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)