Day 65: Loray, VA (Beahm’s Gap)

Day 65. Today ended up being a surprise slackpack and family day. I connected with my sister late last night and learned the family wanted to come out and meet me again to hang out and possibly hike. We had discussed it a bit last weekend, but I wasn’t sure what would end up happening.

I left Big Meadows Campground at 8am and hiked 8 miles to Skyland Resort (another of those fancy campground facilities in SNP). When I got there, my sister was just pulling in as well, with food and drinks in tow, so we enjoyed an amazing lunch on the patio looking out over the mountains. Then I dropped most my gear in her trunk and we hit the trail.

I thought perhaps we’d have a slower hike together as we chat and take in the sights, but nope. My sister is like me and very comfortable hiking fast along these trails. We covered our planned 4 miles in record time, then stopped for a snack and water at the Pinnacles Picnic Area. It was a great hike together and the weather was perfect, but we separated there and she hiked back while I went North to finish my day.

The rest of the afternoon, I enjoyed hot sunny weather and more gorgeous Shenandoah valley views along the way. The miles ticked by quickly and I rolled passed the Byrds Nest and Pass Mountain huts without stopping. I wasn’t on a mission necessarily, but I wanted to get today’s hike done so I could enjoy more family fun time.

Side note, at one point I passed a Cub Scout troop going on their first backpacking trip together. It was really funny listening to the scoutmaster’s safety lesson while I took my water break. The kids were uber-eager to hike and all had MONSTER backpacks for their 2 mile hike to the hut. I laughed to myself as I remembered my first backpacking adventure. I was 19 years old and packed everything in my dad’s “recommended” packing list. It was a list that told you to consider A or B. In my young haste, I didn’t pay attention and packed both A and B … and C, just to be safe. My backpack weighed at least 60 pounds and my trip up the Montana mountains required rest breaks at least every 50 feet. I was about as good a listener back then as these kids looked to be today. Hopefully their scoutmasters enjoyed the laugh as much as my dad did. 🙂

I strolled into Beahm’s Gap at 4:30, again just minutes after my sister did. Our timed sibling synchronicity is incredible today. We had a snack together on the side of the road then drove to this evening’s accommodations in Loray, VA … Jellystone Park.

I’ve never been to one of these Jellystone Resorts, though there was one near me growing up in the Wisconsin Dells. For those who are unfamiliar Yogi Bear’s themed camping resort … it is basically a childhood dream come true. Water slides, swimming pools, games, arcade, fishing, boats, campfires, etc. you can stay in a dozen different types of accommodation, ranging from campsites to full service cabins. It’s also a very popular RV Campground.

After a shower and a few cold drinks, my sister and I had a casual dinner and enjoyed the solitude of our cabin in this oasis. Even as an adult I would love spending a weekend “camping” here. We watched kids run around outside playing games, and laughed about how it reminded us of ourselves on family vacations growing up.

My brother-in-law and nephews arrived a couple hours later, where we enjoyed a campfire and cooked s’mores. It was too late for the other resort activities, but hopefully they will get to enjoy them fully in the morning when I’m back on the trail. Since it looks like rain tomorrow, the kids will forego hiking and instead enjoy some campground playing

It’s good to spend time with family. After so much time out in solitude on the trail, it’s great to be brought back for a spell within this familiar environment. I miss a lot of people back home, and do my best to stay in touch, but’s it’s hard to get to everyone as much as I’d like. These weekends have been great and are a taste what’s to come for me, where family and friends plan to join me on multi-day sections of the trail later this summer.

Tomorrow will be another slackpack day, this time into Front Royal, VA. I’m so close to Harpers Ferry now I can almost see it. Like Damascus a few weeks ago, hitting that trail town milestone will be another significant one, as it signifies the (unofficial) halfway point to the trail. I can’t believe I’ve been out on the AT for more than 2 months and am nearly 1000 miles done! What an amazing adventure this is, and what an incredible journey it has already been.

Hello Neiman (Sharkbait!)

  • Start Mile: 925.9
  • Start Time: 08:00
  • End Mile: 946.2
  • End Time: 16:30
  • Miles Hiked: 20.3
  • Miles to Go: 1244.7
  • Lodging: Jellystone Park (Loray, VA)

13 thoughts on “Day 65: Loray, VA (Beahm’s Gap)

  1. I so wanted to meet you and be a trail angel when you were in Big Meadows or Skyland areas but unable to head up due to health and family obligations. Assume you didn’t see any bears. You are passing through some prime bear sighting areas. The temperature is almost always 10 degrees cooler in that part of the park than down off the mountain.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Awe, that was a kind thought and consideration, thank you! This has been the best hiking of the trail by far, and the people out here are all so nice. No bears yet, but I’ve got my eyes peeled still!


  2. Sounds just wonderful. Say hello to your sister for me. That area is so beautiful hard not to linger. Your headed to Harper’s Ferry and half way. Get lots of photos of both. Congrats on your journey. If you want to see bears I can help you with that. Open a can of oil packed sardines and rub them all over you body and pack. That will attract them if there anywhere near you and clear out anyone staying in a shelter or hut. Happy Trails


  3. Hey Mike, Bruce and I are still reading and living vicarously through your adventure. It was great to see photos of Devorah and her cute boys. Those boys won’t ever forget meeting up with you on the trail, nor the wisdom and rules you passed down 😀. Keep writing, stay healthy, and know how much your readers are enjoying the journey!


  4. Years ago we camped at a Jellystone Resort in Rapid City, SD with our kids. We camped a lot with them all over the Midwest. No sooner had we gotten set up in the resort when I heard the boys arguing with some other kids. “This is not camping.” They proclaimed “It’s a kiddy park for babies.” Next thing I hear is “Dad, we want to go.” We did.
    It is hard to escape when your hiking. Happy Trails

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Years ago we camped at a Jellystone Resort in Rapid City, SD with our kids. We camped a lot with them all over the Midwest. No sooner had we gotten set up in the resort when I heard the boys arguing with some other kids. “This is not camping.” They proclaimed “It’s a kiddy park for babies.” Next thing I hear is “Dad, we want to go.” We did.
    It is hard to escape when your hiking.


  6. Great photo of you and Devorah with the scenic background. She must be the younger, because she sure looked better than you! 😉 Ha! Hi to family! Amazing adventure, indeed! Enjoy!


  7. Wow – this is actually looking better and better. Great that Devorah & Co. hooked up with you again. Just getting re-acclimated to Minn. weather & spring. I am really impressed with the kindness and thoughtfulness of the people (both on & off the trail) you are meeting with. It is a far cry from Montana. Yes, I remember you packed everything on our first family trip to Glacier Park, but then, I did the same thing too – double blisters within 2 miles on the Poia Lake Trail. BTW… wise words from my co-packer, Cris, but don’t follow his advice. Stay away from sardines and tuna fish :). Keep in truckin’
    mom & dad

    Liked by 1 person

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