I had a tough time with the trail in Virginia last time. This time, I went in with a new attitude, intent on making friends with a former foe. I think the fact that I was feeling much better this time helped a lot. Keep in mind that Virginia accounts for 1/4 of the trail, and hikers will have completed almost half of the entire trail by the time they get out of Virginia. We have been on the trail a long time at this point!
I stopped to talk to some day hikers and one of them told me I looked like I had been out here for a while. 🙄 I took that to mean I must have looked haggard and/or thin and stringy. This same exact thing happened in Virginia last time! Same exact words.
I ended my time through the Shenandoahs at Front Royale, VA. I did 13.7 miles to Mountain Home Cabbin. There is an old plantation house there, and they have converted the servants’ quarters into a hostel. They have an old diary that a young girl kept while living there during the civil war. I only stayed there overnight to do laundry and take a shower. I love that hostel, and the people are very nice. A very nice breakfast is included in the price.
The rocks began in earnest after Front Royale. Then, ‘The Roller Coaster’, which is 13 miles of PUD’s (pointless ups and downs). It was brutal in the sauna-like heat! The rain came back as well.
Thankfully, we didn’t have as much rain in the Shenandoahs. As I continued my trek through Virginia, the weather became Sauna-like. Another hiker explained to me that when the dew point is high, your sweat doesn’t evaporate, so you don’t get the cooling effect. It was very uncomfortable. There was one late afternoon that I was dripping sweat in my tent until the sun went down. That was the first night I didn’t use my sleeping bag.
Eventually, the rain came back.
I stayed in two other hostels after a full day’s hike. After 18.3 miles, I stayed at Bear’s Den Hostel, which is run by the ATC. It rained the last hour and a half that I was hiking, (I got drenched) and we had more rain overnight.
This hostel is in a ‘castle’ made of rocks. There was no A/C and the place smelled like mold, dog and Hiker stank. The big draw was ‘The Hiker Special’- bunk, shower, laundry, frozen pizza, soda and a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream for $30. Getting out of the rain and dry was all I needed to hear! The food was a bonus!
The people there were extremely nice! When I went to pick out my ice cream flavor, the freezer was packed with pints. I asked the guy if he knew if there was any coffee flavored ice cream in and amongst all of them. He said, “You mean like Coffee, Coffee, Buzz, Buzz,Buzz?” My eyes got as big as saucers and I started trembling. “YES!” I said breathlessly. I’d had that one years ago. It’s coffee flavored ice cream with espresso bean chocolate fudge chunks in it.He made a special trip downstairs to get it for me! It was awesome! I had to finish it the next morning at breakfast. After having the pizza and soda for supper, I could only eat half of it.
There was more rain forecasted so I hiked another full day (14.2) miles to Bear’s Feet Retreat. Loved this place! It was a beautiful home in the woods that they turned into a B&B. The basement (which didn’t look like a basement because there were several sliding glass doors which opened onto ground level) was the Hiker Hostel. I had chosen one of the rooms (I was the first person there.) It had a double bed, and when a couple unexpectedly came, she moved them into my room with a double bed, and moved me upstairs to one of the B and B rooms so I wouldn’t have to share a room with just me and another man downstairs. I’m okay with co-Ed bunkrooms, but not with sharing a room with just one other man. I had mentioned this to her as I chose my room, and that’s why I chose the room with one bed in it.
What a treat my stay there was! She had lost her husband a few years earlier, and she and I talked a lot. We were close in age and had some things in common .
I really enjoyed my time there. The rain came down in buckets late that afternoon. I was so grateful to be out of it! I slept like a rock! Best night’s sleep I have had in a while!
The ‘simple breakfast’ that was included in the $25 price was sausage and egg scramble, sourdough toast, watermelon, coffee and orange juice! I was expecting cereal. This was a ‘spread’!
I only had about 6 miles to hike to Harper’s Ferry, WV. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is there. It is the ‘official’ halfway point. The mathematical half-way point is in Pennsylvania. I think it’s about 100 more miles or so.
At the ATC, they register the hikers, take their picture for an album, and assign them a number. I am the 937th person to come through there.
I weighed myself there, and I am at 114. I was 125 when I started the trail. That is a loss of 11 pounds. I’m trying NOT to lose weight. I feel really well at this point…so much better than I did in 2016!
(The Shenandoah River)
More rain today. I felt like a million bucks yesterday. I woke up feeling exhausted. Its like your body gets permission to feel tired when you decide to take a zero. The forecast says up to an inch of rain, but so far, it is just drizzling.
I really enjoyed the Northern states last time, and I’m looking forward to them again. I’m just hoping I can leave this rain behind!