Day 103: Waynesboro, VA to Paul Wolfe Shelter (5 mi) Near-o Day
I slept in quite a bit today and we changed our plans of hiking 20+ to taking an on trail near-o because I was experiencing some pretty painful cramps. Lars and Veto didn’t leave bright and early either and Lars planned to leave with us whenever we did.
I finally packed up and went across the street to CVS to get some toiletries and aleve. We were waiting and waiting for our hostel owner/shuttle driver and I finally decided to just go ahead and call a Lyft. We got a ride and were on trail by 11:30 ish. It was super hot, sunny, humid, and sluggish and I was moving quite slowly. We stopped and I soaked my feet in a creek. Running water felt so good!
We decided to relax and take a day “off” at the nearby shelter 5 miles in instead of trying to push for a 21 mi day. We couldn’t camp because our tent was not waterproof and there was rain in the forecast, so again, we were bound by the shelter placements.
We hung out with Lars and some other section hikers by the beautiful river. FF and Lars built a fire. Veto decided to push further and set up his hammock so we bid him farewell.
Day 104: Paul Wolfe Shelter to Maupin Field Shelter (16 mi)
The rain came down hard last night and just continued steadily into the morning. I felt like there was a silent agreement amongst everyone in the shelter to sleep in since it was raining so much. I finally got up at 7:45 am to hit the privy. Once I came back to the shelter everyone else was waking up.
We set off in the pouring rain. It rained consistently and steadily all day. We started out with a river ford, immediately followed by the balancing act of trying to put socks on wet feet without falling over while holding an umbrella and poles - tricky business.
We had some climbing today. It got pretty windy at the top and I wasn’t able to use my umbrella for about 30 mins. During that time my rain jacket got soaked and made my arms and body quite cold. My hands were frozen solid. When I finally met up with FF at our lunch spot he said he was too wet and cold to make smoothies and insisted we just eat bars and have our smoothies with hot water when we got to the shelter. I took the time to get my puffy jacket and warm gloves out of my clothes bag and that helped significantly. The last 6.4 miles to the shelter were not as freezing cold thanks to these layers. The gloves really repelled the water and kept my hands dry.
I also attached my umbrella in a better way today, using the loop holes for the hose on my left side to thread the umbrella rod through. It worked pretty well!
When I got to the shelter there were two section hikers, Lars and FF. I drank my warm smoothie and said that was my dinner (it was 5:00 and it filled me up). FF ate our dessert packet for dinner.
Two more Flip Floppers showed up. One of the section hikers went to his tent and we were finally able to set up in the shelter and get in our sleeping bags - so much warmer!!
Day 105: Maupin Field Shelter to Seeley-Woodworth Shelter (20.4 mi)
Today was an absolutely gorgeous autumn day, which I desperately needed. Putting on soaking wet socks this morning was definitely no fun though. Yesterday was so wet and cold I really started to question what I was doing out here in such prolonged misery. Today was such a wonderful change of pace. The air was crisp and cool all day without any of that warm, humid air that we’ve been dealing with. The views were spectacular and the walking wasn’t too hard.
There were some sections in the morning that were a bit rocky, but after we summited The Priest (our first time getting above 4k feet since Katahdin), the trail seemed a lot less rocky.
Lars stuck with us again and has been our hiking buddy since the beginning of the Shenandoahs. He’s a super sweet boy from Manhattan who is taking a semester off of college between his sophomore and junior year to hike the AT and then the Florida Trail immediately after. He travels ridiculously lightweight and is way faster than all of us. He doesn’t even have a hip belt on his pack and eats cold soaked mashed potatoes every single night for dinner because he ditched his stove in the north. He sleeps in shelters 75% of the time because he only has a tarp and a sleeping pad, so definitely not ideal for wet nights. He brought hiking poles to hold up his tarp but doesn’t use them when hiking. He is sticking with us for company, similarly to Biscuits. I think the younger hikers don’t like being alone out here and will slow down in order to stick with friends. Loneliness is something Fresh Feet and I have not had to grapple with as much as other hikers since we are hiking together.
We ate double dinner tonight (what a mistake to skip yesterday!) and set up our tent because the weather looks totally clear. I am super sick of sleeping in the shelters and needed a break from that culture. The tent feels cleaner and warmer as well.
Day 106: Seeley-Woodworth Shelter to Punchbowl Shelter (25.3 mi)
Phew! What a day!
We got an early start this morning. We woke up at 6:10 and I was on trail by 7:10. Got to see the beautiful sunrise through the trees as I drank my morning smoothie before hitting the trail.
The morning went by relatively quickly. I tried to run the runable sections and downhills as much as possible because I knew today would be a very long day and the only real spot for our midday lunch was a shelter with a creek 16 miles into the day (probably our longest stretch before “lunch” to date).
The first 6 ish miles of the day were in open woods with the sun coming through the trees and some very nice trail. Then we hit a section with some bald grassy peaks and it was so beautiful! We took a break with Lars at about mile 7.5 on a big rock in the middle of a grassy bald ridge.
We then had a smallish climb up two different peaks and then a monster downhill of about 4.5 miles. At the bottom of the downhill we took our lunch break at the shelter and walked along a beautiful rushing creek for a while. We were warned be every single section hiker coming the other direction that there was a bridge out up ahead from the flooding and the AT had been re-routed to go around it causing hikers to ford the river. Their warnings really made the river ford seem like a big deal. Then finally I asked how deep the river was and a hiker said mid shin at the very deepest. Oh - totally not a big deal at all! I took my shoes off for two crossings but it was not challenging or a big deal at all!!! Especially compared with the fords in Maine!
The next 5 miles in the gap were pristine and gorgeous! Lots of creeks and manicured trail (with a few fallen trees). FF and I hiked this section together.
Four of the last 5 miles of the day were pretty steep and uphill. It was a big push after 20 miles on my feet and it was a bit more humid today than yesterday. I plugged in to listen to a podcast and grinded. I ate my chews and drank my skratch. It was hot and I was sweating, but I was steady and knew I would make it in a reasonable time frame.
I got to the shelter before 6:00! Woohoo! I walked over to the shelter and it was filled with dudes and cigarette smoke so I left immediately. The last thing I needed after a big day is to be grumpy about dudes smoking in my face. Yet again, I’m the only female. I set my stuff down near an area that looked ok for tenting. FF and Lars came over and we all ate dinner while FF and Lars rigged the tallest bear hang I’ve seen yet! They used both of their ropes tied together to hang from a branch about 30 feet off the ground.
I think we will bid farewell to Lars tomorrow as we will probably stay in town and I think he will duck in for a resupply and duck out to get more miles done. We will be getting off trail for a few days next week to visit my cousins and aunts and uncle in Roanoke, so we don’t need to speed up, if anything we can slow down a little to time our visit just right.
Day 107: Punchbowl Shelter to Glasgow, VA (10.5 mi)
This morning was a misty mountain morning in the clouds. Not rainy, but no views.
We took a quick break at the top of one of the mountains but basically just walked nonstop until we got to the road to get into town. We didn’t have to hitch for long when the hostel driver pulled up! Perfect timing! We hopped in his car and headed to the hostel.
Glasgow literally has NOTHING. There are four establishments: a convenient store, a gas station, a dollar general and an Italian restaurant. We ate lunch at the Italian spot, bid farewell to Lars (who is speeding up to get some new shoes in Catawba, VA) and got some provisions at the dollar general and the convenient store (tortillas, a razor, a blaze orange vest and some candy).
I made a LOT of phone calls this afternoon and FF had some TV/phone time for a big part of the afternoon. We did laundry and dishes and ate the same pasta we had for lunch for dinner.
Late night packing up and catching up on the blog.
Tomorrow is a forced sleep in day because the post office doesn’t open until 8am and we need to mail back our tent and my rain jacket.
Figured out our next resupply points and our upcoming visit with the Alamis! So excited!!