Trail Days-Thursday in Damascus, VA

AT miles hiked today: 9.9
Total AT miles hiked: 240
Non AT miles hiked: 1.7 plus a couple town miles

That picture is from the Mt. Cammerer watchtower, which is .6 miles off the AT, but it was finally a clear day for my last day in the Smokies and I knew I had to go because Sir Packs a Lot told me so. Boy was he right. I saw Chilimac and Oakridge coming out as I went in and they were happy I had decided to come see it. It was an amazing tower and view, and the Smokies finally came through on the last day. Other than that I still haven't seen a bear, which I hope happens somewhere on the AT.

I considered not hiking the extra distance because we had a date at the I-40 underpass, where the white blazes are actually painted on the concrete beams. Red Hat was picking us up at 3:00 and we could not be late. She was taking us to Trail Days! I only know a couple of the hikers here. Most of the hikers I've been around are not coming. Sir Packs a Lot said I should come here, too, so I hope he was right about this as well. I will be forever grateful about seeing the view from Mt. Cammerer.

So, we don't have a ride back to the trail yet, but I hope something works out like it seems to on the trail. It was $5 for a tent spot and I got two free dinners from the First Baptist Church, who love hikers. They offer free showers and wifi and shuttles and drove us back to tent city in the pouring rain. Thank you, FBC! There has been a massive thunder and lightning storm going all night, which started about five minutes after Houdini and I got our tents set up. My stuff is still dry! Yay! And Houdini found his friends he had hiked with before. We all hung out tonight under the tarp at RiffRaff camp and told stories and laughed, and I got very cold. So now I'm trying to warm up in my sleeping bag as it rains and thunders outside. Also, somebody is trying to set up their tent at 12:30am in the rain. That sounds very not fun.

I have a new skin problem on my other leg now, from a bramble scratch, I believe. The FBC does free medical checks as well, so I'll get it checked out tomorrow.

Today was the strangest day. Up at 5am, hiking before 7am. The most amazing views of the whole journey, the weirdest AT section so far (I-40!), riding in a car for a few hours, tent city, pounding thunderstorms (well, that is normal), free food, hikers everywhere and suddenly I'm in Virginia for a couple of zeros. There is free food again tomorrow, and sometime this weekend Jennifer Pharr Davis/Odyssa is speaking. I'll be at her presentation for sure.