The hike into Damascus felt like heading into the Emerald City. The famous Damascus, the myths, the legends! The most hiker-friendly town on the trail with really good pizza!
About 3 1/2 miles before the town, I passed this:
Finally, I emerged from the woods into a park with a model of a shelter and a welcome sign.
Damascus is pretty small- didn't take long to find Sub and Cat and secure a bed at The Place, a Methodist Church run hostel. The hostel did not supply towels for the showers, and I quickly learned that I had left my camp towel at a shelter a few days before after another bite-valve incident. So I headd to the Dollar General to get a towel. While there, I saw a 6 pack of Snickers bars and figured I'd get it to share with my friends.
I left the store, sat on a bench, and ate all 6 Snickers bars, one after the other. Then I felt bad about not sharing and went back inside for another package. These I shared: 1 for Hawkeye, 1 for Subaru, 1 for Road Runner, 1 for Cat, 1 for the hostel caretaker, and 1 for me. For later. Because sometimes it's just a 7 Snickers kind of day.
May 12: zero day. Which was good because The Place was filled with really loud snorers! The temp had dropped at night and we unexpectedly spent the day bundled up. Typical zero: eat, blog, resupply, nap, organize gear, shower, sleep.
May 13: Got up and went to the post office to get my transition box. But in light of the cold front that had moved on, and since we had a 6000 foot mountain coming up, I decided to have an outfitter hold my summer stuff for a week and change it out when we returned for trail days. Hawkeye had an emergency dental situation arise and was getting off the trail to get oral surgery.
So Road Runner, Sub, and I hit the trail about 10:30. I was still a little sluggish and not very well rested, so I started lagging behind a little. I pushed up a particularly steep and poorly maintained section of trail and... Had no idea where to go. The trail just ended at an ATV trail. No white blazes on sight! Come to think of it, I hadn't seen a white blaze in a while! So I ended up backtracking about 3/4 of a mile to where I had made a wrong turn onto a mountain bike trail. I want credit for that extra mile and a half!
Now on the right trail, I zipped along, and then passed a camper who asked "Are you with 2 guys? One German?"
"They went back looking for you. Stay here so they'll find you"
Now our little group calls Pink Blazing taking the wrong trail.
We spent the night, appropriately enough, at Lost Mountain Shelter.