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Grayson Highlands Info

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    • Grayson Highlands Info

      I did post some of this in a thread called "Damascus to ????" But I didn't really provide much detail, so this is for TJ and DB if they hike it. If you have time, Damascus to Marion or vice-versa would be a really nice section. But if you only have a few days, I would park in Damascus and get one of the outfitters to shuttle me up to the parking lot at Grayson Highlands State Park where the AT crosses it and hike SOBO back to Damascus. Going sobo I would push for Whitetop Mountain only about 11.8 miles (you will pass Wise Shelter after 1 mile and Thomas Knob Shelter 5.1 miles after that). The terrain is mostly a ridge walk with mild ups and downs, take the side trail to Mt. Rogers if time and weather permits ( I did not as I had 40 mph wind, rain, fog and little visibility). There are plenty of water sources along the way and at the shelters. I do not recommend staying at Thomas Knob Shelter its is nasty and I believe this is a bear problem shelter. Anyway when you get to the road at Whitetop Mountain, you have gone just a little too far, just trail north of the road as the trail is along the edge of the woods, look for a little trail on your west (right side as going sobo) leading from the woods into the field on the mountain. Just a little ways into this field you will find several fantastic camping sites with incredible views and a fire ring. Water is back on the AT just north and on the east side of the trail down hill maybe a 100 ft, it was a little hard to find but good water. There are also several camping spots in the woods thru here and good limbs to hang your food on.
      Going south from there, the next 5 miles are downhill and I would go 12 miles to Saunders Shelter. A nice shelter with a large flat meadow next to it perfect for camping. Good water down the hill a little ways. From there it's just 9.1 to Damascus - a downhill followed by a 700 ft climb and then all downhill into Damascus. I cannot find my pictures but there are a few in the other thread. There were plenty of water sources through this section, mostly every mile or two except from the stream after Wise Shelter there is a 5 mile dry section until you get to Thomas Knob Shelter- see your guide book.
      "Dazed and Confused"
      Recycle, re-use, re-purpose
      Plant a tree
      Take a kid hiking
      Make a difference
    • Thank you for the info! What would you do if you had 3 nights? I wouldn’t mind a shorter first day, 11.8 mi after getting up very early, driving a few hours and catching a shuttle might be tough.
      In life there are no limitations. Except stupidity. If you're stupid, you're screwed.

      Stephan Pastis
    • If I had three nights I'd spend a day riding the Creeper Trail or you could get shuttled a little further north to USFS 84. The AT will be .3 mile up Hurricane Creek Trail which looks like it intersects the AT very near (just north) of Hurricane Shelter. From the AT here it is right at 11 miles to Wise Shelter which does have camp sites although the guide book doesn't mention them. Going south from there, camp at White top Mountain as above. Just be aware that adding this section from Hurricane trail that it will be mostly uphill all the way to the Highlands.
      "Dazed and Confused"
      Recycle, re-use, re-purpose
      Plant a tree
      Take a kid hiking
      Make a difference
    • Thanks for all the info, JJ. I’m thinking about your first option...shuttling to Grayson Highlands and hiking 11.8 the first day. There’s no reason I can’t get up super early and be in Damascus by 8.

      Any suggestions on where to shower after the hike? I’ll have a 7ish hr drive to PA. Does M.R Outfitters have showers?
      In life there are no limitations. Except stupidity. If you're stupid, you're screwed.

      Stephan Pastis
    • Re: Showers

      There's a truck stop at exit 150 on I-81 in Daleville VA. Pilot Travel Center. I've used it for post-hike showers a couple of times. Surprisingly clean - the individual bathrooms are scrubbed and re-stocked after each use.

      And just around the corner near the AT crossing of Route 220 is the Three Li'l Pigs BBQ. Makes for a nice break from the interstate.
      Trudgin' along the AT since 2003. Completed Sections: Springer Mountain to Winding Stair Gap NC, Max Patch to Franconia Notch NH and the Gale River Trail to Pinkham Notch NH.
    • StalkingTortoise wrote:

      Re: Showers

      There's a truck stop at exit 150 on I-81 in Daleville VA. Pilot Travel Center. I've used it for post-hike showers a couple of times. Surprisingly clean - the individual bathrooms are scrubbed and re-stocked after each use.

      And just around the corner near the AT crossing of Route 220 is the Three Li'l Pigs BBQ. Makes for a nice break from the interstate.
      I have found memories of Ther Li'l Pigs BBQ! Went there right off the trail. Waitress brought me both a pitcher of lemonade and water to go with the great BBQ. :thumbup:
      The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
      Richard Ewell, CSA General
    • max.patch wrote:

      Astro wrote:

      Traffic Jam wrote:

      Excellent suggestions, y’all. I’ve been wanting to try a truck stop shower. Seriously, it’s sort of a bucket list item...life experience!
      is spending a night at the Doyle on *that list? ;)
      lol, i guarantee that the truck stop shower is cleaner than the doyle bathtub!!!
      When I looked at the sheets on my bed I didn't know if I should sleep in my hiking clothes and shower in the morning, or shower and change into my night clothes like I normally would. :rolleyes:
      The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
      Richard Ewell, CSA General
    • Called to arrange my shuttle and decided on the fly to get a later start and hike low miles on day 1. It just felt right and sounded like the least stressful option.

      Fingers crossed that something doesn’t happen to mess up my plans.

      I’m a little embarrassed to admit that bear activity on that stretch concerns me. Bear bagging isn’t a skill of mine. I’m a sleep-with-your-food kind of person but don’t think it’s a good idea on this trip.
      In life there are no limitations. Except stupidity. If you're stupid, you're screwed.

      Stephan Pastis
    • I ended up not following my plan as usual. I didn’t do anything that y’all suggested but I really appreciate all the info. Y’all gave me options and details that made me feel more comfortable hiking this section (and helped with decision making).

      Yesterday was 6 miles, today was 17. (I think, haven’t checked the official mileage.). I intended to camp another night but it seems I have this problem and can’t stop if it’s too early. So I finished around 6 and drove to Roanoke and got a hotel room.

      Tomorrow...seeing my grand baby!
      In life there are no limitations. Except stupidity. If you're stupid, you're screwed.

      Stephan Pastis

      The post was edited 1 time, last by Traffic Jam ().

    • I had an experience that was a first for me, cows on the trail!

      There was a herd right on the trail and I had no idea what to do. One of them kept walking towards me so I backed up to a tree, thinking to put the tree between us if it charged. I didn’t have my hiking poles to use for defense, they were strapped to my pack so my hands were free to drink my coffee.

      I talked to those cows for a while, telling them that I wasn’t a threat and asking them to be polite and let me pass. Then I walked into the weeds, going around to give them a wide berth. It was scary, lol!
      Images
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      In life there are no limitations. Except stupidity. If you're stupid, you're screwed.

      Stephan Pastis
    • Traffic Jam wrote:

      I had an experience that was a first for me, cows on the trail!

      There was a herd right on the trail and I had no idea what to do. One of them kept walking towards me so I backed up to a tree, thinking to put the tree between us if it charged. I didn’t have my hiking poles to use for defense, they were strapped to my pack so my hands were free to drink my coffee.

      I talked to those cows for a while, telling them that I wasn’t a threat and asking them to be polite and let me pass. Then I walked into the weeds, going around to give them a wide berth. It was scary, lol!
      Who knows, the weeds may been more dangerous than the cows. :)
      I remember everyone talking about the ponies, but the cows were sorta like a surprise there for me to.
      The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
      Richard Ewell, CSA General
    • Traffic Jam wrote:

      I had an experience that was a first for me, cows on the trail!

      There was a herd right on the trail and I had no idea what to do. One of them kept walking towards me so I backed up to a tree, thinking to put the tree between us if it charged. I didn’t have my hiking poles to use for defense, they were strapped to my pack so my hands were free to drink my coffee.

      I talked to those cows for a while, telling them that I wasn’t a threat and asking them to be polite and let me pass. Then I walked into the weeds, going around to give them a wide berth. It was scary, lol!
      I've also had to walk thru cows twice on the AT. One started following me and I just scurried along. Cows are some of the dumbest animals out there. It's the bulls that you really need to be wary of.
      "Dazed and Confused"
      Recycle, re-use, re-purpose
      Plant a tree
      Take a kid hiking
      Make a difference
    • jimmyjam wrote:

      Traffic Jam wrote:

      I had an experience that was a first for me, cows on the trail!

      There was a herd right on the trail and I had no idea what to do. One of them kept walking towards me so I backed up to a tree, thinking to put the tree between us if it charged. I didn’t have my hiking poles to use for defense, they were strapped to my pack so my hands were free to drink my coffee.

      I talked to those cows for a while, telling them that I wasn’t a threat and asking them to be polite and let me pass. Then I walked into the weeds, going around to give them a wide berth. It was scary, lol!
      I've also had to walk thru cows twice on the AT. One started following me and I just scurried along. Cows are some of the dumbest animals out there. It's the bulls that you really need to be wary of.
      "If you choose to cross this pasture, please do it in 25 seconds or less. The bull can do it in 30 seconds."
      Trudgin' along the AT since 2003. Completed Sections: Springer Mountain to Winding Stair Gap NC, Max Patch to Franconia Notch NH and the Gale River Trail to Pinkham Notch NH.
    • Astro wrote:

      Traffic Jam wrote:

      I had an experience that was a first for me, cows on the trail!

      There was a herd right on the trail and I had no idea what to do. One of them kept walking towards me so I backed up to a tree, thinking to put the tree between us if it charged. I didn’t have my hiking poles to use for defense, they were strapped to my pack so my hands were free to drink my coffee.

      I talked to those cows for a while, telling them that I wasn’t a threat and asking them to be polite and let me pass. Then I walked into the weeds, going around to give them a wide berth. It was scary, lol!
      Who knows, the weeds may been more dangerous than the cows. :) I remember everyone talking about the ponies, but the cows were sorta like a surprise there for me to.
      Yep, I was concerned about that.

      I wasn’t sure if one cow watched over the herd and was more protective and aggressive.
      In life there are no limitations. Except stupidity. If you're stupid, you're screwed.

      Stephan Pastis
    • Another first experience on the trail and just as disconcerting...

      I arrived at the site on Whitetop that JJ recommended and where I planned my first night but it was only 4:30 so continued on.

      After I crossed the road, there’s an open area with a tent site or two and a sign that says “Water 50 yds”. As I approached this area, I heard yelling and cursing, lots of F this, F that. I stopped, trying to figure out what was going on and where it was coming from.

      I cautiously moved down the trail and at one of the sites a couple had set up their tent and the guy was raging at the girl. He was pacing but I couldn’t see the girl. He didn’t stop yelling, even when I was in sight and I debated what to do, worrying she was in danger. Then I heard her voice and she seemed calm and even bored. So I didn’t stop and interject. Maybe I should have, it was a tough call. It soured the rest of my afternoon, worrying about her.
      In life there are no limitations. Except stupidity. If you're stupid, you're screwed.

      Stephan Pastis
    • My wife and I got chased by a bull shortly after going through the gate. My wife screamed " what do we do"... I yelled run!! We made it to a barbed wired fence and climbed to the other side. A few minutes later 3 horse back riders showed up by the gate. The bull seen them and started chasing one of them around for a few minutes before leaving the area. It took a lot of work to get my wife to go back over that fence......
    • jimmyjam wrote:

      So where'd you end up campimping that first night?
      At the campsite at 484.6 I think. Several of the trees were dead and one had recently fallen which worried me. It was next to a pasture with braying donkeys.
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      In life there are no limitations. Except stupidity. If you're stupid, you're screwed.

      Stephan Pastis
    • max.patch wrote:

      since we've veered into talking about cows and bulls -- this happened at yellowstone earlier this week.


      I've only seen my dad run once in my lifetime. Back in the 70's we spent a couple of weeks at Yellowstone. One day at a pull over my dad, and some other men that were there, decided it was a good idea to cross a fence and get some closer pictures of the bison. Half way across the field the bison started running towards them. They all made it back across the fence safely. I got in big trouble for laughing at his running style.
    • Dmax wrote:

      My wife and I got chased by a bull shortly after going through the gate. My wife screamed " what do we do"... I yelled run!! We made it to a barbed wired fence and climbed to the other side. A few minutes later 3 horse back riders showed up by the gate. The bull seen them and started chasing one of them around for a few minutes before leaving the area. It took a lot of work to get my wife to go back over that fence......
      Good place for a trail camera. Friday night movie-time would be a blast.
      In life there are no limitations. Except stupidity. If you're stupid, you're screwed.

      Stephan Pastis
    • TJ Re: Cows: In my experience cows are well mannered. Big heavy ones though, biggest fear would be slipping on a cow pie and getting stepped on. Bulls are a different story all together. I would not enter a pasture with a bull.

      TJ Re: Jerky guy. That is disturbing but it sounds like the GF was use to his antics. I would have moved on also.

      Re: Yellowstone Bull, Parents were reckless idiots for putting the girl in that danger in the first place. Not surprising their first thought was to save themselves. Sad.
      “Of all sad words of tongue or pen,
      the saddest are these, 'It might have been.”


      John Greenleaf Whittier
    • We too have a cow story. We were in New York state, headed southbound. We came to a farm field with a herd of cows in it but figured they'd be ok with us crossing as the trail went right through the field. The entire herd followed us across the field until we crossed the stile on the other side. I felt like the pied Piper and our dog seemed really happy about being followed by the cows. It was the field with the water tank that looks like a rocket ship.
    • LIhikers wrote:

      We too have a cow story. We were in New York state, headed southbound. We came to a farm field with a herd of cows in it but figured they'd be ok with us crossing as the trail went right through the field. The entire herd followed us across the field until we crossed the stile on the other side. I felt like the pied Piper and our dog seemed really happy about being followed by the cows. It was the field with the water tank that looks like a rocket ship.
      That is right after the Pawling train station. Don't remember seeing any cows, but definitely remember the water tank.
      The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
      Richard Ewell, CSA General