7/17 Day 61 – The Ghosts of Damscus

7/17 Day 61 – The Ghosts of Damscus

7/17 day 61

Breaks interstate parks to Damascus VA

77 miles

*Note* – I know I have missed about a week’s worth of entries, I’ll be updating them hopefully in the next 24 hours, including my entry to VA, the last state. In the meantime this one was more important to me than those.

I’m sitting in The Place in Damascus, VA. Appalachian Trail town USA. The sign on the door said “closed for group” but I came in anyway. It’s empty of people. Well. Real people at least.

I’m here with ghosts. The ghosts of my memories of this place. Of a hike 5 years ago.

There’s the madness of packing going on. The day after Trail Days and we spent a night recovering. It’s now Monday morning and we’re trying to get a move on. The group is going to slack pack the miles they missed into town. I’m going to try and climb the 10 miles out of town. We’ll all see each other a little farther down the line.

Thunder and Burgundy are making jokes and funny faces at each other. They are like a pair of old shoes, well matched and worn together. They’re married now, they were together before the trail started – this is Thunder’s second hike.

Saga and Delorean are sharing a happy special look. The unsure kind of where things will go, but thrilled to have them happening. They were eyeing each other when I met them. I’m glad they were happy then. Everyone should be happy. They are joking back and forth with everyone but keep sneaking furtive glances at each other.

Pee Wee Germans stomped back in, the angry/funny grin that only he was capable of. He found the brick I had stashed in his pack before he even left. I shouldn’t have tried when it was already stripped down for the slack pack. Next time I’ll get him. Talker of course thinks this is hilarious and his mouth is open in a giant grin, laughter howling out. Who knew someone so young could do something like this on their own. He never told us he was only 17 until much later, but he has the poise and maturity of someone twice his age. But he’s always quick with a joke. Keen too – he didn’t miss much.

Skittles is torn on taking his rain jacket or or not. He has been having fun, but he seems tired. More than just the long weekend of partying tired. He gives up and leaves it at the hostel.

Rambo has been sulking. Her friend got arrested and charged during Trail Days. She hasn’t been too into things since. It wasn’t an easy thing for her. It’s never an easy thing for anyone to see someone they care for like that.

Gnar is napping. Well sorta. He’s sitting upright and staring into nothing. He’s amusing himself with his mind.

And I’m there. Watching. Joking. Packing. I feel kinda hungover still from the weekend. The whiskey last night didn’t help. I’m going to climb out of town and gate every second of it. At the top of the pass I’ll puke, mostly water but also a beer I drank out of the river trail magic stash. Probably shouldn’t have done that – my blood was still probably more alcohol than water at that point.

I’ll summit Katahdin with 3 of these people. 2 of them will go home. 4 others will summit 2 weeks before the rest of us. We go our separate ways, sometimes in alone and sometimes together. But we have these moments.

This is what comes back to me as I sit down on the bare bunks in The Place. Whispers if the conversations in those moments, flickers of the world 5 years ago. I couldn’t imagine the things ahead, for myself or for the others. I still can’t believe some of the things that happened.

I came into Damascus and all I wanted was one thing – to see the sign that welcomes northbound Thru-hikers as they enter town. To see that white blaze upon it. It’s a special thing. It marks the footpath from Georgia to Maine and back again. It leads weary footsore hikers to a place in my heart. It conjures up ghosts in daylight for me and dreams so real I can smell them at night.

Welcome home to Damascus. Appalachian Trail town.

2 Replies to “7/17 Day 61 – The Ghosts of Damscus”

  1. Vivid memories, keeping the past alive. That was quite an adventure, matched only by your present journey. Dream big, and dream anew. See you soon!

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