After eating dinner at the iconic Barn Restaurant last night, we all camped next to a parking area right next to the trail. It was probably the weirdest place we’ve ever set up tents before, but it was good to be with everyone.
We woke up, ate a little bit for breakfast, and everyone decided that they really needed some time off the trail. We’d been juggling the idea of going to Trail Days, but just hadn’t made a solid decision. So, we finally made a decision that after a few more miles the Thru Crew would be Damascus bound.
I left and headed to Damascus to set up tents. After setting up at “tent city”, I got a call from Susie Montgomery, inviting us to tent in her backyard. I knew that this would be a better place for Ryan and the kids, so I went ahead and moved the tents, then set out to go get my family.
Meanwhile, on the trail… Everyone hiked another 11.6 miles.
Ryan says that the trail has changed… The views are gone and the green wall is up. Except for a few fields here and there, the trail has become more like a tunnel. It is, however, warm enough now to enjoy the rivers that sometimes weave along the trail.
Ryan and the kids have hiked (northbound) daily since we hiked Carvers Gap to Roan Mountain on May 7th. Carvers Gap is at mile marker 378.9. After today, they reached Possom Creek, at mile marker 556.8! Do the math… They hiked 177.9 miles in twelve days! No wonder they are ready for a break!!!
I arrived at Possom Creek after driving a long and winding road to find the family. There were some nice people from Charleston, West Virginia, who had brought out some food for hungry hikers. The fact that I was a little later than I had originally intended to be was of no consequence to them.
We all climbed into the little Dodge Dart that I had been driving around.
We made it to Damascus safely, and headed over to the firehouse for a free fried chicken dinner.
We ran into our friend, Theory, and the kids begged him for the answer to the fuse riddle! (We barely recognized him because of his haircut… Lol!). We still don’t know the answer, but we’ll keep trying to figure it out!
After dinner, we headed to see a few friends that had rented a cabin by the river for the weekend.
Belle played river fetch with Second-dinner for quite a while. Ryan met new friends, Tim and Neal. Tim hiked the trail a couple of years ago. He is a Vietnam veteran. After the war, the woods were not an inviting place for him. Deep down he knew that he needed to face his fears and find peace with the time he had spent in combat. After he hiked the trail, he wrote a book called “The Good Hike”, and later he decided he wanted to go back to Vietnam to meet some of his “enemies” and make peace with them. Neal, his close friend and producer, went with him. They made a short film about Tim’s time in Vietnam. The film is called “Naneek“.
I know that Ryan has made a friend for life in Tim. There is a bond amongst brothers that cannot be manufactured; shared experience unites them at a most base lavel. In between the spoken words, is an unspoken language only understood by those who know the reality of war.
The sun set on an amazing day, and we headed back to the quiet of the Montgomery’s backyard, slipped into our sleeping bags, and fell deep asleep.