Friday, July 25, 2014

Virginia Creeper Trail: Abingdon to Damascus

Today I made it back to the Virginia Creeper Trail with a bicycle for the first time since my AT thru-hike in 2000. Unlike last time, however, I would be riding the Abingdon to Damascus section, and unlike last time I would not be riding it alone. I had my friend Burke along to ride with.

We met in Kingsport and drove up into Virginia in Burke's vehicle. We arrived at the trailhead, readied our gear and hit the trail. We passed a large steam locomotive at the trailhead
and soon after passed an enormous oak tree.
big tree
The cycling started out fairly easy, being a slightly downhill ride.
Virginia Creeper Trail
We crossed over several bridges,
Eric on bridge
including one that had recently been rebuilt due to the fact that it had been destroyed by a tornado.
Burke approaches bridge
Soon the old rail bed followed along the Middle Fork of the Holston River. There were lots of pleasant views out across the water.
river rapids
rock formation on Holston

We crossed over the river and found ourselves pedaling uphill. Still, the riding never got too difficult. We passed through lots of pasture land and had to open and close many gates across the trail to keep cattle from getting loose.
cow near trail
I found riding through the old road cuts that were blasted out in the early 1900s to be very interesting!
Burke near rock cut
About two hours after we started our ride, we were in Damascus. It was my first visit to the famed trail town since Trail Days 2000. My memory paints a very different picture of the town that what actually exists, but perhaps that is because the town has changed a bit in 14 years.

We walked around town a bit and got lunch at the Blue Blaze Cafe. They claim to have the "best cheesesteak south of Philly" and they might just be right. I got the Pat and Geno with cheese and grilled onions and it tasted pretty authentic. It actually tasted better than anything Pat's or Geno's might serve (those are the two most overrated steak joints in Philly).

After eating our large cheesesteak lunch we were reluctantly able to get back on the bikes for the the 15 mile ride back to Abingdon.
rock cut again
We were definitely a bit slower on the return, but it was partly because we stopped to check out some of the sights we had passed earlier on our ride including a nice riverside view
calm river
and a limestone cave that went deeper than we were willing to go.
Eric in cave entrance
By the end of the ride we were both a bit saddle sore as neither of us had ridden in a while.
Burke on long bridge
Still we had a great time and have already decided that we need to meet up again to ride the Damascus to Whitetop section some day.              

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've been wanting to go climb that big Oak tree