Thursday, July 9, 2009

Day 9: Wytheville, VA to Damascus, VA (62 Miles)

I must apologize for the complete lack of interesting photos in this blog entry. I came into contact with several thunder storms throughout the day, and for fear of destroying Nicole's camera (unnamed as of now) I decided it be best that it not be wet & wild (and by wild, I mean broken... and by wet.. I mean wet).

My plight for a good night's rest was not heard by the management above, as I tossed and turned all the live-long-night. I also kept hearing coughing and vomit sounds coming from somewhere in the near distance, but I never became interested enough to check it out. When I was leaving in the morning, it appears the culprit was a poor homeless soul wrapped in a blanket under a park gazebo. I dropped him a couple of dollars and took off around 6:30am (I was slow moving this morning).

The majority of the morning was spent climbing towards Mount Rogers (5,729 ft), and I was feeling a bit weak after an non-fulfilling night's rest and smaller dinner. So for fuel, I pulled into a breakfast diner outside of Rural Retreat and attempted to translate a conversation between two farmers. Their southern "twang" (dialect) was so thick, I could only comprehend a few words in each sentence... mostly curse words. After finishing the plate (well, except the "gravy biscuit," that I dared not try), I took off again feeling more full of energy. The climb towards Troutdale looked daunting on the elevation chart, but I'm either getting stronger or the mountain has shrunk since this map was published... I'm assuming it's the latter.

The road to Damascus, in the words of McCartney, was long and winding. There was a trail called "The Virginia Creeper Trail" that followed parallel to my route and looked like a very scenic/enjoyable ride. There were buses with trailers hauling tourists/bikes up the mountain and I almost got pretty intimate with one barreling around a corner at high speeds. It began to rain for the first downhill section, but lightened up as I approached town. As I was gaining momentum around one corner, a construction crew began to block off traffic. The man with the walkie-talkie decided it'd be ok if I passed and I dodged some heavy machinery and headed downward towards Damascus. It was great having an open road behind me so that I could hog the lane and not worry about soft shoulders and other forms of broken pavement. The ride was full of winding turns, high speeds, rivers, waterfalls, and tears of joy.

I pulled into town in the early afternoon and felt alright with stopping at the signs of rapidly approaching thunder storms. I asked around for places to stay, and most told me there were Beds & Breakfasts scattered all around town. Seeking a cheaper alternative I found "The Place," a hostel for Appalachian Trail hikers and Trans-Am cyclists. It's a nice little house, fully equipped with showers, bunks, books, and a back porch. I showered up and then found that one of my shampoo bottles was not fully sealed and had leaked all into my toiletries bag. I then washed/aired everything out and then met a few hikers and shared some stories. I asked if there was any free WiFi around town, and they recommended me going to the small library downtown. So, I'm tucked away here now and waiting out the rain. I've got a difficult day tomorrow. Hayter's gap lies ahead and I'm going to try to make it to Breaks Interstate Park to meet Jonathan & Greg (who are driving down from Ohio) and set up camp there. I'm looking forward to biking beside a friend, I'm getting a little tired of talking to myself.


Nicole Kendra Mazzeo said...

"The man with the walkie talkie"

What did I tell you about talking to yourself?
This is what I told you: Don't. Talk to the trees, the wind, the birds, the bike, the street, the grass, etc. And learn to listen! (1. When I tell you things and 2. to the trees, the wind, the birds, the bike, the street, the grass, etc.)

Eric said...

Blake - your blog is riveting.

I just caught up, and the "birthday incident" had me all worried. Your latest picture is my desktop background. I'm so glad you decided to bring your technology and let us in on your adventure. Ride on!

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