Day 55 14.7 Miles
Early morning climb up to Three Ridges, with an elevation gain of 3000 feet in over 3 miles. Left Harpers Creek Shelter around 8. My left calve has been giving me a little bit of trouble recently while climbing but toward the end of the day it kind of stretches itself out and doesn’t hurt so bad. Three Ridges Mountain is the last major 4000er climb until New Hampshire I believe (I perused the guidebook last night quickly so I could be wrong), so that feels awesome. Got down the mountain and had lunch at Maupin Field Shelter where everyone from the previous night shelter joined me. Out of there people were talking about going to the Devils Backbone Brewery just done the road off of Reeds Gap but I wasn’t feeling up for it at the time. Instead, right at Three Ridges Overlook off the Blue Ridge Parkway someone left some beer for free for thru hikers. Blue Whale, Stay Puff, and Splat joined in and we all said cheers and downed the beer at a picnic table at the pulloff. Some Park Service maintenance employees came by to collect some trash and asked about our hike and whatnot and if the beer was cold.
After enjoying the drink, Stay Puff, Blue Whale, Splat and I took off for our campsite, another 8 or so miles down the trail. Eventually we got broken up and I was left with Stay Puff behind me and we so I asked him what he did before the trail and the usual get to know you questions. Shockingly, he said he works for an IT department for a school district back in MA. Would not have guessed that in a million years. Pretty cool that the school district is letting him hike and he has the potential to get his job back when he returns. One thing the trail is teaching me is that you have to leave all of your assumptions about anyone at the door and let them speak before you make any judgments about the person. It’s so easy as defensive human beings to make wrong, flat out stupid assumptions about anyone and then it robs you off any type of friendship whatsoever.
Arrived in camp and waited out a thunderstorm before calling it a night with a little bit of rain. Will be in Waynesboro tomorrow and my mom will be waiting for me to hike the Shenandoah.
Day 54 14.2 Miles
Hiked with Blue Whale for the majority of the day. In the morning scrambled up to Spy Rock for the vista looking south and west. Got to learn more about Blue Whales Amish culture was really interesting. Funny just as we descending down from Spy Rock an Amish group of boys were climbing up the mountain heading south. Blue Whale spoke a bit of Pennsylvanian Dutch with them. Had lunch at the Priest Shelter where I wrote down one of my confessions in the logbook (all I’m going to say is my friend Luke Dowbiggin only knows about this one). It was really comical reading other thru hikers confessions on the trail. We all passed the logbook around and read them out loud. I filled my water bottle and then made a very long descent down onto VA 56 where Pat from the other day offered us fresh honeydew. We left the parking lot after a short rest then ascended into Harpers Creek Shelter for the night. Got a bit wet as we got there and did not even put a rain jacket on the whole time. It felt refreshing after the last couple days of really hot and humid weather. Ate a ramen, pasta side, payday mix and socialized with a few familiar faces from previous nights. I keep running into the same people at nights now which has been a good change in pace.
Day 53 16.4 Miles
Blue Whale and Mechanic left earlier than me this morning. Blue Whale had to pick up a package in Buena Vista. As I was leaving I met Pat who has been yo yoing from Florida. I’ve seen him multiple times on the trail and I always refer to him as the older guy wearing a kilt. This time I got a chance to ask him why he was out here and it turned into a longer, but good session. To sum it up he was married for 33 years, worked with foster kids, and his wife left him a couple years ago. I asked him why and he said he didn’t really spend much time with her and was always “busy”. He gave me some relationship advice and said make sure both individuals in a relationship are equal and don’t put each other on a pedestal. Pretty good advice. I’ll probably run into him again.
Climbed Bald Knob and rested for a bit at a beautiful westerly view to make a few phone calls to my girlfriend and mom. My Mom will be joining me this Friday to hike parts of the Shenendoahs, so we were trying to figure logistics. As soon as I left the vista I came across a Momma deer and her fawn. The momma was licking the fawn on the ears and back. It was probably one of the cutest things I’ve seen. Yeah I’m a man and said cute. Collected spring water 0.3 down the trail and made lunch right at the spring consisting of a tuna wrap and snickers and honey buns (sorry Jimmy I don’t have a pic of my food yet lol). From lunch I crossed a few gaps and made it into Seeley-Woodworth Shelter just as thunder echoed in the hollows. Met Flowers and Rogen who just came from Lexington watching some NBA finals game or something. Nice pipe at the shelter for water. Made some Mac and cheese and for dinner over campfire, hung the bear bag, and hung out around the campfire for a bit. Good day overall. Instead pushing to Waynesboro in two days and doing 20 Miles I’m going to do two days of 15 then 10 miles into Waynesboro.
Day 52 20 Miles
Started the day with two slices of cold pizza and then left the free Hostel in town around 8. Walked the road behind another thru hiker, put my thumb out only once and got a ride the mountain. First thumb worked, what luck. The gentleman that picked us up was from Charlottesville and works as Dean of Admissions at an all girls college down the road. He says he tries to pick up hikers once a week on the way to work. Thanks so much Nelson for picking us both up and dropping us off right at the start of the trail.
Walked only a 0.1 and ran into Pappaw again. His wife is coming out to the trail and he is looking forward to the meeting. The ascent up to Bluff Mountain was kind of strenuous and I had to stop a couple times to get my breath from the hot temperatures. Plus I had a full pack since resupply day was yesterday. For lunch I went into Punchbowl Shelter where I caught back up with Mechanic and met two other new hikers. They said they got some trail magic yesterday and were hoping to get some today. Leapfrogged into Mechanic a couple times after lunch and then on the last couple miles we hiked together into Brown Mountain Creek Shelter. Longest two miles I think I’ve hiked, sign couldn’t be right. On the way saw a huge Black Rat Snake before approaching Shelter.
Before pulling in the last few feet ran into a Blue Whale again. Tried to make strawberry muffins tonight using two methods. The first time my plastic bag melted and the second one blackened Mechanic pot. I gave up on the muffins but next time the two pot method should work, if I can only find another pot to fit into mine. It was fun to fail actually and I learned what not to do. Overall I was only going to pull a half day but instead ended up completing 20 Miles and feel over accomplished and body feels it too. Tomorrow I’m going to back the mileage down to 15 and see how it goes.
Crossed the 800 mile mark today as well!!
Day 51 19.9 Miles
All that I was thinking about for most of the day was reaching the James River footbridge before 4 where I had a shuttle waiting for me. I crossed over Apple Orchard Mountain where there was some FAA tower kind of like up on Snowbird but it was a different alien design this time. Saw a rattlesnake and a green snake today which was kind cool. It was a very hot day, temperatures reached to the low 90s but I still cranked out 19 miles to reach the shelter. Got down into Glasgow around 430, traveled over to Scottos Pasta and Sub and chowed down on a medium meat lovers pizza. Headed over to Dollar General to resupply and then Grocery Express to fill up on my alcohol for my stove. I’m tired today, the heat zapped the energy out of me, I’m thinking about zeroing tomorrow but I probably won’t. We will see.
Day 50 18.4 Miles
Started the day around 9. Was moving kind of slow. Passed by a few interesting overlook areas on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Got to Cove Mountain Shelter for a quick snack and met a new thru hiker named Fireproof but is now Joe. Kind of comical guy. Got my answer to question on how butterfly reproduce from a larvae to and adult. Had lunch at Jennings Creek with Mechanic and later found they were doing Trail Magic across the creek at the end of the day. Bummer on that one. The climbing began after lunch and did not really stop until Cornelius Creek Shelter. Dug in deep to make it to my destination before dark. Got to see a really sweet shelter at Bryant’s Ridge along the way that fits 20 people or so and is probably in my top 10 of shelters thus far. Wish I could have stayed there.
The climb got a bit steeper up to Floyd Mountain and then to Cornelius. Caught back up with Lil Dipper and Ferrari who were heading a couple more miles down the trail to camp for the night. Blue Whale was there as well as Mechanic. Put down some new Ramen spicy soup with vegetable mix with jerky and then threw my bear bag for the first time in a while. Just as I was eating dinner a NPS Backcountry Ranger came around the corner and asked us if we had any questions about the area or any problems. He had a couple tasers on him and pocket video camera to record any events that transpired if things got rowdy. That’s the first time seeing that one. Maybe he’s looking for someone.
Got a long 19 mile day tomorrow into Glasgow to resupply then push to Waynesboro for Shenandoah NP. Hopefully I can get a hitch or a ride into town.
Day 49 18.5 Miles
It was really hard to wake up from that cozy bed at the Quirin’s house but I mustered the courage. Breakfast was served thereafter consisting of blueberry pancakes and scrambled eggs. Mmmm. Tried to dry my clothes off as best as I could in front of their house before leaving. Danny left a bit earlier to go to a funeral and then I left shortly after to Kroger for resupply. It was hard to leave and I could have stayed another day. I was feeling a bit tired. But I still cranked out 18 miles after resupplying and hitting the trail after 11. The trail was quite easy and beautiful transecting the Blue Ridge Parkway at a couple overlooks and down into Bobblets Gap Shelter. Saw my first black bear today right after crossing 220, 0.5 miles from the road. It was a coincidence because just as I was leaving Outdoor Trails for alcohol I met a thru hiker named Black Bear. Think tomorrow I will be crossing the BRP at some more locales. Finished off the rest of my burgers and brownies and a pasta side for dinner, caught back up with Blue Whale and called it a night. Was hoping to do some moonlight hiking since it is a full night, but I really don’t want to push over 20 miles to next Campsite. Had to stay in the shelter tonight since there were no real level spots around the shelter or even good spots to hang a hammock. But hey I’ve got my sleeping bag now so I’ll sleep a lot better. Thank you again to the Quirins for hosting me last night, it was something I really needed both mentally and physically. Hope to see you all again at some point in my life.
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Day 48 15.3
Enjoyed the early morning views of Tinker Cliffs and got a chance to look back at McAfee Knob. Ferrari and Lil Dipper caught up with me and we ended up hiking the rest of the day into Daleville. All I was thinking about getting into town was food. After 8 miles I finally made it to VA 220 where I walked down to Outdoor Trails to pick up my summer sleeping bag and grabbed some coffee nearby. Then something awesome happened. At the end of the day yesterday I got a FB message from Derek Quirin who is the dad of Ellie the Baby on the AT telling me that his parents would love to host me at their house for the night. Seriously!? I haven’t slept in a real bed in 47 days and they were going to feed me even! I called Danny, dad of Derek to arrange a pickup at Outdoor Trails and went back home with them. Really nice people all around. I got my laundry done, dried some clothes, sprayed my clothes with premertherin and chowed down on some burgers and salmon. Somehow mysteriously they knew I loved salmon and I lived in Alaska for a bit of my life. The conversation at the dinner table involved the topics of where I was from, the question of fracking, and the Quirin family. Derek, Ellie, and Bekah I learned are up in Maine making their way south to home currently. I got to see pictures of Maine and I also got a chance to show some pictures of my travels on my website. It was a very good night and am thankful for good people like this in the world. Thanks for hosting me and the wonderful hospitality.