Day 60. With family in town, and a really fun resort to take advantage of, It was a nice relaxing Nero Day today. After sleeping in late, we went to the resort’s aquatic center to play in the indoor pool and soak in the outdoor hot tub. It was bliss. Especially because it got darn cold last night. The family all agreed, camping in last night’s 30 degree weather would have been absolutely miserable. But a hot tub in cold weather … is there anything better?
After a couple hours we had lunch and then packed up to go our separate ways. They had to get back to Maryland and I have to get back to the mountains. I was very fortunate to have family company all weekend and it was wonderful to be able to share a bit of this experience with them. We discussed the next few weeks and decided to meet up again next weekend in Shenandoah National Park around the Big Meadows Campground area. Depending on my speed, I’m expecting to get there on Thursday night and hopefully we can have a day hike together on Friday or Saturday.
Side note, my sister was able to pick up a couple gear items for me in Lexington, so I finally have new insoles for my boots. The Dr. Scholl’s I bought in Franklin 600 miles ago were long worn out, so this time I went with the more durable/expensive Superfeet. They make a world of difference already and today’s short 10 mile hike was a significant upgrade to my feet.
I also picked up a new water bottle with built in filter called the Katadyn BeFree. It basically does the same thing as a Sawyer Squeeze, but the filter is inside the soft collapsible bottle. They have been popular out here lately so I’ve seen them around, and yesterday broke my spirit on the Aqua Mira drops I normally use. I was very dehydrated, I finally reached a creek after 8 miles without water … and having to wait 20 minutes for the treatment solution to purify my bottle was torture. It was so nice to just scoop up water and start drinking today. I still like Aqua Mira in general for its simplicity and weight … but this is so much easier!
Speaking of upgrades, I have a bunch of gear changes coming when I get to Harpers Ferry. I’ll provide a longer blog post with a mid-hike gear review at that time: what worked, what didn’t, what will go the distance, what was replaced, etc. Stay tuned for that soon.
As for today’s hike, it was a nice Nero Day that started around noon and ended less than 10 miles later. However, it was basically straight up for 6 miles on more of that strenuous and frustrating rocky terrain I hate. During one of my screaming fits of frustration at the trail, I stopped to take a photo as well. You can see above why days like this are less than appealing and slow me down considerably. Can you even tell where the trail starts and stops? Now I fully understand why people say this trail is the hardest of the US long distance triple crown trails (AT, PCT, CDT). It’s not the constant ups and downs, it’s the rocks! And again, this is supposedly nothing compared to what’s coming in Pennsylvania.
Even with the trail doing it’s best to cripple me, I showed up at Maupin Field Shelter pretty early in the evening. When I walked up, I was pleased to see Spice, a friend I briefly saw yesterday, was already setup for the night. You may recall Spice from a couple weeks ago, as she lives in Minnesota and I was ecstatic to meet someone else whom with I could talk about home. She has an awesome attitude and fun personality so I set up camp nearby and we enjoyed a campfire together. An older gentlemen from Australia was also here (and technically, he made the fire), so we all shmoozed while
cooking rehydrating our dinners. Before long, Whitewater, the young girl I sheltered with 2 days ago, walked up also. Spice and Whitewater camped together yesterday so we’re also friends by now. Then another hiker showed up, then another … before long it was a full-blown hiker party! I haven’t had this many camp-mates in weeks.
Tomorrow will be a hopefully breezy 21 miles into Waybesboro. The elevation change is minimal, but I’m sure there are more rocks to cuss out. I have a box waiting for me at Stanimals 328 Hostel so will get a warm bed again tomorrow. For those keeping track, that makes 3 out of the past 4 nights on a real mattress. After Waynesboro, I enter Shenandoah National Park. Since most of my Smoky Mountain section was ruined by snow and cold, I am excited for the amazing weather forecast expected during the net week in SNP. It’s supposedly going to get in the high 80s by midweek, and this is another highly anticipated section of the AT to hike. Woot!
Hello Neiman (Sharkbait!)
- Start Mile: 833.2
- Start Time: 12:15
- End Mile: 842.2
- End Time: 16:10
- Miles Hiked: 9
- Miles to Go: 1348.7
- Lodging: Maupin Field Shelter