April 27, 2001

4/27/01 Damascus, VA

32.9 miles

Woke up to cold. No frost, but cold none the less. After we said goodbye to George, who will be driving to Damascus, it was "on the road again."

The first half of the ride was a steady climb. And climb. And more climbing. The only thing to break up the monotony was a very near miss by a semi in which both Mike and I bailed off the road. Even then it was close...too close.

Finally, a short time after reaching Troutdale, we started an all day descent. Not steep, just pleasantly down. I whooped and yelled as we wove our way down the Laurel Creek Valley. And for something different, we did the last 12 miles on the Virginia Creeper Trail, an old railroad that hugs the rapids of Laurel Creek. What a fun ride!

Mike ahead on the Virginia Creeper Trail

I ended up passing "The Place" by a block because I didn't recognize it with all the renovations. But before we got turned around, George was waving us over to the Side Track Cafe. After a great lunch at this newest cafe (they only opened a week ago), it was time to do laundry.

I talked a while with a guy from nearby White Mountain. "I came here 20 years ago and I love it still," he said. "I was a third generation waterman on the Chesapeake Bay. My grandfather told me to find a future somewhere else and I did." Besides my bike trip, he thought back to his own cross country trip years ago on a motorcycle. "I'm happy you'll get to see the country this way," he smiled.

A quick stop at the outfitters and checked my email before trying to call the girls back at work in Kansas City. Talked with Rosalee and Ellen, but everyone else was gone or busy. I miss my "family" at work.

Surprise, surprise, met one of my internet thruhiker hopefuls here at the hostel. Jim Frye (trail name Tadpole) contacted me several times last year about hiking the Trail. He said it is hard, but he's going to keep at it. "I was looking at the register and recognized your name," he said.

Had dinner at Quincy's (pizza, of course). Just talked to people around the hostel. "The Place" is run by the Damascus United Methodist Church and had a complete renovation, both inside and out. The perfect place for tired thruhikers and cross-country cyclists. Suggested donation: $3 per night. Can't beat that!