Day 61: Waynesboro, VA to Turk Mtn

Trip Start Mar 15, 2010
Trip End Jul 23, 2010

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Flag of United States  , Virginia
Friday, May 14, 2010

That goes out to my cousin Colin, I guess that he is way cooler than me these days, I was gonna start out with a "hallo" or "hey hey" or "howdy" such lame, unoriginal greetings!

So camped out in the woods up in Shenandoah National Park (SNP) with my new tent! More to come on this adventure!  Woke up at a decent time this morning to go to the continental breakfast at the quality inn. It was quality!! They had a waffle machine which just made my day (er morning.) I was just going to have one, but I'm not so shy anymore so I ate 3 in front of the amused older guests. Actually as I was constructing a continental breakfast masterpiece of peach yogurt and fruit loops an older lady exclaimed "guess you're never too old to be a kid!" haha couldn't agree more. It was delicious in case you wondered.

So after cleaning out the buffet I headed back to my room and started packing up. Still had to resupply so I walked the .5 mi to a Dollar General and stocked up. Then stopped at the CVS to buy a little wrist watch. This became necessary as I do more solo hiking and others get tired of me constantly asking the time. The watch also has an alarm so I can wake up early and hike before the heat.

Speaking of heat, it was already in the upper seventies as I was doing errands... Not a good sign. Also hit up the post office for the second time and they fortunately DO have my package!

So I feel like a new man, but one that can't even pack his backpack!  With all the new things, the pack is just totally different.  So in the last week I have made the following major changes:
Boots exchanged for trail runners
Sent home hat, gloves, fleece
Old tent for new (1/2 the weight)
Winter bag for summer (1/2 weight)
Sent home nalgene for gatorade bottle
Wrist watch to tell time/alarm

Don't worry though I'm still hiking in my white (or grey/yellow/brown) t-shirt and nasty hiking pants. I invite you all to the ceremonial burning of these items upon finishing.

So I check outta the hotel at 11 and this nice couple sees me and offers a ride, when I tell them I'm going to the post office first, they agree to wait for me! Turns out they had section hiked the trail in SNP and someone had given them a ride. Pay it forward!

So I mail back stuff and then they drive me to the outiftters. I told you about my Leki failure and at the outiftter they sell and install new tips on the end (so much for lifetime guarantee) also I ask the guy for some advice about packing with all the new stuff.  He reiterates what I knew about backpack packing, in contrast to the moron back in Georgia. So I repack my bag (I can't believe I didn't do this sooner) and we weigh it. (37.5 lbs which includes 5 days food and liter water)

Then I call Marguerite, a trail angel, and she comes and drives me to the trail head.  Waynesboro just seemed to be filled with awesome people. I hope they know how much we appreciate their helpfulness.  Sometimes I wish I wrote down the names and addresses of everyone who has helped me along the way, but that would just be too hard.

Despite the heavy pack and the roasting sun and 85 degree heat, I feel pretty good as I arrive to self-register at a kiosk. It's free to hike into the park on the AT but I did see a sign that it costs like 15$ a vehicle...take that carbon spewing tourists!! (just kidding)

My back also feels mysteriously better. It's going to be incredible in a couple days when i've eaten off all this food!  The trail crosses Skyline Drive 28 times in 105 mi of the park. At the
second crossing there is a guy standing in the parking lot taking pictures. I'm sure he snapped a couple classics of the thruhiker descending through the field with big pack and majestic mountains behind. (ok so that's my romantic view of myself)  But really, for a lot of the tourists that see us, it is like seeing a bear. We are rare magestic (albeit stinky) animals that inspire others. If I had a nickle for everytime someone said, "wow" when they hear I'm going to Maine... Anyways after chatting with the guy he and his wife offer me an apple and granola bar. Score!!

Lunch is at a shelter just 7mi in. Definitely a necessary stop for water, which seems to be very rare in the park. This is a huge annoyance when it's hot out! Also I noticed just before the shelter that the ENTIRE tip of one of my Leki's has broken off, less than 3 hours after the repair. What a load of crap. If you're thinking about trekking poles buy the cheap ones from Walmart and then when they break, buy new ones... Freaking Leki.

At the shelter is Hollywood (I wasn't expecting to see many hikers out because most have gone down to Damascus to celebrate "Trail Days" for the weekend. I might go next year.  While talking to him this older couple is sitting in the shelter (much too clean to be thru hikers) and I overhear "verstehst du?" and so I address them in German and ask where they're from etc. Have a nice little convo with them (from Hamburg) never know who you're gonna meet or what language you're gonna speak out here!

At 5 (after very late lunch) I fill up on water and hit the trail. Quickly a thunderstorm is moving in so I only make it 4 or so miles and in the rain rush to set up my new tent. Talk about trial by fire (or water.)  I was envisioning learning to set it up on a nice sunny evening. Well it was easy to set up and got everything in and dry.

Ate dinner and did all camp chores but now another big thunderstorm seems to be rolling in. Definitely feel vulnerable when the weather channel says "chance of tstorm, if you can hear the thunder GO INSIDE." Well, I'm in my tent, does that count?

Well hopefully I'll weather the night in my new tent and old comfy sleeping bag. Trying not to have nightmares of ticks. (found 4 on me today)

Sorry it was a long one. Oh and water just dripped on me. What, can't I ever win???
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Sarah Lampe on

Hey Rob,
I have a question for you... do you lose sense of what day of the week it is while you're on the trail? Do you notice it's only the weekend because perhaps you bump into more day hikers? I'm wondering if you have to actively keep track of time....
Anyway, I'm hoping to join you on Memorial Day at least for a day hike Saturday...perhaps even an overnight Saturday and hike out Sunday depending on how convenient that might be. Josh and the kids can drop me off and pick me up--- let me know as it gets closer where you might be!


Rob, you're NOT telling us your new tent is leaking, are you? Hoping it is just a pocket of trapped water when putting the tent up in the rain. Love the long letters with all the details. From my "comfy" quarters I can envision your interesting journey. You are doing something I would love doing, but for me that day has passed. Keep enjoying!

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