Day 71 Heading To Elk Wallow Wayside Mile 951

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

Start 933
Finish 951
mileage 20 miles
Remaining 1260 Miles

Day 70 Leaving skyland resort

Day 72

I woke up early as my alarm was telling me to get up, so I quickly switched it off.
I eventually woke at 8 am got up put on the coffee and stepped into the shower .
After stepping out I watched garbage on the tv and then decided to write some postcards.
Eventually I managed to pack up and leave. I walked back to reception and checked out They also took my postcards so that was a result .
I was just about to hike out when
“Hey snail have you had the breakfast?
So about turn and  I headed to the restaurant .I dropped my pack and then I was shown to  a table.
What would you like to drink sir asked the server
Orange Juice and Coffee please  I replied .
I then made my way to the hot  counter and loaded my plate  before returning to my table.
I drained my  Coffee and juice before ordering more .
Time for seconds  so I headed back to the counter .Okay one more juice then I must go as it was  already 10am.
Omg it’s late and I want to visit the next town and post my tourist stuff to my friend in Texas.
At last I was leaving the Compound , I pushed on it was  7 miles to the road and then I need to hitch.
The morning seemed to whizz by,  maybe it was a good night’s sleep in a real bed .
Ping went my phone. cool I am  doing well, and the  miles were falling. occasionally I stopped to get a view of the countryside
Eventually I reached the road or rather the main entrance to the park. I walked out and to the Ranger booth to ask which way I needed to head.

I walked to the road and held out my thumb. Soon I was heading into Luray.
The couple dropped me at the post office. I thanked them as they drove off.

Once inside the post office I had to almost dismantle my pack as the stuff that I wanted to post was typically at the bottom. I choose a box then put all my excess gear into it and posted it up the trail.
Once done I really needed a pee so visited the  train museum as it was the nearest. It  was really interesting .
I asked if they had a AT  stamp but sadly not
Okay chores  done; I need to get back to the trail . As I  walked back to the. freeway  the rain returned   Bloody  great.
I walked to the on ramp and held out my thumb.
I was lucky as I was picked up by a Ridge runner and so I learnt a great deal on the journey back.

She was off to the first shelter to do some maintenance and had her saw and secateurs.
we walked together for a while, but  I was faster and  so said my goodbyes  and took off.
I was heading for  Elkwallow wayside . I was Hoping to get there by 4.Have supper and hike on .  As I pushed,  I began to hear the distant  rumbling of thunder occasionally I got a light sprinkle of rain even though the sun was shining with all its might.

I began to hear voices, but I couldn’t make out what direction they were coming from .Then two hikers appeared from  behind me . One was Bob Narley, but I  hadn’t seen  the other before
Hey man how are you doing .
See you at the wayside.
It was about an hour later that I arrived at Elkwallow wayside.
I dropped my pack and went inside . I ordered the chicken strips with fries, a lemon soda, milk shake and 2 beers .
I went outside to eat my dinner, I had just sat down when the sky turned black .I quickly devoured my  food  and just as I had finished  the heavens opened  and it threw it down.
I sheltered under the veranda., hoping it would soon stop .
It rained and it rained . and it just kept on raining

FUCK FUCK I can’t put my tent up.in this.
I sat in despair staring at the rain  Bob and his companion appeared
“This is not good Snail”
I totally agree, I wanted a few more miles I replied
They had planned on hiking to the  next shelter at least another 6 miles away. They are fast but it now so dark .
We watched as they shut up the shop and locked everything up .including the rest rooms (toilets)
So we cant stay in the loos  then, we all laughed .
I really wanted to camp right here but it’s prohibited (Naughty lol.)

The rain eased a little, so I left my pack with my fellow hikers  and went for a recce.
Just to the right was a picnic area  that’s perfect  for me .
I went back and retrieved my pack,
I’m going to crash just up there” I said ,
I then said my  good byes  and headed back to  my campsite

I found a good spot and managed to put up my tent quickly without everything getting too wet.
I hung my food bag, as I had eaten loads, there was no need to cook so straight to bed .

Mileage 17 miles .

Day 69 Skyland Resort Mile 933

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.

Start 917
Finish 933
mileage 16 miles
Remaining 1280 Miles

Day 68 Heading to Bear Fence Mountain

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.

Start 900
Finish 917
mileage 17 miles
Remaining 1296 Miles

Day 67 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

Start 979
Finish 900
mileage 21 miles
Remaining 1313 Miles

Day 66 Leaving Wainsboro to Shenandoah Mile 879

Saturday 16th June

I was woken by the sound of other hikers getting up and leaving. I lay awake trying to decide what to do. should I chill or hike out.
Eventually I got up poured myself some coffee then began to pack. well at least I would be ready.
Adam the owner was busy buzzing about when I asked him. if he had a pc or laptop that I could use. He pointed to a row of tablets that I haven’t noticed.
brilliant I said  and went and grabbed the USB sticks and cables from.my pack.
I backed my phone up to the tablet then copied that to the sticks It took 2 to hold all of  the data.
I was really pleased as I had been trying to do this for ages.
I was just finishing off when Zippy arrived as she had sent packages to this hostel.
We chatted while she waited for Adam to return.
When Adam returned he  asked “Who is waiting to go back to the trail?”
“Me” I said
“5 minutes”, he replied
I threw the rest of my stuff into my pack, retrieved my water bladder from the fridge and I was ready. Batty and Vauwk were also going back.
It was a short drive back to the trail head and another lovely day although it was late 10.30. the sun was beaming down as I hoisted up my pack. As I set off up the trail, immediately everything began to hurt as my body realised we were hiking again.!
Today I was entering the Shenandoah Mountains which are supposed to be stunning. After a short hike I came to the registration booth, there is no charge, but you need to fill in a permit and carry a copy.
Once done I posted a copy into the box and set off.
The morning was mainly up but it was nice to see so many clean smelling people coming the other way. I pushed on for several hours, before the trail began to head steeply down. I passed several day hikers as I began my decent.
The bottom opened into a meadow where I needed to cross the road. As I got closer I noticed several other hikers standing by a car. Whoop trail magic. I was offered a cold beer, peach and strawberries
Thank you so much. the early beer was just perfect. I stood and chatted for several minutes before moving on.

As I had just come down it was time to climb back up. It was getting warmer and the first part had no shade. Bloody hell I muttered as the trail became steep. but at last it evened out as I crested the top. Up here were several communication masts. I would have stopped and checked mail, but I wanted to push as it would be a short day. after this climb the trail meandered down a d through several meadows. I crossed several car parks and met the ranger. He didn’t ask for permit a he was busy with some farmers.

I pushed on and one until I came across a hiker sitting having lunch . he was sat by the shelter sign, but it was .3 so a round trip of .6 too far.
I said I have 30 mins to go before I stop which should correspond to a spring and water.

I pushed on through the forest until I exited into a bare patch then I heard the crackle of electric as standing high above me stood a pylon. I started at the dramatic view before me before moving on.

At the spring I filled up both bottles as the next water was far. It was now 2 pm I had no chance of making it to the next shelter. I then decided to have my lunch I almost devoured my apple, but I wanted to save that for dinner.
okay its 2.30, 12 miles to the next shelter @ 2 miles hour that will be 8 and that’s if the trail is flat. I laughed to myself.
Okay I will walk to 5 PM and then look to camp, happy with this decision I pushed on until I ran me to Peach, Mousetrap and Guinness. They were slack packing so we’re heading south. I don’t agree with slack-packing, so I will say nothing.

Hi guys. I was hoping that I would run into you guys much later in the day.
Snail make sure you have plenty of water. They advised
Yes, I’m full I replied.
What are your plans Guinness asked?
Well I wanted to get to the second shelter. But I started late. it’s almost 3pm now so maybe 14 ish.
Okay Snail see you up the trail

I must admit the trail was very good, occasionally I exited into burning sun but mainly I was hiking in shade.

Once again, I exited onto a road.  on the other side was a viewing area so I wandered over. just over the wall a dozen or so butterflies were busy flitting around. I stood and watched them so several minutes when a large pickup stopped, and a couple got out.

What are you watching? Came a voice
Theses butterflies.  I think they are Monarchs? Are you kiwis I asked.?
Indeed, they were. and in the USA on holiday.
we chatted for a while then another car pulled up.
I also  chatted to this couple, the man  had competed the AT so on cue asked if I needed a cold drink.
I’d love one. he handed me a sprite and a bottle of flavoured water that tasted better than the Sprite. I soon emptied both before giving back the empties.
I thanked them then headed back to the trail, and 2 lots of trail magic today.
I had a grin on my face as I plodded on. The time was getting on, the miles seemed slow today. as I pushed on I noticed that the blueberries are beginning to appear. won’t be long.
5 pm came and went okay I will hike on until 6 pm as  It was still a lovely evening, but I didn’t want to hike late. At last a flat spot. that will do nicely.
I put up my food bag then cooked tea. at 7.40 I got into my tent. I watched many other people come by.
Then it got noisy, I looked out of my tent and there were 3 deer. i filmed them for a few minutes then it was bed
Miles 16.4 walked