Maria is a channeler, acupuncturist and contributor to our Gaia Blog.
My boo and I decided to celebrate the cooler temperatures of fall by heading to the mountains for some camping and biking.
I wanted to check out the Virginia Creeper Trail. I’m not a mountain-biking kinda gal; I like a paved or hard-packed trail, and I ride at medium speed. I’m in it more for the scenery and fun, rather then a hard-core workout. The VCT sounded like a perfect fit.
After a bit of googling I found this Cherokee National Forest tent-only campsite in Damascus, VA, and our mini-break was planned!
Our first day out was a little overcast, around 70 degrees, and breezy. Some of the trees were just starting to change color, and the ground was covered with leaves; it was really beautiful.
The portion of the trail we biked had varied scenery. At times we were riding on people’s farms and sharing space with the chickens and cows; on other stretches we were riding alongside a river; and sometimes we were under a canopy of trees that almost made it feel like we were riding in a forest.
The VC trail is reasonably flat from it’s western-most point (in Abingdon, VA) until approximately 3 miles east of Damascus, VA (19-20 miles in total, one way). At some point east of there, it starts a pretty steep incline. So steep, in fact, that in Damascus you can hire a shuttle to take you and your bike to the top of that incline, in Whitetop, VA, so you can coast down.
We didn’t partake in the shuttle, but it appeared to be a pretty popular activity!
On day 2 I needed to give my butt a rest from the bike seat. In the morning we walked over to Backbone Rock, a (very) short distance from our campsite.
We weren’t entirely sure what to expect, but were pleasantly surprised how pretty the area was. It was green and lush with some color in the trees, and there was almost no one else around. There are stairs up to Backbone Rock, and the setting is gorgeous.
It was one of those days where you’re warm in the sun but cold in the shade, so I was pleased I’d packed my sleeveless fleece to keep me comfortable. The skort I wore ensured my ladybits stayed covered on the stairs and in the breeze!
It was only a quarter of a mile or so to go up one side of Backbone and down the other, but worth it for the view at the top of the rock.
We wandered back to get the car, and drove up and down Hwy 133 through Cherokee National Forest, doing a series of short hikes at the recreation areas we stopped at. The afternoon culminated in a late lunch picnic, complete with wine, locally grown apples, and local-to-my-home cheese (so yum, I’m still thinking about those apples!).
We’d heard there was a brewery in Abingdon, about 15 minutes away by car, so after a campground pitstop to dress more warmly, we headed to Wolf Hills Brewing.
As we wandered around town a bit before finding the beer, I was happy to have the toasty darjeeling fleece top, because temperatures were really dropping in the evenings.
My fleece is layered over the super awesome and stretchy hooded dress. I wear this dress alone, layered over pants and gauchos, and with different Gaia jackets and fleeces, depending on the weather. This is an essential piece for me, and I rarely leave home without it when I travel.
My boo is much more into beer then I am, but I tasted a few, including their Habernero brew, which was much hotter then I expected! Wolf Hills had a great, casual vibe. We hung out, listening to their alt-country Pandora station, and people-watched the locals, their dogs and their kids all enjoying themselves.
This was our last night out, and we wanted to enjoy the campfire, so we grabbed some bbq in Abingdon, then headed back to our tent to wrap up in blankets and relax in front of the flames for the evening.
I’ll definitely ride the Creeper Trail again. Damascus is a pretty tiny town, and although Abingdon is a little bigger, I’d still suggest focusing on outdoor activities if you ever head out that way. The brewery is definitely worth a visit, though, as is Bonefire BBQ.
I hope you get to travel someplace you enjoy this fall!
Maria channels, blogs, and helps you let go of the old to make room for the new at www.mariachanneling.com