The elevations and climbs begin to decrease outside of Hampton on the way to Damascus, VA. At least for a time.
Say good bye to the lake after crossing over the Watauga Dam.
There is still aggressive bear activity around. The next shelter is closed. I actually had a decent sized bear just off the trail along the way. He didn’t see me, backing off to get my spray and the camera, he crashed down hill so fast, with such force; well I didn’t get a good angle on him at all as I re-approached.
The plan was just to have dinner at the shelter above the lake, but a storm rolled in and we had to wait it out. The view from the rear of the shelter was amazing to wake up early to.
For the first time the trail begins to give way to open lands.
There is a gorgeous piece of property with a great bench for a view and a nap along the way.
I had an early hot dinner after a two hour nap, awaking surrounded by a herd of cattle, heads down and munching as they meandered by.
I headed out again feeling great. I met up with everyone at the next shelter which marked about a dozen miles for the day so far.
I decided to have coffee and a snack then continue on for a night hike that ended up pushing until after 6am. Forest and I called a stop at 28 miles, just a few miles short of the Tennessee and Virginia border. Which I crossed later around 11am after about 3 hours of sleep.
With consecutive 15+ miles days, close to 70 miles in the last five, I’m feeling better about not having any permanent issues.