May 18, 2013
Today’s mileage: 20.5
Total mileage: 878.0
After falling asleep late last night after watching Argo, which David had rented for us (awesome!), we both passed out. As always, it felt so nice to sleep in a comfortable, warm bed. We got up this morning and David had made us toast and scrambled eggs. The eggs were absolutely delicious. We headed out after breakfast and back up into the mountains. We said our goodbyes and thank you’s to David before we began hiking in the rain. But it didn’t get us down. It was warm outside and after all, we were about to enter Shenandoah National Park! And if I hadn’t said it enough, thank you so much Jones family. We had a blast hanging out with you guys and I already know that our time with you will be one of the highlights of our trip!
As we entered the park, we filled out our backcountry permits and talked with YOLO, a section hiker from Germany that we’ve been hiking with since Marion, VA. We didn’t see many thru-hikers out today, only two actually, but many day and weekend hikers. Trail Days is going on in Damascus this weekend and some hikers choose to canoe through the park, also known as “aquablazing.” We heard that several hikers were injured during the parade at Trail Days when a woman lost control of her car. We don’t know much more than that, but hope that everyone is okay down there.
It rained on and off throughout the day and remained foggy as we hiked through the green tunnel of the park. On my family trip to Virginia ten years ago, apart from visiting the Charlottesville area and Williamsburg, we also drove part of Skyline Drive and visited the Luray Caverns. I laughed today as we hiked into the park because when I was here in 2003, the weather was exactly the same and you couldn’t see a thing. I remember all of us jokingly remarking on the beautiful views we had of the fog during our drive.
“Oh wow, isn’t that view just incredible!”
“What a beautiful day to drive through one of the most beautiful parts of the country!”
“The fog is just breathtaking here!”
I couldn’t help but say the same things today. I hope we get at least one sunny day here, because so far I only know fog and rain in the Shenandohs. We had a little trail magic near one of the Skyline Drive crossings. A guy had left a cooler of water and some cups for hikers to drink. We crossed Skyline Drive a total of nine times today and we will continue to cross it everyday as we hike north through the park.
Our feet hurt quite a bit today and I’m bummed that I didn’t find the insoles that I wanted in Waynesboro or Charlottesville. They either didn’t have my size or they were too expensive for my liking. I didn’t realize that a size 9 woman’s insole would be so difficult to find. Guess I’ll just have to wait until REI outside of DC.
With sore feet and dirty legs, we rolled into camp around 6:15. The hut was full, so we set up our tent down the hill. In the Shenandoahs, what are usually known as shelters on the majority of the AT, are called huts here. And since bears are quite active in the park, you must hang your food from a metal bear pole. I actually attempted and failed to get my food bag up on the pole, so Miles ended up doing it. I felt so weak trying to maneuver my bag onto the hook. Arm strength has never been my forte. I was a sprinter on the outdoor track team in high school and we would do strength training twice a week in the weight room. Over four seasons, I added five pounds total to my bench press weight. That’s really bad. I don’t think I got above 60 lbs. My point being, my legs are solid muscle now and my arms are strands of spaghetti. I think I’ll do some bench presses in the morning with the bear pole. It’s never too late to change those spaghetti arms into solid steel.
Bad news. Miles threw up tonight. A lot. We had heard that the norovirus was going around again in this area and so we think that the girl who was sick in the shelter the other night didn’t eat bad cheese. She had the virus and passed it on to the guy helping her out that night and Miles too. And I’m probably next. I don’t really have a choice to avoid it since we have to sleep in the tent together and in the park, you must stay at the huts or camp near them. It’s not like in the National Forests where you can tent anywhere. He only got sick once and he went to bed early, so hopefully it passes quickly. I’m just bracing for the sickness because it seems inevitable at this point.