Day 11 (Damascus, VA)

Slept deliciously in my hammock until I could hear the other Hostel residents begin to emerge including my co-hammock resident Aaron (Trail Name Mountain Man) and his improbably brave but appropriately named 14 ounce dog Critter begin to stir. Critter has a huge bell attached to his neck so it's like having a spastic mutant reindeer elf darting about the yard. 

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The Woodchuck Hostel, named after the lumbering bear of a man who has, thus far, only worn camouflage t-shirt, has almost every room crammed with beds. In the backyard there is a wooden crossed stands where four hammocks can be hung. There, blissfully I hung the entire night in the fresh air.

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Beyond that, the Hostel experience is bewildering with a parade of hikers and bikers and Lord knows who else comes through the kitchen and common areas.  Some have incredible poor body odor. The kitchen is a mix of public and private and the backyard porch is the laundry where the washer and dryer run constantly.  The Woodchuck does not tolerate drugs or alcohol so I don't have to contend with marijuana smoke. 

Rest Day, particularly the first rest day means shopping and tweaking.  I bought a different pack at a wonderful 50% discount.  Sun screen.  I took my bike in for a safety check. All good.  We are told that the day riding West means a large sustained pedal uphill. 

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Lunch today at Mojos for a vinegar based pulled pork sandwich. Very good. Met up with inspirational and young bikers and hikers Abigail and Seth who have been biking since Georgia.  They also did the Appalachian Trail and while doing it and the current bike ride they collect and carry out the trash they find.  Vibrant couple. Different paths.  We took a group picture while I controlled the phone camera with my watch and was promptly given the Trail Name "Savvy."

 

Damascus, the Town, is a small Appalachian Village, of maybe a thousand people. However it is a major stop on both the Appalachian Trail and the TransAmerica Bike Route.  It also has a vibrant bike and hiking trailer called the Virginia Creeper.  This weekend the town hosts a Trail Days Festival and a tent city is beginning to swell the population to eight thousand. 

Dinner tonight with the group at the lovely Old Mill Inn on their back patio overlooking mallards and a pond and a small waterfall.