From: September 16 to September 22, 2018

Destination: Damascus, Virginia

  • Slackpacking Virginia

    The Appalachian Trail truly has mythic status and for many of us, hiking it is a dream. But then we look at the reality of it and find the prospect of carrying a 40-50 pound pack on our back and sleeping on the ground rather daunting. Solution? Slackpacking! We already offer slackpacking trips at the beginning and end of the trail; in 2016 we're adding this beautiful Virginia section. We'll cover a little over fifty miles, returning at the end of the day to our lodging in the friendly little town of Damascus. We cover significant mileage on this trip so it still requires being in good shape. Maximum group size: 12

  • Sunday, September 16
    Meet at 5 p.m. At 5pm we'll meet at Mount Rogers Outfitters, an outdoor store on the main street of the small town of Damascus, Virginia. If you are flying in, the closest airport is Tri-City airport (TRI) in Bristol, VA and you can arrange a shuttle from there with Mt Rogers Outfitters. We'll have dinner out and then go to Between the Trails, our lodging for the trip. We'll review the trip and go over the information you need to make sure that you stay healthy and happy for the week!

    Monday, September 17
    Dicky Gap to Fox Creek Gap Our first day on the AT! Leaving Damascus we'll make note of the wooden stairway descending the final few feet from Straight Mountain to the final path into Damascus. We'll pass this landmark each morning until, on our last hiking day, we descend it and walk into Damascus. After shuttling to our 'put in point' and taking the requisite first pictures, we'll be off. Our trail starts at Dicky Gap, where the AT skirts the northern slope of Iron Mountain, passes through deep canopy, and continues along rolling terrain sprinkled with rocks, boulders, and a few steeper climbs before reaching our first AT shelter: Hurricane Shelter. After a brief stop we’ll continue our climb to the top of Iron Mt. From there we descend to Fox Creek Gap with its cascades and pools of refreshing cold mountain water --- a beautiful spot to enjoy before being picked up and shuttled back to Damascus for that promised shower and a great home cooked meal. Mileage: 8.5

    Tuesday, September 18
    Fox Creek Gap to Massie Gap Starting at our ending spot from yesterday we'll begin a sustained but moderate climb up the northern side of Pine Mountain to another AT shelter -- Old Orchard. This part of the trail is very pretty with lots of small water crossings and beautiful foliage, flowers, and rocks. We'll take a break here before continuing our climb to the top of Pine Mountain where the views are magnificent. After admiring the view, we'll descend to an area known as The Scales. Passing through The Scales we will once again climb - this time up Stone Mountain with beautiful vistas accompanying us. This will be our first opportunity to see the wild ponies that inhabit this part of the trail as well as giving us a great view of the fall foliage around us. As we re-enter the forest canopy, we'll be walking thru the Little Wilson Wilderness area and over both Big Wilson Creek and Little Wilson Creek before arriving at another AT shelter -- Wise Shelter. Leaving the shelter we will make our way, yes - you guessed it, 'up', toward Massie Gap where our shuttle will be awaiting our arrival. Mileage: 9.8

    Wednesday, September 19
    Massie Gap to Elk Garden Although the mileage may appear to be less for today, it is the most strenuous day of the week and one of the prettiest days of the trip! Old growth forest, Grayson Highlands, Fat Man's Squeeze, Wilburn Ridge, Rhododendron Gap – all these are part of our path today. Vista after vista and "sound of music" moments await. The AT shelter in this section is Thomas Knob -- another perfect opportunity for a break and gazing at the panoramic vista from the rocky prominence just behind the shelter. Leaving the shelter area, we will take a bit of a side trip as we follow the path that leads to the top of Mount Rogers, the highest peak in Virginia. The hike to the top (optional) will take about 1 hour and steadily climbs with an elevation gain of about 500 feet in less than 1 mile. There are no views from the summit but the old growth forest we hike through is beautiful. Returning, we'll continue toward our destination for today, Elk Garden. Mileage: 7.1, optional mileage +2.0

    Thursday, September 20
    Elk Garden to Creek Junction Station Back to Elk Garden this morning, we continue making our way south. Our destination today is Creek Junction Station - right where the AT and the Virginia Creeper Trail intersect and the former location of a stop on the railway line servicing Damascus and Abingdon. Our hike continues to give us beautiful meadows, gorgeous views, and dense canopy. Today we'll enjoy the view from Buzzard Rock and drink in the beauty of a lovely patch of pine forest. The AT shelter we pass today, Lost Mountain Shelter, is located among one of those pine forests and offers a beautifully peaceful settings for a shelter - if that shower and another great meal weren't awaiting us perhaps we'd just stay the night! But, we will continue, crossing and following Laurel Creek to the intersection of the Virginia Creeper Tail and the AT where our shuttle is waiting. Mileage: 10.3

    Friday, September 21
    Creek Junction Station to Damascus It's hard to believe but this is our last day (at least for this trip!) on the AT. We'll pick back up at Creek Junction Station, keep hiking south and walk triumphantly into Damascus! Along the way we'll stop by a deep woods pond for a frog concert, summit Straight Mountain overlooking the Virginia Creeper Trail, and enjoy that stairway walk we've passed each day, down to our final path into Damascus. Mileage: 13.5

    Saturday, September 22
    After sharing one final breakfast, you are free to leave anytime after breakfast on Saturday. Please note, for planning purposes, the airport is approximately 1 hour from Damascus.
  • Price: $1450  (see this page for discounts). Deposit $300.  A limited number of single supplements are available for an additional $240.  Please make sure you understand our cancellation policies.

    Trip Includes

    • Two experienced guides
    • Six nights lodging
    • All meals from dinner on Sunday through breakfast the following Saturday with the exception of one dinner
    • Daily shuttles back and forth to the trailhead

    What's not included:  Airfare to/from Virginia (TRI), travel  to Damascus, one dinner, alcoholic beverages, guide gratuities. 

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  • Common Questions

    If you’ve never traveled with us before, you may have some questions about how we do things and what you can expect. We’ve answered the most common ones below and are always available by phone or email to answer any others.

    How do I pay for my trip?

    You can make the deposit by submitting a secure form with your credit card information after filling out the registration form or calling us with your card information. We will send you an invoice for the balance due with your Predeparture Information 4 months before an International trip and 3 months before a domestic trip. You can get a 3% discount for paying the balance by check.

    What if I’m coming alone?

    The majority of women who travel with us come by themselves. If you want to pay a single supplement to guarantee your own room, or if you want to share a room with someone with whom you are traveling, you can indicate that on the registration form. Otherwise we randomly assign roommates and rotate every time we change lodging – it’s a great way to get to know different women on the trip.

    Can you accommodate special diets?

    It depends on both the trip and on your specific needs. With advance notice, we can accommodate most dietary restrictions or allergies on our domestic trips, including vegetarian, vegan, and gluten intolerant. This is not always true on international trips, so please contact us in advance if you have specific dietary needs. We've found that if you are willing to bring some of your own snacks and a couple of items to supplement what is on the menu (peanut butter is always good!) and possibly have less variety than you are used to at home, then dietary needs usually are no obstacle. If in doubt about your specific dietary needs, especially if you have Celiac disease, please give us a call (877/439-4042) or send us an email.

    What if I have to cancel my trip?

    The amount of your refund depends on how close to the trip you cancel and whether it is a domestic or an international trip. You can read our cancellation policies here. We highly recommend travel insurance because cancellations are always unexpected; we will send you additional information about insurance when you register.

    Will my family be able to get in touch with me in case of an emergency?

    Yes, we always send out emergency contact information. On a few trips, because of limitations in communication, the best approach is to give them the office number and let us make the contact.

    What other information will you send me?

    When you register, we’ll send you a Trip Summary that includes the itinerary, travel information, and a packing list. Three to four months before your trip we’ll send you Pre-Departure information that includes detailed information on how to get to the trip starting point, pre- or post-trip lodging suggestions, suggested books and websites etc. Four to six weeks before the trip, we’ll send you a list of everyone who is registered along with their travel plans; and a Pre-Trip letter with the name of your guide(s) and how to contact them if your arrival is delayed as well as any other important updates.

    Do you help with pre-trip and/or post-trip hotel reservations?

    For international trips, if you want to stay at the hotel where we’re staying the first night before the trip, or at the hotel we’re staying the last night after the trip, we’re happy to make a reservation for you. Otherwise our PreDeparture Information will have hotel suggestions. Our travel agent is also happy to help you with this.

    How does the waitlist process work and how often do people cancel?

    If you are interested in a trip that is full, you should sign up here. If there is a cancellation, we send out an email to everyone who has expressed interest and ask them to respond within 24 hours. If more than one person is interested, we give the space to the person who has traveled with us before or in the order of being put on the waitlist. Frequently, even when we have a long wait list, it is the last person to sign up who is still available to go. Whether or not there will be a cancellation is completely unpredictable, although not uncommon.

    What is the role of the guide(s)?

    On every trip, the primary roles of the guide(s) are to ensure your safety and to make sure that, to the extent possible, you are having the trip you want. The guide(s) will also make sure that you know what is happening each day and what you need to bring to be prepared. On domestic trips the guide(s) will also likely be driving, preparing picnic lunches and sometimes other meals, providing skills instruction, and giving you information about the natural history of the area. On any trip where we partner with another company (which is most international trips and some trips that require special equipment), the AGC guide will work with the local guide to make sure that the trip is conducted in accordance with the AGC philosophy.

    What if I have more questions?

    Give us a call (877/439-4042) or send us an email. A Program Manager is assigned to each trip. Once you have registered, she will send you a registration confirmation letter that includes her name and email, and she will be your primary contact. Her job is to make sure that you get all your questions answered and that you feel completely prepared for your adventure.

    What if I'm the oldest/youngest/heaviest/least in shape/only single woman/only mom on the trip?

    You might be. Someone has to be the oldest/youngest/heaviest/least in shape person on the trip. And while the great majority of our trips have both single and non-single women, and moms and non-moms, sometimes they don't. But it doesn't matter if you're "different" in any of those ways - what you will share with everyone else is a desire to experience adventure in your life, and an appreciation of the joy and camaraderie of being in an all women's group.

Trip highlights

  • Hiking one of the most beautiful sections of the Appalachian Trail
  • Enjoying wild pony herds, amazing vistas, beautiful mountain streams and fall foliage
  • Hiking thru Rhododendron Gap, Fat Man's Squeeze, Buzzard Rock, The Scales - all classic AT landmarks
  • Returning to a comfortable bed and hot shower at the end of every day
  • Earning your trail name and learning the lore of the Appalachian Trail
  • Carrying only what you need for the day on your back

Register for this trip today

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