Hello and welcome to part 30 of our journey through North Carolina.
After leaving Azen, VA and our delightful conversation with Renny, we continued along the curvy, narrow Jeb Stuart Highway on the road to Damascus, VA. The descent changed from Mt. Rogers turned into White Top Mountain which is SW Virginia’s second highest peak, 5500 feet above sea level and the starting point for the 35-mile Creeper Trail. From what we gleaned in our many conversations “The Creeper Trail” is very popular with hikers, cyclists and equestrians. The road we traveled is so beautiful it’s hard to keep your eyes on it because it serpentines alongside one of two river sized creeks that flow into the Holston River near Damascus, VA.
We had never heard of Damascus, VA until a week or so before the trip when we saw a post on Instagram and how it is home to the largest annual gathering of Appalachian Trail hikers referred to as Trail Days. This multi-day festival in May attracts about 20,000 hikers and other visitors to Damascus each year. We sure are glad we didn’t travel the road to Damascus at that time, lol.
As we arrived in Damascus with Daisy on empty, and our bellies too, we stopped at a little gas station with the pumps a long way from the building. As I was looking at the pump to figure out where to put my credit card there was no credit card slot. I figured I would have to go inside and leave my card and go back out to pump and didn’t really want to do that. Then along came a guy and I asked if we had to pay inside. He laughed and said, “nope, around here folks trust each other”, just pump what you need and head on inside to pay. Now that sure was a good thing to hear in a world where trust is the last thing ya wanna do. So, as I was pumping the gas the man shared how great a town Damascus is. When I asked what brought him there he too noted “well, I came a few years back and never left” and I immediately began to laugh. It seems like folks in NC and VA do this a lot.
From here we went across the street to the “Mojo Café” . Again, what a great place for those of you traveling through. As we talked with the staff we learned more about the community and how active it is because folks walking the Appalachian Trail usually end up stopping for something to eat and rest awhile. The food at this place was excellent and one item I am still trying to get the recipe for is the “apple curry chicken soup”. Mary said the owner’s mother makes all her own soups and didn’t know if she would give up the recipe. I gotta have it! If we get it and the owner says it’s okay we’ll be sharing it with you. While we talked with Mary and Jose the cook they also shared how great a place Damascus was. Mary mentioned moving to the area as a child when her dad took a job in town. She noted that in the fall she was going to be attending NC State where she intended to study aerospace engineering. When asked if she wanted to be an astronaut she laughed and said, you never know. It was awesome to hear this young lady’s dreams.
We talked on line with Gabe Burkhardt of (almost)unsalvageable.com) about Damascus and Mojo Café and he says it’s the new hiker hang out hot spot in Damascus for many reasons including wi-fi and cell signal strength. Gabe would know since he is an experienced Appalachian trail hiker. You can read about his exciting journey there by clicking on this link, “Hiking the Appalachian Trail Against All Odds”.
From here we were off to the Wytheville KOA where we spent our last night in a campground.
Well this is it for today. We hope you come back and see how the trip unfolds as we share more of the USA Through Our Eyes. Until then be safe.