Day 75

Sat 23rd June

It was a good choice not to walk yesterday especially with all that rain
I woke at 6 am as Tree hugger was up and was having an early cooked breakfast then he was going to slack pack the next 2 sections
I should meet him later today going the other way.
At 7 I got up and went downstairs. Scot thought I said 7 but 7.30 also worked.
I sat on a stool in the kitchen and chatted to Lost & Found and Onion as they finished their breakfast. I poured myself a coffee and chilled.
Scot was running Tree hugger to town then he would cook me breakfast (included in the room rate)
I ate the same as yesterday. Fried eggs and toast. Scot makes his own jams and I loved the BlackBerry lime and pineapple bloody good. I polished off my breakfast drained another cup of coffee followed by a large orange juice.

I was now trail ready. I went back upstairs and grabbed my pack. before returning to the kitchen, where I put fresh water into my bladder.
Okay all packed, Scot suggested that I weigh my pack
My pack weighed in at 46lb that’s far too heavy for most hikers, but it’s always been that weight. It’s mainly food and so it should get lighter.
But tomorrow I must tackle the. “Roller coaster” Yes that is its name several miles of straight ups and straight downs. I am so looking forward to that.
I thanked my hosts, had a group photo then I was off.

I walked along the road heading back to the tail and was amazed that several cars stopped to ask if I needed a lift to town even though I hadn’t had my thumb out. I thanked them but said I was re-joining the trail.

As soon as I was on the AT it began to climb   and was still very wet from all that rain. There was a river running along the trail and occasionally spilling out across the trail as it tumbled down hill. I desperately tried to keep my feet dry, so I was constantly crossing back and forth to avoid the deep parts. I arrived at a fast-flowing creek, but there were enough large rocks for me to keep my feet dry.

I spent a few hours climbing then as the trail evened out it became all soupy again so more fun to manoeuvre around it and painfully slow.
As I was descending into another forest I met a familiar face it was Tree hugger.
Dam I said I was hoping to meet him much later in the day
He must be really flying as he only had 7 miles to do to get back to the hostel.
He told me the condition of the trail ahead and then he was gone.
That’s the advantage of slack packing over me carrying .my stuff.

Oh well. I still thought that I was doing well and should be able to reach at least 18 miles.
I debated with myself whether to stop for lunch at 12 or 1pm.
I decided to reach the next shelter then I could get water at the same time.
Again, it was so humid that I was completely soaked and could wring out my shorts and top. maybe I will change at the shelter
The shelter sign then appeared so I stopped. as I was thinking another hiker was coming up from the shelter.
How far is it I asked?
50 yards. he replied.
So, I needed down the Blue Blazed trail. When I reached it there were 8 people there? I said excuse me and grabbed and signed the book.
Are you all Japanese I asked?
No, we are Koreans. I chatted for a while took pictures of them with their own cameras before they left me in peace to eat. I sat down at the table and ate my snacks in my wet soggy clothes.
Maybe it’s the salt? But as I sat munching several bees began to dive bomb me and then there were more on my poles.
This wasn’t fun, so I hurriedly packed up and set off.
I passed several more Koreans going South then. several other day hikers.
Soon I emerged onto a bright open meadow. Sat on a bench were a couple. any nice views they asked ..No sorry only mud. I continued and crossed over railway tracks then under the freeway.
I then found the trail again and continued. I crossed several bridges before starting one of many climbs.
I looked at my watch. It had just gone 3.30…. I will walk to 6 I decided that should give me miles.
I pushed on passing the next shelter, I paused to check my map and see she. water was 3 miles. Yes perfect, although I could hear the rush of water nearby. It was a very wide creek that rushed over many rocks. But that made it much easier to cross. I managed it without getting wet hurrah.
The next part of the trail was very soupy, and I struggled to avoid the mud. . I then came to the junction and the next. shelter but I wanted those extra miles so pushed on.
I was slipping and sliding through more mud when I came across a group of scouts they were just put for the night. a little further on I came to an ice chest. but it was empty apart from. Water. I grabbed a gallon and glugged some down then filled up my bottles just as it started to rain.

It was for cash heavy rain and storms at 3 it was an hour late!
I quickly walked on and luckily found a tent space. I quickly got out my poles and set up.my fly. put down the footprint then assembled my tent. It was down now a huge downpour and I hurriedly got my stuff inside. I stripped off my wet things and chilled. I was just about to cook. when the rain stopped, and the sun came out and then it was hot. Bloody typical ….
I got out and sat on a rock then began to cook. . I was annoyed that I had stopped too early.
but it was nice to have an early night. I finished cooking and hung my food. then had an early night
I will try to get up early tomorrow. as I will start the “Roller coaster” a series of large climbs and decent. for 17 miles I am so looking forward to it ha ha
Start 971
Finish 987
Miles 16

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Day 74

I had to be up for breakfast but not until 8.30 so I dozed.

I had managed lock my banking, so this was my main priority. Scot was making breakfast. and outside the rain continued to fall. Most peep had decided to take a zero.it seemed such a good idea
Scot is there room for one more night. Yes, snail but we will need to bump you up to the house
cool so now I can relax and concentrate on the bank issues. The problem is there is no cell service. so, I tried my UK sim, still no service.
I made myself busy until I could shift my gear over to the house, which I couldn’t do until 12 ish. Outside the rain continued to pour and pour.
I’m sure the trail must be a boggy mess … such fun.
At last it was time for me to move my stuff.

I grabbed my pack and walked over with Onion and Tree hugger. after settling in we all decided to go into town. Dog-whisper joined us.
We asked Scot to recommend a place, so he dropped us off at the Blue Frog.
It was a smart looking restaurant there was an English chef who helping, and he was having a quick beer, his London accent giving him away.
I had a burger. rare with bacon and avocado and salsa fries. Both were delicious.

.

Whilst in the restaurant I was able to ring my bank. the lady said she had changed my security to allow me to reset my online banking

After we finished up. we decided to see a movie and chose the Incredibles 2.
Not as good as the first , but still a fun entertaining film
After the film we mooched around town I visited the outfitters as I really fancied a chair , one that’s  lightweight so I do not have to sit in the Dirt
They  had similar   although I though expensive !
Maybe when I get to Harper’s Ferry!!.

Okay we all needed some groceries so headed t the store. I topped up my supplies and  brought  a frozen meal for tea which I enjoyed later with a few beers

Then it was bed .

Miles zero

Day 73

After yesterday’s late late start!
I was Hoping that I would maybe on the trail earlier.My first alarm went off. I silenced it. Then second went off st 6 am I meant to snooze it but cancelled it. I lay dozing try g not to sleep.
Come on get up.
I emerged and did a huge horse wee, before collecting my food bag. I stripped off my fly and then fired up my stove for tea.
Whilst that heated I stripped down the rest of my gear and then my tent. although I struggled with my tent as o. the bottom. or group sheet it was covered in slugs .and these little buggers were not easy to remove. s d them. I had to repeat the process on the footprint.
Okay we are done. I hoisted up my pack and set off back to the store. I hoped for hot coffee and Danish, but the sign said open from.9 am and it was only 7.30. Oh well.
I made. y way back up the path and re-joined the trail.
Again, it was a nice cool morning as I made my way along the trail. Occasionally there was a viewing point for me to look.

as the morning moved on the fog descended again. so, the views become hidden in mist. And then an hour later the so. returned. I pushed on until 12 when I decided to take a break. I crossed a road and you’d a suitable log to sit on. dropped my pack and opened my snack bag.

Whilst I sat chilli g I checked Gut hooks I had done 9.7 miles COOL. I should be able to do the same and get to the hostel. As I began a steep downhill part, my legs suddenly disappeared, and I lay in a heap.
A voice asked if I was okay and helped me up. I was good but embarrassed.
The guy was part of a 10-strong team who were out pulling invasive plants from the trail.
I thanked him sheepishly and continued, with his words of “Have a great hike” echoing in my ears.
On the next switchbacks. I. Met the rest if the crew
I felt good and happy as I pounded down the trail. I soon noticed somebody behind me it was Dog a hiker I had shared a room with in Waynesboro.
He was slack packing so raced past me. Although I eventually caught him getting water at the next stream…
From here the hostel was 7 miles away and mostly down apart from one small climb.
I have got this and took off after Dog. the trail indeed goes down and I crossed out of the Shenandoah Park.
I circled down until I came to a hut / shelter. I decided to visit it and at least sign my name.
It was very clean, tidy and empty. Although I didn’t stay long as I had a target to meet.
Down and down switchback after switchback. I eventually came to a large creek. Okay let’s try and cross this and stay dry!
Once across I sat on another log and checked my phone which promptly died Bugger.
I grabbed my battery and plugged in my phone. before starting theses climb. As I climbed four deer walked out in front of me. It made me laugh as I hadn’t seen any for a while.

Once over this hill it was another long downhill until I hit the main road.
I took.my time enjoying the view. When I got to the road there was another hiker sat chilling. Which way to the hostel I asked
To the right., He replied
Thanks.
I found the hostel and checked in $30.
Dog was already here.
I found a bed. Dropped my pack and jumped straight into the shower. Then Dog and I got a lift to town.
We had planned on visiting the Brewery, but it was closed due to a private party, it was the Harley Davidsons woman’s chapter   could have been fun !!
We quickly found another bar, the beer was good, and I had decided to try ribs again. They were really tasty but not the best, I followed the ribs with cheese cake before calling it a night.
On the way back we stopped to get beer and snacks. Once back I sorted out laundry whilst enjoying a few more ales before Bed

Miles 20

Day 70

Mon 18th June

Considering my camp spot, I had slept okay, my alarm went off at 5.30 I snoozed it. Finally emerging at 6 30.
I packed up in a hurry, but it still took me an hour before I stepped onto the trail.
I pushed on as it was already hot too hot far too hot. the forest was so humid that the water. was flowing out of me in minutes …. not a good sign.
As I made my way up towards the summit I was surprised on how little campsites / tent sites there were and thought myself lucky to have found that spot
Eventually I reached the top , Chemist was just packing up, but he would soon catch me.
After the summit I began to spiral down, but I was melting it was oh so hot. As I continued I saw an opening so went to see if there was a view. Yes, there was, and it was pretty good. I was just leaving when Batty came past
Hiya snail she said.
As I continued down the trail I met a ranger coming up he wanted to see my pass. once he saw it he was happy and very chatty
I pushed on eventually meeting back up with Chemist who was getting water, so I stopped to fill up too.
The rest of the morning was climb and climb some more. I pushed on, but I was melting so finally took a break at 12pm a. hour earlier than I would have liked. I sat on a rock sweating.
I was so HOT and wet but not in a good way. after 30 mins I resumed my hike. but with a new goal.
My plan was now to get to the campground so a 16-mile day.
I was so tired and weary with more climbs to do that I wondered if I could make that.
Several hours later I came to a marker post. I had arrived.
I made my way along the side trail dropping down into the park. I walked not sure where I was going. Eventually I asked someone. Excuse me do you know where the store is.
Up on your left came the answer.
I walked on until I spied several other hikers. and the store.
I dropped my pack and walked inside where I ordered a pint of ice cream. 2 beers and a lemon soda.
I walked over to the other hikers who were sat at a picnic table and attacked my spoils.
the ice cream was delicious, and the lemonade quenched my thirst. I was now ready for beer
Once done I went back into the store brought bug spray, a tube of Pringles, another meal and another box of wine. I also enquired about a shower.
A shower cost a buck, so I handed over money and she gave me. back 1/4s
I walked to the shower. took off my shoes and socks and walked right in shampooing my clothes before stepping out of them.
I soaped myself again then I was done. I put on fresh dry gear before wringing out my dirty clothes. I was just getting my pack ready when Bumblebee and No-poles appeared.
Good choice on the wine I said
She laughed.
I stood up  and was about  to leave when the heavens opened . I quickly  took off my pack and sat back down again
It was a good 20 minutes before the rain stopped,  I watched the pavements turn to steam as  the heat  dispersed the rain .
It was so difficult to leave but I must, the next shelter was about 2 miles away which would do me for the day.
I marched out of the camp and back to the trail and began to walk. but then was annoyed as there were other paths to the camp, much shorter than the one I came down arrh.
Okay 2 miles that’s about an hour. I pushed on until I came to  a  concrete marker post that informs you of landmarks in the Shenandoah park. The shelter or huts as they are called in the Shenandoah’s was down a side trail .1 mile the post said. I headed down and soon saw the hut. there were 4 section hikers there who I had been leapfrogging for most of the day.
They had tried to camp but got hit by the earlier rain. I went and found a tent site before returning to cook my food. I tried a new meal which was really tasty and washed it down with red wine. I cleaned up then put my food in a bear box. makes a changed not to put my food bag in a tree much easier.

miles walked 17

Day 71

I woke early. retrieved my food from the box, packed up and was on the trail by 7.30 Good effort SNAIL.
I wanted some good Miles today as yesterday was a bit poor I headed up the trail with determination and looking forward to a good breakfast at the next wayside.

It was a good trail, not many climbs and a great surface.
Ping went my watch, wow I was really flying and should arrive much earlier, great I thought. As I came down a hill I could see a field of bee hives, but as I got nearer I could see that they were grave stones in a small cemetery. I was just crossing over the road she. I met 2 hikers coming the other way and they were both British. we chatted for a moment and they gave. e directions to the wayside.
I was soon at the wayside, I dropped my pack and placed it by the wall with my sticks before going inside and to the restaurant and found a seat. I ordered a large lemon soda and the BIG breakfast., I quickly drained my drink and as I put down the empty glass it was immediately swapped for another.
I was staring out of the window when and noticed Bumble Bee arriving. She dropped her pack next to mine and joined me at the table. My breakfast arrived, and I set to work on it.
It was good. I then I ordered another of the amazing BlackBerry Shakes. yummy.
When done I wandered through the store? brought a ham and cheese sub, a fruit salad and another box of wine for later.
I then sat in the sun for five minutes reorganizing my pack.
Omg I have spent almost 2 hours here. Dam lol okay I may not make the second shelter.
I set off leapfrogging Bumblebee for most of the afternoon, I was just starting another climb when I noticed 2 hikers standing in the trail.
Omg one was Squirrel.
“Hey Squirrel, great go sees you. I said
we chatted for a while, then Bumble bee caught us   and we chatted some more before moving on.
I was leading   until the climb started and so stopped for a break. Squirrel passed by and soon vanished up the trail. I followed on still leapfrogging Bumblebee until we arrived at a riding school. There were about a dozen young hikers sat around picnic tables.

Suddenly whoosh the heavens opened sending the hikers scurrying for shelter. I managed to get under the porch and put on my packs rain. cover on. Bumblebee did the same.
You know what Snail a hotel would be a good idea. “Said Bumble bee
I had to agree with her as the Lodge was .2 miles up the road
We made us to the lodge through the downpour and found the office. I booked a room little pricy but hey.

I then went and found the bar, Sat  inside was fish>
Hey fish   I  thought that you would be long gone
We did a few beers before I decided that I was hungry and  ordered some food Once eaten I explore the shop and brought several t-shirts and bits.
I then retrieved my backpack and went in search of my room. I should have done this much earlier as it was quite a distance away eventually I found if. Once inside I stripped off and had a lovely hot shower. I relaxed on the bed opened my wine and watched a film on the telly.

 

Shenandoah National Park extends along the Blue Ridge Mountains in the U.S. state of Virginia. The Skyline Drive runs its length, and a vast network of trails includes a section of the long-distance Appalachian Trail. Mostly forested, the park features wetlands, waterfalls and rocky peaks like Hawksbill and Old Rag mountains. Shenandoah is home to many bird species, plus deer, squirrels and the elusive black bear.

miles 17

Day 69 Shenadoah mtns

Sunday

my alarm went off early as I wanted to get up early and crush some miles. but instead I switched it off. Finally emerging at 6.30. but I was slow it took me ages to strip down and pack up, so it was 8 am before my feet bit the trail. As I walked several clean smelling hikers passed me by going South. They must be up early I thought. I pushed on amazed how nice the trail was and then debated to myself if I should have gone on last night.

No, I did the right thing. In the Shenandoah national park, the signposts are concrete blocks with the directions etched into aluminium bands. so, I must look closely to see which direction I should be heading.

My main concern was water as I was out, the next shelter was getting closer, but it was off trail. several hours later I arrived at

the marker post taking me the shelter was .2 miles to the east (my right).

I followed the blue blazes down the trail. Until the shelter came into view. I expected it to be empty but there was some one here. Her name was Sierra which I really liked she was a veterinary nurse. we chatted for a while before I went and got water. It was a piped spring and so u didn’t filter. I topped up.my bladder and gulped down a litre.

Sierra went and got water but as she filtered water leaked everywhere. I explained that she had possibly over tightened the connection. wrecking the “O” ring I suggested giving the. Company a call and get a replacement. I would have liked to have hiked with her, but she was only out for the weekend and was getting picked up by a shuttle later to go home and back to work.

I said my goodbyes and retraced my steps back up towards the trail. The next few miles were up as I made my way up Black mountain, but as I neared the top it began to get busy with tourists and their dogs.

I flowed the trail around the mountain taking in the amazing views. and chatting to the day-trippers.

I spent the next four of hours going in and out of the forest crossing backwards and forwards over the same road as I climbed. I was making good time and was looking good to get lunch at the loft wayside.

I was busy pushing when I spotted it …. A bear a great big bloody huge bear. I slowly got out my camera and began to shoot. he saw me. he looked at me he totally ignored me.

Bear

 

omg I saw a bear. I was so so excited. omg that has made my day. A round the next corner was a fawn and mum. they walked down the trail before bolting off into the woods. but hey I’ve seen my first bear and rather close too.

Soon I came to the trail that took me down to the wayside (cafe and gift shop) it took about 20 minutes down this side trail.

As I approached I cod see Bumblebee and her fella I walked inside and said hi

Bumblebee recommended the BlackBerry milkshake and her husband said the burger WAS good. Sounds good to me. so, I ordered a burger and fries, a blackberry milkshake a d a large sprite that I drained instantly. Yes, the burger WAS good. but omg the BlackBerry milkshake was the best that I have had ☆☆☆☆☆

after I finished my plate I pottered around the gift store.

Bumblebee grabbed a carton of wine. that a good idea so I grabbed one too. I so grabbed a few cards to send home

I sat outside to write my cards, but I had no cell service so couldn’t pull the addresses.

Oh well.!

Bumblebee then asked where I was heading. well if like to reach the 900 then crash I said.

They had planned on doing the same.

I brought I more coke that I promptly drank then I was away. back up the side trail and then back to the trail.

it was just 1pm when I re-joined the trail. the next shelter was 4 miles away, but I wanted the next one that was 12 miles. It was doable. but I’m a friendly chap and when people talk to me I chat back and so I lost about an hour. plus, some big climbs and the target became unrealistic unless I pushed on late.

Okay I will walk to 6 and see where I am as I crossed my last road I was nearing 900 miles

I knew that I needed to get water here from. The rangers station. so, followed the road until I reached the building. There was a tap. I filled up.my bottles then frank one so filled it up again.

I walked back up. The road and re-joined the trail I hadn’t gone far when I spotted Bumblebee setting up. Her tent.

Nice spot I said. and carried on but I was tired. after almost 40 minutes of walking I spotted a place that may do.

yep it’s fine. my tent was soon up. I hung my rope ready for my food bag then made my supper. I had a treat with chilli Mac washed down with red wine

A great day a bear and 900 miles

miles walked 21.4

 

Day 47 memorial Day

Saturday 26th May

I slept well but woke to the sound of rain drops. but they quickly stopped so I began to pack up as my water boiled
I also had instant oats. I was just finishing up when handstand and her crew came by. I drained my tea then set off.
I liked the way my vest fitted after surgery to the arms.
I set off at a good pace it was overcast and, in the forest, quite steamy. some breeze please.

It wasn’t long until I was climbing. and climbing in fact I was climbing for most of the morning. then it began to drizzle so I stopped and put my pack cover on.

then back to the trail. but then the sky opened, and it really began to rain. Being in the forest I was sheltered but then I emerged into an open meadow and so soon was soaked. but I pushed on I seemed to be crossing meadow after meadow. until I arrived at the road. There was a sign for a hostel I thought about it briefly but then crossed the road and headed back to the trail. and another field.
This is when the trail really annoys me as it seemed to do a figure of eight through the field. Arrrh…. I then moved into the forest but to get in I had to climb a huge stile and would climb another to get out.
as I dropped down in the distance I could see the river. It began to get closer the lower I travelled. I then followed it along for a while. There had been a recent tree fall and so the river looked swollen.
I crossed the bridge and began to climb eventually coming to the first shelter.
There were two hikers there. Preacher and Fish. I signed the book swing that Bob had been there.
I began to leave. The two hikers asked where I was going

The second shelter came my reply.
May see you their snail they both said. Your both pass me I laughed.

I set off down the trail following another creek. I followed it for ages. Until I began to climb. On this part of the trail there were numerous trees down across the trail. Some were quite difficult to get over or around.
I pushed on and the sun came out making the forests steamy again. I stopped to check my maps for water. As I did fish came past. caught you Snail.

Fish soon disappeared up the trail. I set off After him and began to drop down into a road.
Again as I got nearer I could see people. There was a white van dishing out trail magic.
Cold soda and ice cream my fav. I was handed a lemon soda and a Lilly I woofed both.
They also had a huge Black Labrador who was fetching trees from. The forest like my dog.

I thanked them both for my treats and headed back to the trail. This last 5 miles was up and bloody tough after an hour I passed a bunch of tents. That seemed a good idea. but I pushed on. The switchbacks started gentle but quickly became insanely steep.

Omg I said as I chugged up this bloody mountain. I paused at a tent spot but carried on. god this is steep. Then I emerged into more meadows that carried on forever. with nowhere to tent. I passed by a group of girls resting I said hi and pushed on several hours later j was still crossing more meadows but wow the view was amazing, but I was tired.
This meadow seamed endless. I had had enough but there was nowhere to stop. then I saw au tent it was fish who had squeezed his in a small clearing.

Snail water is down there.
I went and got water. It was good. then it was my .1 mile to the shelter.

hurrah I’m here. I expected it to be full and it was. but there were faces I knew. 3 socks and Bob.
I got my tent up then went to the shelter to cook. my first cuppa tasted fab. I then make supper and more tea before heading to my tent. I hung my food then chilled

They also had a huge Black Labrador who was fetching trees from.the forest like my dog .

I thanked them both for my treats and headed back to the trail. This last 5 miles was up and bloody tough after an hour I passed a bunch of tents. That seemed a good idea. but

hurrah I’m here. I expected it to be full and it was . but there were faces I knew. 3 socks and Bob.

I got my tent up then went to the shelter to cook . my first cuppa tasted fab .I then make supper and more tea before heading to my tent. I hung my food then chilled.