Day 62. Hello Shenandoah! After getting dropped off back at the trail this morning, I immediately and officially crossed into Shenandoah National Park (SNP). And let me tell you, it is as amazing as I hoped!
First of all, now I understand why Waynesboro is the big trail town it is. Since they host the southern terminus of SNP, I imagine they get a lot of hikers, canoeists, and bikers coming through here for their week-long, weekend and day trips. I am sure I’ll come back to this park again, and Waynesboro is a great place to kick it off or close it out.
Today’s hike through the park was beyond gorgeous. There were only a few times the trail summited a mountain for a good landscape view, but hiking through the forest was just as scenic. It helped that spring is definitely here, though, as the green of the forest is very much in bloom. There was even a trail signpost to signify the new season, see photo above, haha. The animals were scurrying about all day, though I still haven’t seen much more than squirrels and birds. Black bears are very prevalent here, but no sightings today. Maybe tomorrow … he said willfully…
AND, the trail is extremely well maintained. Translation: no rocks! Additionally, its a very wide foot path, often with extra clearings on both sides. You could hike down the trail with 2 or 3 people during much of today’s walk. See (and cheer with me) below:
Side note, with such a well groomed trail today, I was able to left my eyes up and actually see more of the trail surroundings. When I saw the tree below, I could not help but take a picture and laugh. I mean come on, this has to be someone playing a prank on us hikers, right? I don’t care if it’s juvenile, it’s funny.
So funny looking trees? Check. People or animals? Not so much. I didn’t really see anyone else today, so I enjoyed those wide trails all to myself. Pancho Villa was at the start with me, but I never saw him again. And Spice started an hour before of me, but I didn’t catch her until the very end. So much of the day was just me, the sun, and my thoughts. It was wonderful and pleasant.
Only one issue today, water was scarce. The first few miles were fine, but then the trail quickly dried up around noon. I knew it was coming, but had to salvage my 2 small bottles for the last 12 miles of today’s hike. Given that it was 80 degrees and sunny all day, that was very difficult (and painful) to do. I won’t lie, going 4 hours with just 1.5 liters of water was torturous. The trail crisscrossed the Skyline Drive multiple times, and I prayed for trail magic of cold drinks at each parking area … but alas, no luck. I won’t say I screamed out loud in frustration each time, but I won’t say I didn’t.
When I finally saw the trail marker for the shelter, I pranced down the 0.2 mile side trail with visions of cannonballing into the river I heard ahead. But like a bad dream or mirage, the river and shelter were nowhere near each other. When I arrived at the shelter I learned there is only a pipe sticking out of the ground with just a dribble of water to fill bottles with. When the water hits the ground, it is immediately soaked up into the dry earth. No river, no cannonball, no guzzling down gallons of water quickly. It was a bit frustrating, but it was water. And that’s all that mattered. I drank 2 liters as fast as I could, then had another liter with dinner. I’ll probably get up 3 times tonight to pee, but I am definitely not complaining. There is a similar 8 mile stretch without water tomorrow too, but that’s nothing compared to the 12 today.
Side note, there is a HUGE turkey at the shelter right now. He apparently followed these 3 French Canadian girls in on their hike southward to here, and now it won’t leave. And its huge! I could have walked up and pet the damn thing if I wanted … and the Canadian girls did!
I’ll do another 20 mile day tomorrow, but since it’s going to be hot and sunny again, I may take a mid-morning break at Loft Mountain Campground … which is not at all influenced by the blackberry shakes advertised to be there. 🙂
Hello Neiman (Sharkbait!)
- Start Mile: 863.0
- Start Time: 09:15
- End Mile: 883.7
- End Time: 16:30
- Miles Hiked: 20.8
- Miles to Go: 1307.2
- Lodging: Blackrock Hut