Day 75: We slept in this morning at the hiker hostel. Upon waking, I took a shower, then got breakfast and coffee. Then I visited the ER for my feet. They told me it was simply overuse and to keep taking the Vitamin I. We got lunch and ended up talking with some “townies” there. An older couple offered to give us a ride back to the trail and we took it! We had an easy 9 miles to the shelter and saw one view. We met a super nice PATC Ridge Runner at the shelter and enjoyed a campfire with others before bed.
Day 76: We finally broke 20 miles today! The terrain was great as we finally found a flat stretch in Virginia. (There is a rumor that VA is flat… it is NOT!) We hiked the end of the day with J-Rex. It was very hot and when we found shade we joked that we were in air conditioning. We summited one mountain that had a huge rock pile that we scrambled up for almost 360 degree views. While there, we ran into a geology intern that us about how the mountains formed. On our way to the Loft Mountain Campground, where we are staying tonight, we saw two bear cubs with their mother! When we arrived to the camp store, we immediately got ice cream and soda. We shared the campsite with two other hikers. After setting up our tents and having dinner, we headed down to the camp store to shower. Along the way, we saw a hare sniffing a turtle. The hare was all nervous about it… too funny! Very tired after my first 20 miler and I can hear a thunderstorm moving in. We watched it earlier as you could see lightning in the huge thunderhead. The Shenandoahs have already proven themselves to be much more friendly than the Smokies.
Day 77: A short 14 miles today and I’m glad, because it was so hot out! We slept in while waiting for the camp store to open so we could resupply. I also had ice cream and soda for second breakfast! J-Rex hiked all day with us and it was nice to have her along. A couple of views today, but mostly just hot. We got into camp around 5PM, set up and had dinner. Now reading until bed!
Day 78: We woke to a nice breezy day! 19 miles turned out to be pretty nice. The terrain got easier as the day went on and we got a couple nice outlooks. Hiked with J-Rex again… she is so nice! Saw another yearling bear and tons of deer. We hiked to the Big Meadows Campground and stopped into the camp store to resupply. While we were shopping, another hiker came over to ask us to help her eat a blackberry ice cream cake. The thing was huge, so we obliged! It was so tasty. We decided to eat dinner there and Cozy joined us halfway through. She ended up paying for our campsite and giving us laundry detergent! Trail magic from fellow hikers is just awesome. After dinner, we got a tent site and set up our tents. Then we showered and washed laundry. A quick rain shower came through before bed.
Day 79: Today was a long but great day! We ate breakfast at the Wayside with lots of coffee. We started hiking around 9AM and the weather was nice. We hiked steadily until we got to the Skyland Resort and Restaurant. We decided to eat lunch there! I had salad, chicken pot pie and fruit. It was all very delicious. After lunch it started to pour as a severe thunderstorm was coming through. We checked Navigator’s phone and the rain was supposed to pass within an hour, so we decided to wait it out. I ended up napping on the couch in the lobby. We hike don afterwards and got some beautiful views at Stony Man Mountain and more further up the trail. We got rained on a little before reaching the shelter, but nothing serious. Sleeping in the shelter tonight to keep everything dry.
Day 80: Today was a ‘meh’ day. We got a nice view in the morning from Mary’s Rock. The clouds rolled in as we were checking it out. Afterwards was straight hiking. I put my music in to get through it. We saw a young buck in the trail. It didn’t run away from us! All the animals in the park are too tame. Later on, we got second lunch and a blackberry milkshake at the Wayside. Then we had a short hike into camp. My muscles are feeling tight today. I need to chug water and stretch out!
Day 81: We hiked 13 miles today and left Shenandoah National Park (we’ve started calling it Blackberry National Park after J-Rex noticed the blackberries were the park’s best feature). We got trail magic as we got to Route 255 near Front Royal, VA. We went just a quarter-mile from there to the Mountain Home B&B, which is a renovated historical home from the Civil War era. (They run the B&B like a hostel but can’t call it a hostel due to town ordinances.) There was an extremely nice couple running the place and they were very accommodating. They drove us to town to resupply and we ate dinner at the Tavern Mill Restaurant. The food there was absolutely yummy!
Day 82: Woke up at the Mountain Home after a wonderful nights sleep in a real bed! They cooked us a wonderful breakfast and we had great conversation. We didn’t end up leaving until around 10AM. The trail was mild and we stopped for lunch at a shelter with a deck and chairs with backs! We got trail magic about 2 miles before the shelter and decided to pack in a beer! We only did about 10 miles to the shelter we are staying at. Drying out our stuff and enjoying the early day.
Day 83: 16.2 miles today. The day started out easy and we cruised through the miles. There wasn’t much to see so we joked with each other to pass the time. J-Rex is still with us and we’ve been having a blast! Sky Meadows State Park was pretty and we got to sit on a bench. In the afternoon we started a section of the trail known as “the roller coaster”. It is 13 miles so steep ascents/descents. We got two out-of-the-way this evening. More to come tomorrow. In camp early again! More reading to be had tonight. Staying in a slanted tent site, but we’ve slept on worse.
Day 84: Today we finished the roller coaster and it was pretty brutal. It was a hot day and we were not rewarded with good views. We stopped in at the Bear’s Den Hostel before lunch to grab a soda and refill water. The place was gorgeous, as it is an old castle. We hiked on until we finally made it past the roller coaster. Having planned on staying at a further shelter, we decided to stop at the Blackburn AT Center for the night. The caretakers ended up cooking us a spaghetti dinner with salad and bread! We slept on some cots on a screened in porch. What a wonderful surprise to a tiring day! We also hit the 1000 mile marker today! Here’s to 1000 more.
Day 85: We finally made it out of Virginia! We hiked 12.5 miles into Harper’s Ferry, WV today. There were no views and at times the terrain got rocky. We are very excited to be in West Virginia. When we got to town, we went to the ATC Visitor’s Center and got our pictures taken! This is the emotional halfway point (as the official changes every year). I am hiker #808! Afterwards, we checked into the Teahorse Hostel and went to get a late lunch. Looking forward to our zero tomorrow!
Day 86: Zero Day :)