Day 67. Today accidentally ended up being a 23 mile Nero Day. I know I know, that’s not nearly “zero miles” … but I didn’t start until almost noon today, and just didn’t feel like stopping until dark. I thought I would only do 15 miles, but got to that shelter around 5pm and simply felt like the next one 10 miles up was doable. It was. But just barely.
The sun set at 8:08 today, and I rolled into Rod Hollow Shelter at 8:15. I felt ok with this late day hiking plan for a few reasons:
- I got a really good 11 hours of sleep at the Quality Inn last night.
- I ate a huge pancake and egg breakfast at the diner in town.
- I haven’t seen more than 1 thruhiker a day since Waynesboro, and it’s a Sunday night, so the likelihood of a fully packed shelter was low.
I felt great hiking all day today. My brother-in-law wanted to hike in the morning before heading home, so he joined for the first 8 miles out of town. It rained all morning, but just as we hit the trail, it started to dry up. We had a great hike and by 1pm it was rain free and easy walking.
We stopped for lunch at the Jim & Molly Denton Shelter, which was a great one to show off. It may even be the best shelter in Virginia. Not because of anything special in the shelter itself … but outside, amenities galore! Not only was there a great porch jutting out from the sleep area, but it even had a giant Adirondack bench to boot. And outside that, there was a big covered picnic table area, privy, horseshoe game and a solar powered shower! Those last two should impress any hiker, it’s practically a life of luxury in the woods.
After our hike together, I said goodbye and continued my march to the end of Virginia. Given the stipulations above, it was an easy decision to go on when I reached the turn off for Whiskey Hollow Shelter 8 miles later. By now it was a hazy mist and gorgeous evening hike. There was a bit of dampness still in the air, though, as if Mother Nature was reminding you who was in charge here. But it stayed dry, minus a couple gusts of wind to the wet leaves above and I journeyed on peacefully.
I walked up to Rod Hollow shelter, just as the last slivers of daylight faded. But there was more than enough light to see that I grossly miscalculated the likelihood of inhabitants. It was packed with hikers! There were 8 mummy bags of sleeping people, who were probably not too happy to hear a loud latecomer. On the AT, “hiker midnight” is the term for bedtime, and it occurs as soon as it gets dark. So my arrival was the equivalent of a 12:30am wake-up call. Oops.
I probably should have just setup my hammock, but it was still wet and there is a chance for rain tomorrow. So instead, I quietly asked if there was room for one more inside. A nice woman happily answered yes, and quickly cleared her strewn out gear from a section on top. In all fairness, this place technically holds 10, so there was definitely room for me. But people were leisurely spread out and already asleep, so I appreciated her willingness to create a space.
I setup my bed quickly, then went over to the picnic table to eat a huge dinner and clean myself up. I was starving! I downed a cold dinner of snacks quickly, then hung my gear and food bag. As I finished, two more thruhikers strolled in as well … where have these people been?? My only guess is that they were all a day or two ahead of me in a small hiker bubble, and I happened to catch up with them all today. These two didn’t bother with the shelter and went straight to setting up their tents.
Side note, someone just farted really loud. Like wake everyone else up loud. But, as is the culture and with thruhikers, no one cared and everyone ignored it. I’m secretly laughing inside though. 🙂
Since most everyone was asleep, I don’t know who’s here, but I’ll find out in the morning. I am going to wake up early and try for another big day tomorrow. If I’m out on the trail by 7:00 or 7:30, I think I can hike all 30.2 miles to Harper’s Ferry by sunset. It’s a huge challenge, and would be my first 30 mile day, but I think it’s doable. The first 14 miles are a constant up and down of hills called “The Roller Coaster”, but then it looks pretty calm. I’ll know after that stretch whether the rest of the way is possible in one day. Wish me luck, my reward is a zero day and rest!
Hello Neiman (Sharkbait!)
- Start Mile: 970.8
- Start Time: 11:45
- End Mile: 994.4
- End Time: 20:15
- Miles Hiked: 23.6
- Miles to Go: 1196.5
- Lodging: Rod Hollow Shelter