Southbound: episode 15
December 21st 2006
Written by: Bryan Wolf and Joe White
The roller coaster wasn’t much to scream about, nor was it long enough to wear us out. We should have been more tired after 23 miles. The next morning, we went into Linden to pick up our maildrop and food. We were so excited to be sleeping less than a mile from the beginning of the Shenadoah National Park . In the morning, we registered for our permit for camping in the park and started strolling down some of the nicest trails we have seen yet. The weather was beautiful and so were the views. The views were better than any since Vermont and Massachusetts . It is nice being above 3000ft again.
After 23 miles, all we wanted was a good nights sleep, but there were a couple of mice that kept us up most of the night. In the morning, we hitched into Luray for mail, resupply, and a bucket of chicken from KFC. We were told that it was illegal to hitch in Virginia , but so far its been the easiest place to get a ride in and out of town. The rest of the day was still filled with great views and nice trails. We stayed the night with a couple out for the weekend. The one guy was in the Navy at Norfolk , and he was planning a thru-hike once he finishes his service. We shared a lot of stories from different adventures we have had as the campfire slowly burnt out.
The following day we hiked 21 miles until we hit rt33, which passes through the park, so we could be picked up by a trail angel named Melanie. Before we made it there, we bumped into a thru-hiker named “super dave” and he was also from Cincinnati . He started in WV and hiked north to Maine , then went to Georgia and was on his way to WV. We were all so excited to meet each other, because we had met his friend in New Hampshire and we were told to look out for him. He actually knew who we were before we introduced ourselves. He should be finishing up his journey in the next couple of days. Congrats Super Dave and we wish you the best.
We finally made it to the road and Melanie picked us up and took us in for the night. We met her in Harpers Ferry at the trail club dinner, its funny how everything falls together. She cooked us dinner, let us shower, and do laundry. She had an awesome music collection. In the morning, she took us to the store to pick up enough food to get us to Waynesboro and then back to the trail. Thanks Melanie.
In the Shenadoah National Park , skyline drives runs parallel to the AT and follows the ridgline all the way, so the mileage is pretty much the same. We had to hike along the road for both that day and the following, about 45 miles. The reason: Around thanksgiving, the southern section of the park was hit with a devastating ice storm leaving the trail and road covered with trees, branches, and tree tops. The AT was closed and was recommended to skip, but we instead walked the closed skyline drive.
The road walk hurt and it seem to go on forever. There were a few good things though. We could listen to our transistor radio while we walked, we still had great overlooks, and we didn’t have to stare at our feet to make sure we weren’t going to trip. Our last shelter in the park had a big rat living there that was rumored to eat holes in backpacks. We hung our food and packs outside the shelter, but we still caught a glimpse of the nasty beast. The last 20 miles out of the park was miserable. We were hurting so bad and we looked funny as we were limping along. We made it though, and we were fortunate to know another trail angel that picked us up and dropped us off at the Quality Inn.
Some of my family came down that night and stayed with us. We ate some Papa John’s pizza while watching our first Bengals game. It was a depressing game though. The next morning 8 of our friends from home dropped in to visit. The rest of my family came down later in the evening. By the end of the night, there was 18 of us, it was like being at home. We spent the day tossing Frisbee and football. They even brought down the corn hole set. That night we all went down to the bowling ally, what a great time. The fun lasted until 3 or 4 in the morning, way past our bedtime.
Yesterday, they all went home after we all went out to lunch together. It was sad to see them go, but it was a reminder of all the great people we can’t wait to get home and see once again. Someone did get left behind though, by choice, her name is Ginger Snap, formerly known as Barbara. She is going to hike with us for a week and a half or so. Last night we just kicked back and relaxed and tried to re-cooperate. Today we are just doing the usual in town resupply and journal update before we hit the trail. We will hike out of town here in a little bit to the first shelter 5 miles away. We hope to be about 135 miles farther in about 8-10 days where we can update you once again. Thank you to all of those that came to visit. Merry Christmas to everyone. We miss and love you all.
This exert was originally published on atwishhikers.com. It’s content has not been edited from the original post.
Epilogue: by: Bryan Wolf
This was a big post, both in time, miles, and events. Like most of our other posts the most interesting moments are not about the physical trail but more about the characters that help shape it. We introduced and met back up with several new characters in this post. The first was Melanie; we first met Melanie back in Harpers Ferry at the Potomac Trail Clubs Christmas Party. She offered us a place to stay down the road and we were happy to make the call. Melanie refueled us for our adventure and I’d like to think that we fueled her adventurous spirit too. After dinner Joe and I helped her start planning an epic trip around the country. Not long after finishing the trail we would meet her again in Cincinnati; a detour on her epic life changing adventure!! I think this is a good time to maybe reconnect again.
Hiking into Waynesboro was hard for me too enjoy. Some things were in our favor, we had an easy road walk due to the trail shattering ice storm and amazing views, however the anticipation of meeting family and friends seemed to draw things out a while. To make matters worse I secretly was feeling the worse I had felt yet. The top of my right foot had a stinging pain with each step. I found my self stopping often trying to readjust my boot to no avail. I think the road walking, although flat, was also rough on my feet and put a lot of stress on them. I hobbled into town and put ice on the slightly swollen foot. I didn’t want to blow it out of proportion and especially worry any of our friends that had traveled so far to see us, but secretly I was concerned that it would not heal.
One car load at a time our friends and family piled in. As you can imagine this was a great few days enjoying every creature comfort you could want and laughing again with those you miss. It meant so much to us that they all came down and I will forever be grateful to each one of them for taking the journey. As all good things do, the time went all too fast, the cornhole boards, cards, Frisbee, beer, and pizza was packed up and drove away making it home hundreds of miles away in the time it takes us to travel less than a half dozen miles. The one who stayed behind, Ginger Snap, was Joe’s friend from Alaska who was going to hike with us a while.
I was excited to have someone else around for a while at this point (but that did not last). When we hiked out I found that my foot had still not healed and the miles were slow. Despite the miles moving slow, I was still way out in front of the two of them and suddenly felt very alone. Ginger snap had a tough go at the first few miles despite being a backpacker (The AT has that affect on people) and we stopped 5 miles in. I took a few “Vitamin I” (Ibuprofen) pills and just wanted to go back asleep. Tundra, or as I called him, “TW” and Ginger played games and I just wrote and slept. The next day I still wasn’t feeling well and it started to become quite concerning, luckily my partners in crime were fine staying in so we did another shelter zero (5 miles from a real town I may add!). My best guess was that it was a stress fracture and I needed to stay off it. At least we packed out some Beef and Cheddars.