Today our second half day of hiking. We had asked Alex to pick us up at 11:30 from the hotel to go to brunch on the way back to the trail but still hit the hotel continental breakfast. Mio and I spilt a waffle, and I grabbed an orange for my pack.
Back at the room, we all busied ourselves with organizing our packs and watching a Sex In The City marathon. I was ready early, so I went and found a couple of Geocaches. The hotel sits near a famous Civil War site, so the caches were based at locations used during the war. They were both fake rocks normally used as key hiders.
I returned to the room, and we finished packing until Alex showed up at 11:30. (Mio had asked for a 30 minute extension to the room checkout time.) We loaded our packs into the car and headed to Weasie’s Kitchen for brunch. Most of us had omelets. The service wasn’t very good, but the company, conversation, and atmosphere was great. Alex graciously paid for our meals!
After brunch, Alex kindly took us back to the trail via the outfitter store where I got a fresh bottle of gas for the stove. While others were shopping, I grabbed my third Geocache outside the store and added the fish travel bug that I had picked up on Cold Mountain, since the cache was near a busy road and a river. Mio and Alex came out of the store, and I walked Mio through finding and logging a Geocache. Alex was already familiar with the hobby.
We loaded up and headed up to the same place that Alex had picked us up the day before. The weather was also the same — low misty clouds and a thick fog. Visibility was down to about 100 feet. We unloaded and all thanked Alex for everything that he had done for us during the last 24 hours. After he drove off, we walked across the highway bridges for US 250 and I-64.
As we walked up Skyline Parkway for the first time, we passed a large group of bicyclists gathering at a pull off to take a break with chairs and food. They had been stopped by the Shenandoah National Park Rangers from riding in the thick fog on the Skyline without helmet lights.
As we passed them, some asked what it was that we were doing. After we explained that we had hiked 858 miles from Georgia to this point in front of them, they all wanted to hear the story and reason. Some of them took our picture, one of which was for one of their sons, to show him what Tandem and I were doing together for six months.
They offered us food, but we declined. I received one of the pictures taken of us and when I have signal again I’ll reply with our blog address to share with all of them. We hiked on, glad to be back on the trail after a great nero stay in Waynesboro.
It stayed foggy and damp for the rest of the day as we hiked 8.5 miles into the southern end of the Shenandoah National Park. We had to fill out SNP permits to be hiking the AT through it. Unlike the Smokies, the permits cost nothing, but fines exist for not having one if a Ranger checks.
We hiked over Little Calf and Calf mountains and past the Calf Mountain hut. We arrived at a spring that already had thru hikers camping near it, so we filled up our water and hiked on, intending to find a random campsite.
The weather started to improve as we hiked up Turk Mountain. Near the top and the Turk Mountain Trail intersection, we found a campsite. After setting up and eating dinner, we had problems putting up our bear bag ropes in the dark. It became entertaining for all three of us. That wore me out, so I took my damp body to my dry tent and quickly fell asleep around 21:30.
Thanks again to Alex and sorry we didn’t get pictures. DOH!
I woke at 6:45 after hearing Mio packing up. I packed and ate, and Tandem followed soon after. Mio left first; Tandem and I followed 15 minutes later at 7:30. We made great time today and hiked up a few hard hills, covering 18 miles in seven hours. I made a sightseeing stop at Blackrock Mountain, which required a rock scramble. Overall, we took only a few breaks for snacks and water.
We reached the Loft Mountain Wayside restaurant in time for a late lunch at 14:30. Tandem and I had cheeseburgers and fries while we charged our phones. I ordered a double scoop ice cream cone, and Tandem took a nap on a picnic table bench on the sunny warm deck. We left at 17:00 having decided that going four more miles to the Pinefield Hut was the best option.
We ripped through the four miles in 1.5 hours and were set up in the tenting area by 18:30. It had been a 22 mile day. We had dinner and retired to our sleeping quarters by 20:30 to write blogs and read.
Tomorrow may be another late afternoon meal on the trail at a diner, but Tandem and I need to eat our own food and save money. A Coke may be a good addition, though! It is 20.6 miles to the second hut away from here, so that will be the second 20+ mile day. We pass mile 900 near the first hut tomorrow morning!