Day 64 – Thursday, May 12: Buena Vista, VA to Damascus, VA, Zero Day, 801.9 total AT miles.

I woke up fairly early for having stayed in a bed last night. I didn’t sleep well. Sometimes, I’m surprised at the quality I find in cheap motels (The Grand Prix in Gatlinburg comes to mind) – the Budget Inn in Buena Vista, VA sits on the opposite end of the spectrum. I’m pretty sure I slept on a cot.

Savage, Black Santa and myself were packed and ready to go by 8:30. Our car would be ready between 10:00 and 11:00 – we had a few hours to kill. After a quick stop at the post office to mail home the very last of my winter gear, I walked across the street to have breakfast at TNT’s, a friendly neighborhood diner.

The food was exceptional – I ate heartily and had a homemade donut for dessert. After breakfast, the three of us waited outside for a shuttle to the rental car facility. It didn’t take long for the shuttle to arrive and, before I knew it, I was driving to Trail Days.

But we had to make a few stops first. I first drove south to Glasgow, VA to pick up Shaggy – he had just eaten and was very excited to see us. He threw his pack in the rental and we began the long drive to Richmond, VA to finally go to an REI.

I was excited – we arrived at 3:30pm. I only spent an hour in the store, but was able to get a lot done. I returned my Black Diamond trekking poles (broken tip), Outdoor Research hat (too hot), REI brand puffy jacket (too heavy), REI Dash 2 tent (broken rainfly) and Gregory Z65 pack (broken buckle and too big for my torso).

I ended up getting new Black Diamond poles (this time with cork handles), an REI Quarter Dome 2 tent, and an Osprey Anti-Gravity pack – this pack is awesome. It fits well and actually packs better than my Gregory.

We left at 4:30 and started driving to Damascus. Because we drove all the way to Richmond, we now had to backtrack back to Buena Vista before heading south to Damascus.

About two hours of driving later, we stopped at a Wal-Mart near Waynesboro to buy a few things for Trail Days. I needed a cheap pair of sweat pants and a sweater – the forecast called for overnight lows in the upper 30s with rain. This would be the third time the weather got cold after having sent the bulk of my winter gear home.

By 8:00pm, we were back on the road and finally heading towards Trail Days. It was raining and I was getting tired – Black Santa ended up driving the last leg of the journey. At 11:00pm, we arrived. Black Santa parked the rental and the four of us set off in the dark to find campsites.

We finally found an area big enough just behind the baseball fields and made camp.

I’m in my tent and listening to a light rain fall. I’m really glad I bought those sweats – it’s really cold out tonight.

I have no idea where I’m at – all I know is that we hiked past Tent City and followed a trail to a sign that said Mellow Camp. I turned right. Hikers are tenting in the woods all around us. Tomorrow looks like it’s gonna be a lot of fun.

Breakfast: 3 pieces of French toast, breakfast burger (with an extra sausage patty), one donut, coffee

Lunch: burger and tater tots

Dinner: almonds, 20 gram Powerbar protein bar

Author: Chris Kummer

Hey y'all - Cool Dad here. Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to thru-hike the AT. It remained a nagging thought for nearly a decade - then it got loud enough to warrant my attention. So I quit my unfulfilling job(s) in Seattle and commenced hiking north from Springer in the spring of 2016. And I'm exceedingly thankful I did. The people I met, the things I saw, the gross foods I ate - not a day goes by without fondly remembering life on the trail. If you've already thru-hiked a long trail, you know exactly what I'm talking about. If you're thinking about tackling a long-distance hike, do it. Do it now. I'm probably gonna do it again...

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