Day 66: Front Royal, VA (US 522)

Day 66. Week 9 video is live above! Daleville to midway through Shenandoah National Park, showcasing some great moments as I begin to close out the great state of Virginia.

After a great time with family last night, I was feeling good for a long slackpack day this morning. I got dropped off at the trail just after 8am and hiked with a mission all day. There was impending rain on the horizon, and I wanted to get as many miles in as possible before it hit. All things considered, I did pretty darn good.

Besides a stop at the last Wayside (Elkwallow) for one last shake (blackberry), I didn’t stop walking all day. The terrain was mostly easy, the trail mostly clean, and the weather mostly cooperative … so I never really felt a need for a long break. I snacked while I went, I filled water from where streams hit the trail. It was a good hiking day.

At least, it was for the first 20 miles.

After that things changed pretty fast. When I exited Shenandoah National Park at mile 21 for the day, with only 3.5 more to go before meeting the family again in the town of Front Royal. There isn’t a ranger station, parking lot, or any real designation you are leaving the park except for a sign and billboard. But once you take another step, you definitely know you are out. The wide and well groomed trail immediately fades to narrow and rocky. The trail starts winding unnecessarily up and down hillsides lazily, and on top of everything else … it stared raining. I spent the last hour and change reminiscing about the “good old days” of the past 100 miles while carefully stepping over wet rocks in my sullen mood.

I will admit, today was probably not a “good day” for me mentally. I can’t really explain it except to say the monotony of walking 20 miles a day nonstop started to get to me. I won’t dwell on it much here because I didn’t dwell on it much today either, but I recognize that it was a tough day internally. Something about the draw to spend time with family instead, the lack of seeing any hikers nor wildlife (read: bears), and the constant pain at the end of each day just weighed heavily on me. And I’m not loving my homeless beggar look when out in public either. This is really only the 2nd time I’ve felt less that ecstatic to be out here hiking, and those days will happen, so I’m not concerned. It was just one of those days.

I hiked 24 miles in 9 hours. I had a monumental day, finishing just after 5pm. I could have easily done 6-10 more miles before nightfall if I wanted (read: if it wasn’t raining). So it was a good day, statistically. Plus, it ended with dinner at the awesome Pave Mint BBQ restaurant in Front Royal with family, and a dry hotel room to watch the Kentucky Derby and playoff hockey (Go Caps).

Only 54 miles to Harpers Ferry, where I plan to take a Zero Day to recuperate the body and soul. I could use a break I guess, so I’ll continue North with that goal to guide and motivate me forward.

Hello Neiman (Sharkbait!)

  • Start Mile: 946.2
  • Start Time: 08:14
  • End Mile: 970.8
  • End Time: 17:10
  • Miles Hiked: 24.6
  • Miles to Go: 1220.1
  • Lodging: Quality Inn (Front Royal, VA)

4 thoughts on “Day 66: Front Royal, VA (US 522)

  1. Wow! Front Royal Amazing. I was out of town and not following the past few days so need to get caught up. Seems you were just in Waynesboro! Must have been great to see family like you did. And the ‘down’ feeling after those encounters is fully understandable… the rain just tends to bring it out. It will pass!! Great weekly video summary as well!!

    As to your ‘homeless beggar look,’ suck it up -wear it proudly! 😉 You should look more seasoned than those weekend warrior day-hikers who might even be camping for a night or two! Boo-Yaagh!

    I’ve hiked many Civil War Battlefields out in your current area: Culpepper, Brandy Station, Manassas, Strasburg, Winchester, Harper’s Ferry, Antietam and Gettysburg (there are so many)-throughout the Shenandoah Valley, and all the way to Gettysburg. Harper’s Ferry was the site of a major Armory where tens of thousands of Union firearms -riffles/muskets, were produced. It changed hands (between Union/Confederates) probably a dozen times, due to the Armory and it’s strategic location at the junction of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, and it’s rail access. John Brown even tried to take it over. Think of the Civil War troops hiking these areas, hauling all their gear through the tough landscape -ill clothed and ill-fed, disease, and all the deadly battles!

    The next week or so should be very interesting due to all the historic sites/tales, in addition to the beautiful landscapes through which you’ll pass. Enjoy!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. After 35 yrs in the military and many of them on deployments to “fourth-world resorts” the hardest days for me were the first few days away from family & friends and getting into the flow of the deployment. It was always exponentially more mental than physical. Most of us would focus on one-day at a time until it became our new routine.

    The other thing we all learned was when we needed a break and to take the break we needed.

    Once you hit Harper’s Ferry make the most of your Zero Day to recuperate. Identify the things that have affected your mood and then change whatever you can either short-term or long-term.

    If your “cave man” look is bugging you get a haircut & shave or even take a spa day (mani-pedi-massage-haircut-shave).

    Conquering the “bad days” will enable you to finish your epic adventure and in the coming years will give you something to smile about as you recall the great days you’ve already enjoyed and the many more to come.

    God Bless & Hike On!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We need to get one of those tubs installed at Stoney Indian Pass. We would make a fortune!
    Wonderful picture 🙂 Keep on truckin’
    xxx
    mom & dad

    Like

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