Currently sitting at the picnic table...
The temperature in the bunkroom was perfect, and I got the soundest sleep I've had in a while. I know this because after falling asleep, the next thing I remember is waking up with a start. I just slept right through. After startling myself, I was pretty much awake so I went down to Dairy King to eat breakfast and to finish my blog entry from yesterday. Soon I saw a section hiker I met at dinner last night as well as a trio of hikers from Raleigh who were also staying at Hikers Inn. The section hiker talked my ear off, then townies talked my other ear off, and soon both were talking to me at the same time. I kid you not. These people are very friendly, but I just wanted to write my blog! I took it back to Hikers Inn, where found some peace and quiet. Unfortunately, during my long absence this morning, Coyote had hit the trail. He left me his business card, though.
Since I had decided today would be a shorter day, I dinked around the hostel for a while. Soon enough, the beautiful, cool day beckoned me to hike nonetheless. I had decided I would stop by the library before leaving, and it didn't open until 11, I had a good excuse to relax. When I say relax, I mean I walked down to the Food City store and perused the aisles. I didn't really get anything for the trail other than a big block of sharp cheddar, but I feasted on munchies in the parking lot. I was at the library around opening time, where I marveled at the beautiful facilities. I would say Damascus is in a tie with Front Royal for the "Best Library on the Trail" award. I sat down at the computer and, in addition to my normal tomfoolery, was actually a little bit productive. I registered for a Thru-Hiker permit to go through the Smokies later this month. Just this year, they instituted a policy where hikers have to pay just to walk through! Many hikers I talked to were planning to try to sneak through under the radar, but I thought it would be worth it to go ahead and pay so I wouldn't worry the whole time. I only live dangerously in certain ways, and bureaucratic danger is one kind I won't mess with.
Right outside the library, I bid a very fond farewell to Damascus and hiked out of town. It really is a great trail town, and I recommend it to anyone interested in doing part of the trail. Everything you need is right there, and half the town has thru-hiked at some point, I swear. I climbed the ridge very gradually, and I was in Tennessee before I knew it. That's right folks. After 550 miles and a month of hiking, Virginia is over with. Still my favorite state, but you gotta move on at some point. Goodbye my love. My thoughts lingered but I soon caught up with the Raleigh Trio from Hikers Inn. We chatted again, I said goodbye again, and then I sat down for lunch at the shelter. They caught up, so I felt kind of stupid for saying bye, but that is just the way the AT cookie crumbles. We talked about gear and Tony said that because I had so much time to think about it that I should invent something to make backpacking easier. I told him that at some point I had given up and that my gear was just my gear. I said one final goodbye to the crew and headed on to the next shelter. I had given myself the opportunity to stop at the first one, but I got there at 3. I have caught a bug called "Springer Fever". Its symptoms include pushing longer days to get to Springer Mountain sooner and generally daydreaming about that epic finish day. The only known cure is one Springer Mountain view, administered ocularly once in a lifetime or every year as long as symptoms persist. Ask your doctor if Springer Mountain is right for you. Side effects include gaining back 20 pounds.