Beginning the Flip-Flop
Heading for Shenandoah
My shakedown hike through Connecticut was reasonably successful, meaning no serious injuries; but as I said in the last blog it wasn’t easy for me. Nevertheless, the time had finally come to travel to Virginia and begin the first leg of my flip-flop at the start of the Shenandoah National Forest. All my training was supposed to relieve any apprehension, but the butterflies in my stomach suggested otherwise. The closer we got to the drop off point, the more doubts arose.
My wonderful wife, Pat, was kind enough to travel with me 7 hours (and back) from CT. A special shout-out to her and all support staff back home supporting hikers. I had one final night in a hotel bed, then my wife took me to the drop-off point, gave me a final hug and kiss, and I was off.
Day 5 – Rockfish Gap to stealth site (9 miles)
Day 6 – Stealth site to Blackrock Hut (12 miles)
Day 7 – Blackrock Hut to Pinefield Hut (13 miles)
Day 8 – Pinefield Hut to Route 33 (12 miles)
I’m Doing It!
Day 5 – I’m happy to say that the southern Shenandoah trails are soft and ascents are mild compared to my training grounds. The big decision on the first day was to pass on the shelter 8 miles in and stealth camp, in order to reduce my day 2 milage by one mile. I found a nice spot next to a stream, the last water source for 12 miles.
Day 6 – I’m following a popular hiker’s app called FarOut. It provides a lot of information, including the route, where you are, where shelters will be, etc. It also shows the water sources. Since it would be dry for 12 miles, I carried extra water and headed to the next shelter without incident. On the way, I passed an 87-year-old southbound hiker who instructed me to enjoy God’s Cathedral. Good advice. In camp, I met another person hiking in sandals, open toed socks, and no hiking poles who covered 21 miles that day; age 70. Very humbling.
Day 7 – Wow, what a night! Thunderstorms and sustained 40 mph winds. It was 36 degrees in the morning, and I was regretting my decision to leave the warm gloves home. Once I was moving, the day was clear and warming.
Day 8 – At the end of day 8, I headed for my first hostel experience. I took a shuttle to the local outfitter in the town of Elkton, VA. The outfitter is where hikers go for a shower and laundry. They even have a hiker lounge to make me feel like an elite club member.
While in Elkton, I stayed at Small Axe Farms, a working animal farm with cows, sheep, pigs, and 6 work dogs. We stayed in an old hay barn. The food was extraordinary. I don’t have it yet but can attest to the fact that hiker-hunger is real. The other 3 hikers staying that night put on any eating exhibition, demonstrating both speed and quantity. Morning breakfast consisted of fresh scrambled duck eggs, chicken sausage with apples, bananas, grapes and chocolate croissants.
So How’s It Going?
Shenandoah is really about the views, and they are amazing. When you look up at a mountain, it’s just a mountain. But when you look out from the top of a mountain, it’s spectacular. I wish the views translated into photos, but they don’t. This is the best I can provide.
Finally, they say “The trail provides…” Check out nature’s toilet.
Thanks for listening.
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Happy hiking. I took a picture if natures toilet too. And checked, it hadn’t been used.
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