Monday, August 17, 2015

Day 65: Into the Shenandoahs!

May 11: I woke up early, packed my bags and walked the half mile from the motel back to the Appalachian Trail. I had gotten off at Rockfish Gap, which marks the end of the Blue Ridge Parkway and the beginning of Skyline Drive through the Shenandoah Mountains.

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I filled out a backpacker permit at the entrance station for thru-hikers, but I suspected I wouldn’t really use it for anything since Amanda was flying out to visit. She’d pick me up off the trail and slackpack me through most of the Shanandoahs, but I filled out the permit anyhow just in case I didn’t get out of the park before she left. I’d need it then! And anyhow, I was still hiking with my full pack even though I didn’t intend to spend the night on the trail. I might have a hard time convincing a ranger that I wasn’t really planning to camp on the trail tonight when I had a full-sized pack on my back. I could just wave the permit around and say I’m thru-hiking. It’s true, after all!

I didn’t see many people on the trail. The whole day, I counted one southbound thru-hiker, one northbound thru-hiker, a two section hikers, and five day hikers. And two dogs. Which is pretty remarkable for Shenandoah National Park being such a famous and well-visited park!

The weather was once again hot and muggy and the trail had a relatively long 13-mile stretch with no water. It wasn’t an issue for me—I made sure to carry plenty of water to get me through the section—but it was bad water that heated up to the ambient air temperature which made the water warm and gross. I had water, but I had no way to keep it cool and refreshing!

Late in the day, I arrived at Blackrock Gap—the agreed meeting place I had set up with Amanda in advance, but she was nowhere to be seen. She must not have arrived yet, and I wondered if I should continue on to the next road crossing, but if I called her, would she get the message or wind up waiting for me at this road crossing even though I had already passed? I called her and was talking to her as she pulled up to the gap with cold drinks, watermelon and other goodies. Lovely!

Amanda drove us back towards Waynesboro for the night where we found a hotel and ate dinner at Five Guys.

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Time to fill out a permit for Shenandoah National Park! It’ll be only the second permit I’ve needed for the entire trail! (The first was in the Smoky Mountains National Park.)

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The trail crosses Skyline Road something like 28 times in about 100 miles! It’s kind of annoying, really, although it makes slackpacking with Amanda a lot easier with a lot of options for trail magic and meetups.

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I might be hiking through a national park, but it’s definitely no wilderness!

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This tree struck me as a little… obscene… There are kids hiking this trail!

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This is where Amanda met me and swiped me off the trail! =)

1 comment:

George Boscoe said...

did you find anything interesting at Bee Gal gap....... Maggie and I had a wonderful time driving the Shenandoah natl park just after you passed through. Amanda made our trip much more interesting too

george