Gravel Springs Hut [mile 951.7]
Gods, I’m dirty. I’m dirty with a filth that has no name. Deep, deep grime like permanent stippling, and scratched open bug bites, and old scabs and festering scratches and muddy bruises. Bless me, mother, it has been eight days since my last shower and today was about ninety degrees. They may ask me to burn my shorts in Harpers Ferry. I may do it anyway; I think I need to break down again and buy smaller ones.
I never did tell you how my plan went… the one to ensure tent space. As usual, it worked out in an entirely unexpected way. Yes, I got a space! But yes, there were boy scouts and girl scouts there! And it was fine. 🙂
I’ve met a whole new group of people in the last couple of days, including a 61-year-old woman named Rerun. She knows a whole different set of people from the names I know. But she’s considering a flip, too, and we exchanged contact info in case there’s something we can arrange.
How would you get from the Delaware Water Gap to Katahdin?
Rerun suggested that the ATC in Harpers Ferry probably has some good advice—and that right there is an excellent suggestion. She said she heard that they actually encourage flipping because it reduces the environmental impact.
Back to the hikingness. Let’s see… got up reasonably early but I didn’t get water last night, so that slowed me down and I didn’t hit the trail until 7. Then walk walk walk, uphill, downhill, weeds, rocks, until 10:45 when Rerun and I arrived at the same time at the last wayside of Shenandoah. Oh, waysides, how I’ll miss you! They were all different, too. Loft Mountain was like a little short order cafeteria (my favorite; and it had plugs to charge phones); Big Meadow was more expensive and diner-like, with waitress service (and plugs); Skyland was a big beautiful restaurant room, highest prices (and no plugs except at one table, and I hiker trashed more juice from the bathroom outlet); and Elks Wallow was just this side of a city hot dog cart—the same old menu, but no indoor seating. There were picnic tables outside, and hikers just scouting out outlets and plugging in where they could. My least favorite! But the cheeseburger and famous blackberry shake were delicious.
Now, if you were walking theough Shenandoah carrying—I kid you not—seven extra pounds of food that you won’t be able to eat before Harpers Ferry, what would you do? I’ll tell you what I did: I bought more food! Some candy and a couple of cinnamon buns, which I’m enjoying for dinner. Hey, somebody found muffins at that wayside that had 660 calories. Score! But Rerun had tried one and said it didn’t taste very good, so I passed. These cinnamon buns aren’t much better. I think the icing is vinyl. But hey, sugar and no effort; works for me.
The afternoon was hot and sunny, a perfect (if sweaty) summer day! Around 3 or 4, I was limping and couldn’t decide whether to try the hut or keep going for 2 more miles. I said, ‘Trail, what should I do here?’ And the trail said immediately, ‘Go to the shelter, dumbass! Your feet hurt!’ So that’s what I did, and on the way down Rerun passed me. She’s here tonight with some other people, and she just came down to my tent area for a visit. How nice was that?
I tried something tonight. When my feet got super bad, I tried changing shoes. I put on my crocs. Uuuurrrrrnnnnnttttt; wrong answer. The lack of sole was immediately painful, and the effect on my bad knee was also instantaneously not good. It felt not only unhelpful, but actually dangerous. So I put the shoes back on and limped into camp. I’m thinking about biting the bullet and buying a second pair of shoes in HF, something mesh. I’d have to cut holes in them for my stupid protruding bones, but maybe just changing shoes would help for a mile or two—you know; a different kind of sore. I haven’t decided; weight is a big factor. Who the hell wants to carry extra shoes on a long-distance hike?
I think that’s it for the thoughts and events of the day. No critters but a butterfly (which looks GIANT on the iPhone photo but was actually only regular size. Some beautiful views. And tonight, hopefully no rain for my last night in Shenandoah.