Near Hazeltop [mile 915]
I’ve been trying to hike until 5:00 (just like a job) then start looking for my stealth spot. It was 6:00 or 6:30 back in North Carolina, but stealth spots are harder to come by here in Virginia. Case in point: Today I started looking at 3:45 and wasn’t able to come up with anything until a little after 5:00 (and the spot isn’t ideal, but it’ll do; I had to work some magic around rocky parts and underbrush and I’m on a bit of a north-south slope). So I made my 5:00 goal! But it was through no fault of my own. Whatever. I’ll take the victory!
Shenandoah, I confess, is a little tedious when it comes to the walky bits. The critters are great (saw a toad today), but aside from that it gets a bit repetitive. Up, down, weeds, trees, up, down, weeds, trees. The trail itself is excellent, though—level and generally with a minimum of rocks and roots (although when it gets rocky and rooty it does so in spades; overcompensation, I think!)
It was another dark, cold, gray morning. It feels like days since I’ve seen the sun. As long as it’s not raining, though, I’m fine with that. Getting overheated is worse than having to put on my windshirt.
I hiked a while this morning and broke out my mp3 player to break the monotony. If I had it to do over, I’d get a regular iPod with a bigger selection of music. I wanted something cheerful and bouncy today and had nothing like that and no way to download anything in town. But I listened to what I had and marched along until I came to a picnic area.
Wonder of wonders, it had a bathroom with a sink and soap! So I washed my filthy disgusting mildew-stenchy wool socks! They’ll probably just get mildew-stenchy again because nothing dries in this relentless gray wetness, but at least for tonight I won’t have to sleep with my face next to sometiing that smells so bad that it literally wakes me up. How do sheep stand one another? I’m surprised there are lambs at all.
Finding a sink and a flush toilet and a trash can was exciting! (It doesn’t take much anymore.)
Every once in a while you meet somebody out here who’s so joyful that they burn like a lamp. I met one today! Her name is Freebird, and that seems like a perfect name to me. She started March 1 and she’s planning to flipflop at Harper’s Ferry after going home for her son’s wedding. She’ll actually have taken five months to hike, but with two months off because of weather and another trip home. She loves the trail! And she loves flipflopping, and she even hiked when she went jome the first time. Now that’s dedication! 🙂 We hiked for a couple of hours together before I couldn’t keep up anymore. She was planning a 20 to Big Meadow for dinner, and I was planning on being there tomorrow for breakfast. Anyway, it was great to meet her and get that jolt of positivity. I hope I see her again. If I flip, we should be at Katahdin at around fhe same time.
I stopped in the Lewis Campground camp store for a nutritious lunch of ice cream and potato chips, and when i got back on the trail I met a new friend and an old friend hiking together. The old friend was Whirled Peas; we can’t remember where we met, but it was a rocky technical section. She passed me. I remember because I liked her trail name. She’s nursing a knee injury and is currently hiking with a German named Red Specs. Guess what color his glasses are? He has a friend from Philadelphia, and Red Specs (whose English is slow) told this guy that his trail name was going to be Red Glasses. And the friend said ‘No, no… make it Red Specs.’ Red Specs planned his hike for a year then had an Achilles injury right out of the gate that took him off the trail. He said it seems to be OK now. Good luck to him! Luckily his visa is for seven months.
And that was the day! Shenandoah is really great for amenities: the camp stores and wayside restaurants and bathrooms. I probably shouldn’t be enjoying them as much as I am, but they’re such a luxury! Freebird said you can do laundry at the official campgrounds, too, but the timing would have to work out perfectly for me to do that. I’ll try to hold out for Harper’s Ferry.
But tomorrow? Coffee! And who knows? Maybe the sun will actually come out to play.