Mile 771.4 (20.6 Miles) Thunder Hill Shelter
My first day back on the trail with a full pack was hot and muggy with very long climbs. Again, Virginia is not easy! Someone told me I had some climbs coming up that would rival some of the climbs in Georgia and I think it’s true!
I mentioned before that the shelter spacing is strange in Virginia. I would end up doing a very long day. Toward the end of the day, I passed PapaJ, Tumble and Will! They were going the opposite direction. They were being picked up by a shuttle for another stay in town. Tumble had developed some terrible blisters.
They showed me a picture of a huge rattlesnake. Apparently, PapaJ had come within about 6 inches of it! Will said it was as big around as his wrist. Coincidentally, I had come upon two black snakes in the middle of the trail earlier in the day. I think they were mating. They were all curled up together. After that, I started praying that God would send his angels to scoot all of the snakes off the trail and to keep all hikers safe from snakes. I have been praying for the three guys and their safety as well.
PapaJ is a cartoonist and had a rubber stamp made of a caricature of himself. He signs all of the shelter registers, and puts his stamp on it; in fact, I saw his stamp before I ever met him. He said he read in the register at my shelter destination that there had been a bad rattlesnake problem there. He made me promise to look over the ground where I would set my tent up really well. Needless to say, I was spooked and paranoid when I reached the shelter. No one else was there. I set up my tent, and right as I got it up, it started to rain. Soon, it was pouring with lightening, thunder and wind. Scary! I ate one of my BBQ Chicken sandwiches in my tent and went to bed early!
Mile Marker 786.0 (14.6) Stanimal’s Hostel
Thankfully, I didn’t see any rattlesnakes there. When I got up the next morning, I had to use ‘the necessary’. (I’ve been reading a lot of Historical Fiction since I’ve been out here.) I was dreading the path to the privy because it was not well manicured, and you know…rattlesnakes. Man-OH-Man, what a treat that privy was! It must have been new. Many of the privies in Virginia are old fashioned outhouses. Scary…and dark. In fact, I often prop the door open when I have to use those kind. Not so with this beauty! It had one of those wavy fiberglass ceilings which some people put on their back patios. Lots of light was coming through. It had a fancy round vent coming out of the back to vent the stink. The privy didn’t stink at all. Someone had carved handicap poles out of wood, and the door handle was hand carved. That privy was the highlight of my day! It was so clean!
I came upon a turkey on the trail when I rounded a bend and it ran off clucking indignantly. That was another highlight. I saw some on my last hike, too, and it always makes me think of my chickens.
I had planned to stay at Stanimal’s in Glasgow, VA, to break up my hike and take a shower. Getting clean and eating real food really lifts my spirits. I also had a maildrop there. It’s a long story, but in short, slackpacking messed up my mail drop and I had it forwarded to Stanimal’s.
(Serious shout out to the trail maintainers who must have spent countless hours s doing this! Thank you! You have no idea how much we hikers appreciate this!)
Stanimal’s Hostel is a house with bunks in two bedrooms, two private beds upstairs and two private beds in the basement. It had one full bathroom and one emergency toilet in a closet in one of the bedrooms. There was no light in there, and it didn’t look like you could shut the door without putting your legs on either side of the toilet. That is Waaaayyyyy too many people in a house with effectively ONE toilet and shower. It stressed me out!
The bedrooms were small. My bedroom had three sets of bunks. I was on an upper bunk that swayed as I tried to climb up it. There were some hikers came in at the same time I did, but they wanted to be dropped off at the restaurant. When they came in to the bedroom I was staying in, I thought I was going to be throw up! It smelled like a bunch of Sasquatches died in there after urinating on one another. People-there is a misconception that it does no good for a hiker to wear deodorant. IT’S NOT TRUE! Even putting it on after you shower in town helps! I felt seriously nauseous. I think after they had their shower and did laundry , they could tell how bad their backpacks smelled because thankfully, they took them outside. Talk about STANK!
I left the hostel bright and early, knowing I had a big day ahead of me. I don’t want to get bogged down in Virginia this time. I had a terrible time getting through it last time. I’m grateful that I am feeling much better and stronger than I did at this point on my last hike.
(To be continued…)