From Partnership, we hiked to Damascus, the halfway trail town for Harper's Ferry to Georgia. (It's the location for Trail Days, at which point it is mobbed; and it has both the Creeper Trail and the A.T. going through it.) This section also took us through the Highlands
Out from Partnership, the path was remarkably even — here apparently along a road grade.
We made it to Hurricane shelter — a spontaneous 20 miles; we were planning to stop earlier — which was cold and windy and very new-looking. We ran into Frito Lay (I think?), who was a store of local knowledge...
...and saw Farm-A-Sea again, who had packed out some pizza from Partnership and toasted it by the fire for dinner.
The Grayson Highlands!
The balds were very nice — open, good views, and indeed ponies. However, our route was a bit loop: aggravating when you're thinking about southward progress.
(Everyone wants to see the ponies.)
The Grayson Highlands balds are very rocky (early motivation for leaving them as grazing land).
My mom sent chips in a bag labeled "Hope these aren't mush", which seems like too good a label not to re-use.
Coming out of the highlands, we stopped at Vulture Rock (I think?), which as a high point in a bald featured a great view.
Descending: still fall.
We tented near a shelter the day before Damascus, since we'd heard the shelter had mice (and to have Our Own Space).
I got visited by a big hairy spider (outside the tent) — maybe attracted by my headlamp?
The A.T. intersects the Creeper Trail (which used to be a rail road grade for taking lumber out of the highlands) on its way into Damascus. The trail still features the trestles.
Clearly, something named "Creeper" is a photo op.
Jo pretends to deliberate.
Most of the way the Creeper Trail goes in a river valley with steep ridges on either side (which, of course, the A.T. climbs along); it also bumps out through a few flat areas.
In Damascus: the library; and a mural on the side of the outfitter (which also runs the hostel we stayed in, Dave's Place).
My side of our room in Dave's Place.
Jo's maildrop (as combined from a few sources) was somewhat ridiculous.
Foot update: holding up well. Lots of callouses.
Jo got giant fake feet in her mail drop; A-Bear models them on the main drag.
Our town-and-weather timing continued to be great: there was a downpour while were we managed to time around laundry and breakfast.