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Saturday, June 5, 2010

Virginia Creeper Trail

It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up them and coast down them. –ERNEST HEMINGWAY, US writer, 1899—1961

Today we rode rented bikes and completed the 34 mille VCT ( Virginia Creeper Trail). It is called the "creeper" from back in the days when trains carrying iron ore and lumber would struggle to make it up the steep grade from Damascus to White Top , making lots of noise and steam they had to creep up the inclines. Before it was a railroad line it was a route that Daniel Boone used as part of his Wilderness Road he blazed on the way to Kentucky and before that it was used by Indians as a trade route. It has been called the most beautiful trail in the country and after riding it today I  would have to agree! We rode mostly downhill for the first 17 miles down into Damascus, Virginia following beautiful rivers and creeks, over many trestles and through cool green tunnels with blooming Mountain Laurels. Along the way there are old restored train stations that sell colds drinks, hot dogs, ice cream and postcards for the thousands of people on horses, bikes and hiking the Creeper. We stopped in Damascus  for a break and rest at the very park where we had visited when we hiked through Damascus on our 2008 AT hike. It was great to be back and we even saw a few thru-hikers passing by making their own way to Maine. Shortly after leaving Damascus the trail started heading uphill on its way to the tiny town of Alvarado and then ending back in Abingdon. Now the real work began as we were really spent and it was still 17 miles back to the bike shop and Farkus our car! Since we have been travelling we have not been riding our bikes often and it showed! We did manage to get the bikes back to the shop just before they closed and now we knew why most of the riders in our shuttle van opted to only go as far as Damascus and catch a shuttle back to Abingdon. We wanted to do the whole Creeper and we did it!

Sheila at the Bike Shop in Abingdon
The Green Cove Station at Mile marker 30.5
Toesocks happy riding downhill!
Wanna race that Nag???
Leaving Damascus 17 miles to Abington to go
One of the almost 100 bridges we crossed
Yes Sheila we must get back on these bikes!
An old barn trailside
End of the trail back in Abingdon
                                                                                    Glad to return the bikes!

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