Day 68: Troutville- Mile 736, 9 miles
We got a really late start because Hi Five needed to hit the outfitter and get some new gear. We did our resupply shopping trip to the grocery store, and finally hit the trail about 1 pm. No Touching was MIA and the others were all staying an extra night, so we went on without them. Around 4pm the skies opened back up and we got drenched. We threw our tents up and called it a day. The rain eventually slowed down at dark and Hi Five made a bonfire and taught me how to catch crayfish- I did not eat any though!
We set out in our soaked gear into a hot and muggy morning. We stopped at Taylor’s Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway and laid out our things to dry- it’s really difficult to do in the woods because of all the tree cover, so finding an open Bald or other area is always a wonderful surprise!
We had an interesting and slightly scary interaction with some locals and then set up camp for the night. Homeward Bound was there and had never had a crayfish so we searched until we found a big crawdad for him.
Day 70: Jennings Creek- Stanimals Hostel, 20 miles
I woke up early and relaxed and enjoyed coffee while I waited for Hi Five to wake up and see if he had heard from our pal No Touching. He went to get water and on his way, he decided that he was ready to leave trail. He called and arranged for his Mom to pick him up. I had loaned him money for his resupply, so I waited with him for his mom to arrive to get my funds back. We waited at a nearby campground that is hiker friendly and serves concessions and plays movies.
I found my first tick on my leg, but got him as he was running up.
I made it to Stanimals Hostel for the night to pick up my next box and get clean. The heat and dehydration from the lack of Trail water sources was really burning me out, and I was asking myself if I was a “real Hiker”. I felt like I couldn’t hack it. I talked with some other hostel dwellers that I had never met, and we were all having the same thoughts and feelings. That made me feel a lot better, because it was definitely something the trail was doing to everyone, and not just inability on my part!
Day 71: Stanimals Hostel, 0 miles
I was still in a funk and decided to take the day off and go play on the river. I arranged a shuttle to take me to the only open kayak in the late afternoon- when storms were supposed to roll back in, of course!
I spent the early part of the day relaxing, and working on the blog. I sewed up (poorly) a broken spot on my gaiters. I had the place to myself and decided to scroll through Netflix, when I came across the documentary about The Barkley Marathons. The Barkley Marathon is a crazy hike/run adventure that combines orienteering, speed hiking endurance, and insanity into a race. There have been an incredibly low number of finishers. The person assigned the #1 is the one most suspected to “ring the bell” and give up. It was just what I needed to get me pumped up and excited for the trail- maybe someday I’ll be Runner #1! I watched until it was time to leave for my kayak trip.
I enjoyed a beautiful river and- big surprise- NO RAIN! It was a perfect!
Day 72: Stanimals Hostel, 0 Miles
My friends Doc and Maui convinced to me take a second zero, they were camping at a shelter that the town of Glasgow provides for the hikers. It didn’t take much convincing, because when I woke up my arm was swollen to double the size! Doc looked at it and thought I would be good with Ice, Compression, and Elevation, so I hit the Dollar General for supplies and then sat around in the air conditioning at the hostel and worked on the blog. I visited the shelter in the evening and enjoyed Two Sticks singing and playing guitar at the campfire.
Day 73: Stanimals- Devils Backbone Brewery
I took a shuttle to the small town of Buena Vista to pick up my next package. This was the first time I “Yellow Blazed” which means that I skipped a few miles of Trail on the road. I felt guilty about it, but was in need of my package.
Devils Backbone is a brewery that allows hikers to camp on their property. This place was on Shelley and my MUST VISIT list from the start! It did not disappoint and I enjoyed beer and a great dinner.
Day 74: Devils Backbone Brewery, 0 miles
Shelley planned to rent a car so that we could do a little brewery tour and sightseeing in the area. She was a few miles behind me and her car was supposed to be ready at noon, so I spent the morning relaxing, enjoying the Hiker breakfast special, and working on the blog. At noon when she walked to pick up the car, they told her it would not be ready until 4 pm. At 4 pm, they wouldn’t answer her calls, so our side trip was cancelled.
I decided to eat dinner again at the brewery since I was already there, and I ran into Sharkey. The last time I saw her she started talking about how she was planning to “aqua blaze” the Shenandoahs, which means canoe the river instead of hiking. She had an open seat in her canoe and it was free, so she wanted me to join her.
I was indecisive for quite sometime; I wanted to hike the actual trail, but canoeing would be a nice change of pace and different scenery. I finally decided to take the adventure and go canoeing.
Day 75: Devils Backbone- Waynesboro, yellow blazing
To get the canoe from Sharkey’s friend, we needed to skip ahead to Waynesboro as soon as possible. We took a shuttle and arrived in the early afternoon, just in time to get Mings Garden’s famous lunch.
We camped in the free camping area that Waynesboro provides for hikers. We met Nomad and Trouble, two older hikers that have been all over the world on trails and were full of Trail knowledge.
I somehow convinced Sharkey to walk 6 miles round trip with me to Buffalo Wild Wings so that I could try the limited edition Scorpion Sauce 😂
Day 76: Waynesboro, 0 miles
Sharkey had not yet heard from her friend with the canoe, and I was antsy. I did some grocery shopping and strolled around town trying to kill time. I also took advantage of the free shower that the YMCA offers to hikers.
Day 77: Waynesboro, 0 miles
Another day of killing time- and I was out of my pants with ants. I started to panic big time about all the miles I was missing, how I could have hiked instead of yellow blazing, and how far behind I would be- but still had a ray of hope that I would make up time on the river.
I got my hair cut and colored while I waited! Yep, definitely not a real Hiker- but it sure felt good!
We rode a bus all over the place because Sharkey had seen an REI on a map somewhere… I finally looked it up on my own and we figured out that it was REI Consultant firm that she had seen 😳
Shelley made it in to town and I met her to catch up over dinner at the brewery.
Day 78: Waynesboro- Port Republic
We finally had the canoe plans! We waited for Sharkeys friend at the canoe put-in until dark, and then went across the river to camp and start our canoe trip in the morning.
Day 79: Port Republic- Elkton
Throughout the morning we hit tons of rocks and almost went sideways many times. We managed to get it all under control each time.
Then we hit a line of rapids. Our boat got jammed in between rocks and quickly filled up with water. Our packs and everything in the boat submerged completely. We untied our packs and carried them through fast moving water to the shore, and then made other trips to bail everything else. At the time of the capsize, I had my phone in my skirt pocket, and I had my skirt around my shoulders because I was getting sunburnt, so my phone nearly escaped the river… until I bent over to get a better grip on the canoe under one of the rocks and it tumbled straight in. I was able to snatch it back almost immediately, and it was in a ziplock bag, but I was still worried it was fried. With a lot of elbow grease, we eventually got the canoe loose from the rocks.
It was very scary!
We loaded everything back in the canoe to look for a nearby campsite, but everything appeared to be private property. I was really shaken and wanted off the water ASAP. We approached a gentleman that was weeding near the shoreline, explained the situation, and asked if he knew where the nearest camp was located.
We must have looked pretty pathetic because he said that we could camp on his property! I was overjoyed to be out of that boat! We pulled out all of our gear to dry and assess the damage.
Charlie, the homeowner drove us into town so we could get a warm dinner and dry our clothing at the laundromat. Charlie was a great gregarious fellow, and it was very generous of him to allow us to camp on his land and get us situated. He is a musician that plays several instruments and has played for people all over the world!
Day 80: Elkton- Waynesboro
My phone survived, but my charger and cords were all fried. Sharkey and I discussed at length what we wanted to do- I wanted off the river and back on the trail and to get my electronics replaced. I had anxiety about skipping the actual trail the entire time, and felt this was my calling to get back walking. Sharkey wanted to float on. I wasn’t keen on having her continue by herself because I was worried she would experience the same thing we did and be all alone- but she is a tough and stubborn woman and she was ready to float, so we hiked our own hikes!
Charlie shuttled me back to Waynesboro, which felt like a true vortex at this point. I could have hopped on trail and skipped the section we did by river, but I elected to go back so I could do all of the missed miles and the entire Shenandoahs.
Annnnnnd I was back to the free campground. I contacted an area trail angel to explain my situation and he agreed to give me a ride to the Verizon store. I tried to charge my phone with another hikers cord at the shelter, and it would not take a charge, so I was worried it was a delayed reaction and I would need an entire new phone.
The Verizon store was able to get my phone charging, so that was a huge relief! I repurchased everything else at Walmart and treated myself to another buffet at Mings. My friends Turbo Snail, Poppins, Galaxy Pirate, and Coach were all at the shelter and preparing to aqua blaze the river the following day- they had an open seat and tried to convince me to join them 😂😂