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  1. #1
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    Default Bland Va to Damascus - July or Aug...getting info

    Hi all,
    Planning a section hike in July or August SOBO from US 52 (mi 591.2) to Damascus VA (mi 469.9). Just looking for any info or tips from people who have done this section. Anything particular by way of advice? Some particulars I am wondering...
    -Any recommended shuttle drivers that could take me from Damascus to the trail where I am starting (that are a good price)?
    -Places to stay in Damascus?
    -How's the terrain...from the book it looks mostly level with some occasional decent climbs.
    -Info on shelters? How crowded are they likely to be this time of year?
    -bear info?
    - campsites along the way?

    Here's the basic itinerary, subject to change (yes I use the NOBO numbers and go backward bc I got used to them)

    F: drive to Damascus, stay the night
    Sa: Shuttle to start of trail, Hike 592 -> 559.8, stay at Jenkins shelter
    Sun: 579.9 -> 559.8 Knot Maul Branch shelter
    M: 559.8 -> 540.5 Chatfield shelter
    T: 540.5 -> 523.7 Trimpi shelter
    W: 523.7 -> 503.6 Wise shelter
    Th: 503.6 ->486.1 Lost Mtn shelter
    F: 486.1 -> 469.9 Damascus, stay the night in hostel or hotel
    Sa: Home

    Thoughts? I'm increasing my mileage this year...I've done 16 and 17 mile days before...the way the shelters lay out, this seemed the best way to break it up. The terrain looked suitable for longer hikes. Also I kind want to challenge myself some more this year. Appreciate any feedback...got some great tips last year too so really appreciate this site.

    Thanks,
    MJ

  2. #2
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    Do you realize that your first day is a shuttle which takes 60-90 minutes and then 32 miles? Based on the rest of your days, that seems really long.

    Maybe you should shuttle on the first Friday and then camp at your starting point? Even then, 32 miles is a very, very long day.

  3. #3
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    Wait, there was a typo, you meant to say 579.9 instead of 559.8 for your first day. I didn't catch that. Your plan looks doable then.

  4. #4
    Registered User Pastor Bryon's Avatar
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    My opinion - Hiked northern part of this section this year in July. Shelters were not crowded, BUT this was with Covid so I don't know how much that will change. Grayson Highlands will likely be crowded with people on the trail every day, and shelters likely to fill up on the weekends.

    Water - mostly plentiful, but Guthook is your friend, especially as there are a couple of longer hauls (8-12 miles) between water sources and you'll want to be aware of that ahead of time.

  5. #5
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    I did most of this over the past few years during high summer (June to August). That includes Va. 62 (near Ceres) to Lickskillet Hollow in late August of this year.

    This was a wet year and, even so, there were a few long sections between reliable water sources. So it helps to know where the reliable water is, so that you can tank up and be as prepared as possible.

    For instance, there is water at Jenkins Shelter. Southbounders then climb to a ridge crest. The next possible water source is at Walker Gap, but that's iffy in dry seasons. Beyond that the next source is a pond a mile after Chestnut Mountain Shelter.

    I really enjoyed my time in Virginia this year. I had the trail to myself for three out of four days. It rained like crazy those three days. Some of the terrain was harder than expected. Also, there are some open pastures/meadows that can be brutal under the summer sun. But get started early in the morning and you'll do great.

  6. #6

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    That section is harder then it looks on the profile. There's a lot of up and down as you're cutting across the grain of the ridges. In the valleys between your crossing a lot of farm land - some active, some abandoned. Water in July or August can be iffy. If it happens to be a dry summer, real iffy. It's going to be blasted hot and humid too. That can really slow you down going up those hills.
    Follow slogoen on Instagram.

  7. #7
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    i can shuttle you

  8. #8

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    Lone wolf is your best option for Damascus shuttling. Very reliable.

    July is going to be hot and humid as slo said. I hiked out of Damascus July 4th 2 years ago and was sweating instantly starting at 9pm.

    Mileage is realistic.
    Trail Miles: 4,077.4 - AT Trips: 70
    AT Map 1: 2004.8
    AT Map 2: 265.0
    Sheltowee Trace Map: 116.0
    BMT Map: 57.7
    Pinhoti Trail Map: 31.5

  9. #9
    Registered User LittleRock's Avatar
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    Suggestion (since you and I are from the same area): Take your gear out for a weekend on the MST in June starting at the Pleasant Green trailhead in Eno River State Park, hike 18 miles to the first established campsite, stay the night, then hike back the next day. Don't forget bug spray.

    If you can do that without much difficulty then you can probably handle your AT plan.
    It's all good in the woods.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Wolf View Post
    i can shuttle you
    i sent you a PM

  11. #11
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    Thanks everyone for all the advice. Good to know especially about the water. I carry 2 of the small 500 ML bottles...chug a liter at each water source and then refill again to take with me. May add a 3rd bottle this year based on what you all are saying. Re humidity..yeh I expected that....the good thing is I live in the NC triangle region, which can be 75-80% in summers, so am kinda acclimated to it somewhat.

    Little Rock that's an excellent idea...I'm going to do that. Love Eno and will use any excuse to get out there lol

    thanks to all...MJ

  12. #12
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    Also wanted to ask....anyone have any info on the shelters on this stretch? Specifically, on Google it says that Knot Maul Branch shelter is permanently closed...is that true? I couldn't find that from the AT website or any other source.

    Also what's the night time weather like there in July? Last year I was in the Smokies...the weather forecast for the nearest cities was for very warm, but way up high in those mountains it got quite cold at night.

    Thanks all

  13. #13
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    Knot Maul was open when I had lunch there at the end of August. It wasn't "decepit" or in a state that would lead me to believe it was in it's last days. Perhaps what you saw is the note that shelters in the Virginia national forests are temporarily closed during the Covid crisis? The next shelter to the south was dismantled a few years back - Davis, or something like that; so removing Knot Maul would open a really big gap between Chatfield and Chestnut Mountain shelters, something like 30 miles. Surely that wouldn't be allowed.

    In this part of Virginia the shelters are mostly in the 1,500k to 3,000k range (some notable exceptions, like Thomas Knob and Chestnut Mountain). So although you're a bit farther north, the nights are generally appreciably warmer than in the Smokies and Roan Highlands. My mid-summer stays at Thomas Knob, Hurricane, Chatfield, Chestnut Mountain, Jenkins, and Helvey's Mill were all fine in a sleeping bag rated to 40.

  14. #14

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    I hiked this exact section in May of 2017, except I did it NOBO. I liked the variety of landscapes in this stretch -- a lot of it in woods typical of the southern Appalachians, but some of it through rolling, picturesque farmland too. The Grayson Highlands were the scenic highlight. I found, though, that I was pretty footsore by the time I finished the Highlands because the treadway is really rocky in places.

    The only place I camped that I would not if I had to do it over again was the Partnership Shelter -- it's so close to a highway that it tends to be a party spot. I know it's not in your projected itinerary, but plans often change on the fly. I remember water being more infrequent north of Atkins than south of it, but since I hiked it in typical May weather water sources marked as iffy in the guidebooks were running. I know that may not be the case for you since you are hiking in July or August.
    Life Member: ATC, ALDHA, Superior Hiking Trail Association

  15. #15
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    Another question....where can I park my car in Damascus to leave it during my hike?

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by appstate_mj View Post
    Another question....where can I park my car in Damascus to leave it during my hike?
    the town library

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