So the last you heard, I was seeing off Duffle Miner and Jean Genie as the went off on their aqua lazing adventure and waiting for Jeremy and Cameron to arrive. When they got in that night we hit the one bar in town for dinner and set out the next morning after resupplying. They had come in one car and Jeremy and I had previously mentioned that we would just hope for the best in finding them a ride back to their car in Waynesboro. The last stop we made in town was at the outfitter and just as we were finishing up arranging our packs, good old Yellow Truck pulled up and asked if we needed a ride. Waynesboro has an excellent system of trail angels to help out hikers and I had seen Yellow Truck giving several of my fringes rides throughout town. We told him we were alright for the moment but took his number so the guys could get back to their car after the hike. It was a good feeling to have it sorted it before we even started.
So we hit the trail on a hot yet windy day and only after the first two water sources failed to exist did I remember a warning Movie Star had given me when we talked on the phone just the day before. He had had such a hard time finding water that he had to flag down a ranger and finally got a bottle of Gatorade to last until the shelter. The Shenandoahs were already shaping up to be less than I expected.
We made it to the shelter, a bit parched but fine overall. Already I was impressed with Cameron's hiking. This was his first time backpacking and he just seemed to be made to move over the mountains. He was patiently waiting for Jeremy and I at the shelter when we got there and if I had to give him a trail name it would be Waiting, which he was doing a lot of. As for Jeremy, he thru hiked in 2010 and his trail name is Man Dog.
Our next day was much of the same dead heat and I began to feel scared about the idea of the really brutal heat I knew laid ahead of me in the mid atlantic states. Scarce water is also a fear of mine since I drink enough to pee twelve times a day.
On our third day out we finally hit one of the major perks of the Shenandoah National Park, a wayside. The waysides are all located right off of Skyline Drive, which is the back bone on the Park. They are all park of a campground and several have a camp store included. Hikers love them because it means real food! Burgers, fries and shakes! Tourist like it because there is no McDonalds this far out so it will have to suffice. After eating lunch at the wayside we slept out under the trees until the hottest part of the day was gone, then proceeded on the to shelter. The next day we hiked to where the trail met up with the road of Elkton, Va. This is where Yellow Truck came to pick up the guys.
I was on my own again as I set out to the next shelter out. It was absolutely fantastic having Jeremy and Cameron out to hike. I love having a tight knit group who is more determined to stay with each other than to make good mileage and this was small taste of that once again. It reminded me of how important people are to me on the trail and I began to really feel the void of camaraderie in my hike again. I had only been able to stick with Duffle and Genie for a few days before I lost them again and have still seen no sign of them. Mooch was a poor excuse for a comrade, though I had not seen him since Waynesboro, but I knew I couldn't count him or any other pink blazer as a trust worthy friend. I miss the old group again.
Thankfully I have found Captain Planet during the last few days. He is one of few people around me that I get along with in that seamless, completely non superficial way. Sometimes it's just all polite hiker formalities in the shelters but I have found a friend in him. He showed up at the shelter after me the day I left Jeremy and Cameron as realized how alone I was and I was very grateful to see him.
We ended up hiking at the same pace all the way to Luray, Va, where I am currently waiting on laundry to dry. We woke up this morning and hiked the 3 miles down to the road and got picked up by a French academic who translates books on the side. He is currently working on some of Thomas Jefferson's work that has never been translated to French so he wanted to see some of the area where Jefferson lived while in the states for work related purposes.
There are only a few days left of the Shennies for me and that makes me happy. They are easy terrain and nice enough but I am ready to get back to normal AT life. Summer time in the Shennandoahs is tourist galore. I have realized how different from "normal" people I have become. I came across a section hiker on the trail one day who had an interesting story about me. That morning, after trying to convince a bear to move far enough out of the way to allow me to pass, I went to a wayside restaurant up a gravel road and right off of Skyline Drive. I ordered a sausage, egg and cheese biscuit to go because I smelled too bad to be around weekenders and was trying to beat a storm. I walked around the side of the building and sat on a stoop to eat. I was facing the parking lot but didn't see around around as I ripped into the breakfast sandwich. But I was being watched, with what must have been the sort of intensity one watches a lioness take down a gazelle on television, as I wolfed down the biscuit. The section hiker, who remembered me well enough to recognize me 10 miles down the trail, told me this story when we crossed paths later in the afternoon. This amused me and made me see the disparity between he and I. Sometimes difference is a bit more obvious, like when and elderly couple asks to take your picture at an overlook next to a sign that explains a bit about the trail. Between battling bears and snakes that won't budge on my lonesome and the strange normal people I keep encountering, the park has been a surreal experience overall.
Harpers Ferry is only a few days away and both my brother and mom will be there to greet me! It is the psychological halfway point and a big change in my hike will be happening there, but that will be saved for the next post!!