Day 78 – A Special Trail Visitor

Rabbit and I woke up around 8:00 a.m., expecting to get about five miles in that morning. My girlfriend, Kristen, was landing in Baltimore and driving down to scoop me up for the holiday weekend. We had expected me to be closer to MD/PA area by this time, albeit I ultimately fell a few days short of this goal.

I started hiking around 9:00 a.m. and the cruise-y terrain had us three miles in at Rock Spring Hut for water after an hour. I had decent service and saw that it was going to be a three-hour drive for Kristen. This gave us plenty of time to cover five more miles to the next wayside for lunch.

We passed a large number of day hikers on this Sunday, and it was obvious why. The weather was great, the sun was out, the haze from the Canadian wildfires was abating. I had a one-sided conversation with an adult deer who was casually eating leaves near the trail as I left the shelter.

The five miles to the wayside were enjoyable and I was giddy at the prospect of being off trail with Kristen for a few days. Along the way we passed a horse stable, and I stole the opportunity for another animal selfie. Rabbit joked with me, saying, “Take a good look at this location, you’re not allowed to skip any of the trail getting back on.”

Rabbit and I have been “purists” from the start and resisted any urges to “cheat” on the trail. What that means is we pass every white blaze. No getting rides and skipping to sections ahead on the trail, no road walking (which happens a LOT in the Shenandoahs).  For us, it also means no “slack packing.” Slack packing is when you hike with a light day pack carrying primarily just your food and water for the day. You generally coordinate with a hostel or shuttle service to hold your heavy gear while you hike. It allows you cover big miles with less strain (i.e.: cheating IMO).

Now I’m not implying we’re better than people who employ these techniques (although we do affectionately call slack packers: “Slackers”). Rabbit and I just personally draw strict boundaries for ourselves. We came out here as a challenge, and making the challenge “easier” cheapens the experience to us. Again, that belief is highly personal and everyone hikes their own hike. I’m only highlighting our personal thoughts on the practice, not to disparage anyone else.

We arrived at Skyland Resort ready to consume copious quantities of calories. I had the fried chicken sandwich with pasta salad (~900 calories), four fountain refills of Dr. Pepper (~600 calories) and a blackberry ice cream pie (~1000 calories). It was a solid wayside stop and very filling. We discussed how many pounds I thought I could add over the four days I would be off trail. My goal is 12 pounds, so we’ll see how close I get.

Kristen arrived sneakily and my plan to have Rabbit film a fake proposal (something I do frequently, much to her consternation) was foiled. Kristen sat down with us and got aquatinted with my remaining tramily member of the last two months. We talked story and filled her in on some inside jokes for close to an hour.

Kristen and I left Rabbit to continue his hike and we got in the car. Our drive up to Maryland would take us a little under three hours with a stop in Harpers Ferry, WV on the way. I’ll be blowing right through and not stopping in Harpers Ferry for the four-state challenge. We visited the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, and I had my photo taken out front. It’s a pretty neat location, I especially enjoyed the topographical map they have of the AT.

It was pretty cool to see and reflect on how far we’ve come and what still lies ahead. What lies ahead for me in the immediate future is a short holiday from the trail with Kristen. When I get back on the trail… MARATHON WEEK!

Stay tuned for that. Stow away in my pack for remainder of the Appalachian Trail.

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Comments 6

  • Chris aka Han Slolo : Jul 5th

    The Blackberry ice cream pie is the bomb.
    You will thinking about it anytime you are within close proximity of Shenandoah.
    And you will go back. 🙂

  • Chris : Jul 6th

    That fake proposal picture,.. awesome!

    • Dale : Jul 6th

      Hilarious, she’s my daughter lol

  • thetentman : Jul 6th

    Love the pics. and the post.


  • laura myrland : Jul 6th

    Rabbit’s Mom!

  • laura myrland : Jul 6th

    Thankful for your blog , pictures and companionship with Rabbit !


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