pack. It took me almost three hours of frustration to get it right. At full weight, I climbed, twisted, jumped, and danced my way through REI and about 8 different packs until I found the one that was a nonconformist meaning it conformed to me, not me to it. B patient and you’ll get it to work 4 U. Sisu’14

    • I’m half hoping I load up in the AM and decide it’s manageable. I really don’t want to spend the day at the outfitters. Too much to do!

      • I get it. It’s all about UR priorities and trade-offs. Just know U’ve got more than 100 followers who care about UR success

  2. Shari wb

    Is this how Dorothy felt entering Emerald city??? After that longgg hike on the yellow brick road? FINALLY HERE!

  3. I just finished all your posts. I looked up the phrase “Road to Damascus”. (Because I remember nothing). (idiomatic) An important point in someone’s life where a great change, or reversal, of ideas or beliefs occurs. Referring to the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, later known as the Apostle Paul, to Christianity while travelling to Damascus to persecute Christians.
    In your absence from my inbox, I started reading “Wid” about a woman’s journey on the Pacific Coast Trail. Oddly, i feel like I cheated on you with some tramp! 🙂
    Thanks always for sharing your journey. I really love reading your posts. We are all with you. Xo

    • I’ve heard great things about Wild! I might want to read it when I get home, unless I never want to read about backpacking again. =D

      I’m just one trail journal. There are probably a hundred of them going every year (mostly at trailjournals.com), and there are people who follow ten or twenty of them and root for certain hikers. I love reading trail journals!

      • Do you sleep? You were posting late last night, and now you’re back at it!

        Have you read the Barefoot Sisters books? If you have, you’ll remember a silly song they composed to which they added a zillion verses as they hiked – SOBO yo yo mostly barefoot. Nevertheless, the song explains why your journal stands out this year. Most are a version of “Here I come, there I go. Pitched my tent and dug a hole.” In other words, boring!!!

        Your secret is your power of observation and and edgy, pithy style. In contrast, there’s a school teacher from Maine (Hufflepuff) in her late twenties about two weeks ahead of you. She’s as excited as a puppy about her experience – has the energy of a puppy too. Her story-telling style is very different, but she’s equally interesting. http://athike2013.wordpress.com/ Each of you has a book in the making if you’d ever want to do it.

        That’s a lot of blather. Please keep the entries coming!

      • Thanks for the kind words! I hope I meet Hufflepuff, but that sounds pretty unlikely. I’ll cheer for her!

        You should have seen me transposing entries last night from my little tiny notebook. It took hours. Hopefully I’m done with that! We’ll see.

  4. Congratulations! I hope you get the right pack and back on the trail when you plan. Like everyone I am enjoying your posts and cheering for you. I talk about you to at least one person every day. And some ask me how you are doing!
    Your hike is like ripples on a pond, more people are interested than you will ever know. Doing the hike for yourself is the best thing, sharing it with all of us is a generousity.
    I realize you have said our comments help you combat the loneliness of the trail, but really it is a lop sided relationship.
    Thank you for the pictures you paint with your words and for the actual pictures your post.

    • Thanks, Red! You know, I had to stop reading everybody else’s joirnals except Bunny. I couldn’t afford the battery drain while they loaded. She hasn’t posted in a while, but she’s still going strong, I hope!

      • Bunny pull off the trail three days ago at Hot Springs, she is back home in Rochester. The two of you were hiking very different hikes.

      • Oh, no! Bunny! I’ll have to text her!

  5. jack

    Way to go! Keep on truckin’!

  6. Kaye H

    Karma, it’s me, Kaye! I love following your journey. I keep thinking about what you wrote awhile back, something that someone told you: barring actual illness and injuries, the rest of the struggle is in your head (or something like that?). That speaks to me, somehow, in my daily (very non-AT) life. I’m rooting for you from here in Michigan!!!

    • Kaye! I miss you! I’ll miss you at Fest!

      Glad to see you here, though. You know, for a while it felt like everybody on the trail was from Michigan!

  7. Marge

    You sound a wee bit like Chase Utley in 2008, Karma! 58 days, 466+ miles! Do you even know today is Friday?! My menu is similar to yours today: laundry, shopping, mailbox!!! RSL says hello. We miss you. Love everything you’re doing, seeing, describing, etc. Keep on servin! Pics continue to be awesome. xoxo

    • I thought of you gals last night! And I’ll be thinking of you other gals tonight!

      • Marge

        So many gals and their friends and families are all following you, Karma. It’s like Christmas everyday for me, when Karma on the Trail shows up in my inbox! Then, it’s pure selfish delayed gratification! I’m like a sponge soaking up every word. And, I know I’m not alone. Talking with you during your last planning year, It never once dawned on me that I even could benefit from YOUR “dream come true” as much as I have. Through your Trail Magic, you remind me of the courage, tenacity, freedom and love with which we are all blessed to have. Thank you, again, my friend.

      • Thank YOU for walking along with me! 🙂

  8. Donna

    Hi! Back from VA. and what changes…missed reading about your adventures, the greenery, everyones comments. Can’t wait for more posts. You are awesome.

  9. janetg96

    Awesome! Happy Damascus! It sounds like you are doing great! Be well!

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