Day 81: Waynesboro-Turk Gap- Waynesboro, 12 miles
While I was walking several miles to the trailhead, Sharkey- (a different Sharkey, a male past thru-Hiker), picked me up and gave me a ride the remainder of the way.
I had the beginning half of my hike to myself and then started to leap frog some hikers that I didn’t recognize. Since there were others around, I decided to night hike to make up some miles. As dusk approached, I saw the group of hikers I had been leapfrogging in a parking lot. This changed my plans and I decided to set up camp, (because I am afraid of falling off a cliff at night and no one ever knowing what happened to me). I found a beautiful site and started to pull my tent out when two bears approached me! I yelled HEY BEAR and they did not care one bit! So, I pulled out my camera and then yelled “GO BEAR” and finally they ran off into the brush a little bit. I got a few seconds of hilarious video- everyone I showed asked if I was cheering for the bear since I said “Go Bear!”, but alas, I’m still not able to load videos on this website. I could still hear the bears crumpling around in the brush nearby and decided it wasn’t a great place to camp… I ran back down to the parking lot where the other hikers were waiting. They were heading back to Waynesboro for the night and returning to the same exact point early in the morning. They offered to take me along after my bear encounter. I felt a little nervous about camping on my own near the bear posse, so I took them up on the ride and once again headed back into the Waynesboro vortex.
Day 82: Waynesboro- Mile 901, 27 miles
It took the rest of the crew a bit to get moving, so I didn’t get back on trail until about 10 AM. I had a great day of hiking and saw another bear that didn’t pay any attention to me.
I found out at the first shelter that I was only about 30 minutes behind No Touching, so I kicked it up a notch to try and catch up and hopefully not camp alone in bear world.
When I caught up, we decided to do big miles to hit the 900 mark, so I had my first marathon day! We arrived at dark to a small cliff with a few tent sites. We sat on the cliff and got to see a little fireworks show!
Day 83: Mile 901-924 (Luray VA/Open Arms Hostel), 24 miles
Another long and mostly uneventful day. I saw tons of bears! Bears in trees, bears walking down roads, and bears hunting in the bushes for berries (just like me).
I stopped at one of the famous waysides along the Parkway and enjoyed a fancy (read: expensive) burger. I also got one of the famous Shenandoah blackberry milkshakes- It was one of the things I had been looking forward to since I began planning this adventure.
I stayed at Open Arms Hostel where my next resupply package (new underwear- woohoo!) awaited. I tented on the lawn there rather than purchasing a bunk to save a few dollars, and I was still able to enjoy a hot shower. I walked a few miles down the road into town and every car and person that passed looked at me like a zoo animal- this was post shower so I didn’t think I smelled like a dirty ox anymore, but I could have been wrong. I was pretty pooped after two back-to-back big mile days, so I laid in my tent, read, and relaxed the remainder of the day and night.