I had to stick around in Daleville late into the morning until the outfitter opened at 10 so I could grab some packages. As soon as I could, I hit the trail because I knew Jean Genie and Duffle Miner were doing slack days waiting for me to catch up. I finished up lunch at a shelter just as thunder began rolling in over the mountains but I decided to make a run for it anyway. I made it about 2.5 miles in the thunder before the rain even started but for the first time on the trail the rain was a refreshing experience. The heat and humidity had been pretty brutal over the last few days.
That night when I rolled into camp I met Mooch, remember that name and we will come back to it. The next morning I finally came across Jean Genie and Duffle Miner after chasing them for about 70 miles. It was a grand reunion and I was so happy to see them. That day we stopped at a swimming hole and had a nice mid day respite from the heat.
The next couple of days were fairly uninteresting until the day we went to Big Island, Va. This was an unplanned town stop for me. I was fine on food but was mostly unwilling to separate used for Genie and Duffle so soon. On the AT, there is a long foot bridge just before the road that leads to Big Island. Mooch and I came across it just as Duffle Miner was jumping off with a bunch of locals. It was terrifying to watch and pretty scary to do from the story Duffle tells. A couple of local guys said they would give us a ride into town on their way back to their own town 40 minutes down the road and Mooch, Duffle and I gladly took him up on it. The listened to great music and even gave us some Gatorade. We had them drop us at the H & H Mart, which is really just a run down BP station. Just as they pulled back onto the road I realized I had left a small stuff sack in their car that had my wallet in it... Down the road, gone forever. Stranded in a town with nothing more than a BP station with no money and no ID! Thankfully, I still had my phone on me so I called my mom for the proper verbal berating followed by whatever encouragement she could offer from so far away. I asked her to cancel any cards she could, made plans to have an old ID sent up and tried to reassure myself that they would send it home to Georgia when they found it. Then I went into the pitiful gas station to try to find something worthy of being called hiker food. As I was moping around, picking up granola bars and hating myself for the dumb mistake, Duffle Miner came running in holding up my little pink stuff sack containing my entire life! They had brought it back! Some how they had spied a small little satchel, impossible I was thinking, and even turned around to bring it back to me! I tried to run out to the parking lot to express my inexplicable gratitude and happiness but it was the same scene I watched as they had left before, just the tail lights of the car and me in the parking lot, unable to reach them. I don't know of they will ever understand the importance of them seeing and bringing the stuff sack back to me, but it was life changing to me at the moment.
At this point in time we still hadn't seen Genie yet and knew we needed to get back on the trail to stay in this nothing town. We caught a hitch in a pickup going 90 miles an hour over the tight mountain roads but the thunder began rolling over our heads as we ran the two miles to the shelter and we were glad we had such a speed demon driver. We made it into the shelter just before a terrible storm hit.
The next day Genie caught up and he had still not resupplied, and one by one Duffle Miner, Mooch and I decided we would go into Buena Vista with him the next morning. After a torrential thunderstorm that night in which we all got soaked despite being in tents or hammocks, we walked the two miles to the road to Buena Vista. We got a lucky ride in to town from a guy in a truck who just happened to be at the trail head. After breakfast, we made a short time of resupplying and got out of town by mid afternoon. Somewhere between the ride out of town and the first shelter I lost the guys. A some point in the night Mooch passed me and I found him the next morning but I didn't see Duffle or Genie for about two days, which seems like such a long time on the trail.
But the two of them failed into Waynesboro just behind Mooch and I on Memorial Day. We hit up the all you can eat Chinese buffet with a bunch of other hikers, a spectacular establishment whether hiker or not, surprisingly. Then we hit the coin laundry, which thankfully had a box of abandoned clothes that translates into temporary laundry wardrobe in hiker talk. We shamelessly striped down and changed into stranger's clothes to wait for our laundry to wash. It finished just in time to go claim a spot at the Lutheran Hiker Hostel across town.
Way back in February I was up in Portland, Maine visiting Jeremy during a Disney on Ice tour and met the cousin of a co-worker of his who was also visiting. This cousin just so happened to be the daughter or the couple who runs this particular hostel. I had a good time talking with them and relaying the strange story of how I had come upon their place. They were such a loving family. It was great to have the feeling that I had friends along the trail waiting for me to show up. And interestingly, if I hadn't of had my two weeks at Woods Hole I would have been in town before they had opened up for the season.
But today Genie and Duffle and a really cool girl (one f few ice really hit it off with) set out to aqua blaze part of the Shennandoah National Park. This means they are camping down the Shennandoah River instead of hiking the trail. Right now I am a bit jealous because they are on a river with lots of beer and wine and awesome food and no packs on their backs. But tonight Jeremy and a co-worker of his I have met on several occasions are arriving in Wayneboro to hike part of the Shennandoahs with me starting tomorrow! I may be doing some lesser miles, which is nothing but good for me, but I am super excited to have them come along!
In other news, even though I miss Movie Star a lot, we have done very good at keeping up with each other from a few hundred miles apart. Today we talked on the phone for almost an hour, which was special because we never seem to be in towns on the same day. It is fun to to each other the news of what's going on with the hikers around we both know. I am also benefiting from the fact that he is telling me all the things he thinks I need to know about the trail ahead of me, which is also fun because I know him well enough to know what's worth listening to and what's not!
I am feeling great the trail. Starting out again was rough but now I am having a fantastic time! I hope to catch Duffle, Genie and Nova somewhere down the line after Jeremy and Cameron head home. As for Mooch, it seems he has relieved me of my duties... Here's more on Mooch, as I said would happen.
I had actually met him at the hostel while I was working there and had noticed his odd ways and then he was there again. He's and interesting kid on many levels and had just come back from Trail Days in Damascus, otherwise I would have never caught him just outside of Daleville. He hiked about 10 inches behind my pack for the past week and a half or so, yapping in my ear about every possible topic imaginable. He has lead a very interesting and story worthy life but as many of my long term hiking partners know, I easily grow tired of talking while hiking and prefer to hike alone and then take breaks or eat lunch and camp with others. I can tell he is usually a ladies man on the trail and finds my lack of interest frustrating. I think it has even taken a turn on him psychologically, as he recently had a wine induced confession of his love/hate feelings for me. On the trail, when a guy follows a girl's plan instead of doing his own miles or slows down or speeds up to catch a girl, it is called "pink blazing". I for one think it doesn't really apply if the girl is friends with or wants he guy around, but when you're as good as strangers, its pink blazing. He seems to be to gone for now, which as harmless as he was still makes me feel better. If he pops back up, maybe the presence of Jeremy and Cameron will help deter him. He's sweet enough, but there is only so much I can handle.