Days 24 Through 27

Day 24 Dreary Start, Great Lunch, Nice Finish

Hiked today 15.9 miles total hiked 378 miles todays ascent 2540

Today I hiked from Skyland Lodge to Bear Fence Shelter.

The day started out dreary with a steady drizzle and a cool temperature in the mid 40s.

 I say dreary, but actually, it’s kind of cool. It’s just one aspect of the complex personality of the Appalachian Trail. They’re actually many days like this, and they have their own charm.  I tried to capture the mood in this picture.

Later in the morning I got this picture from one of the look offs.I’m in between cloud layers, pretty cool!

The cold drizzle continued off and on all morning. I find that the joints on my legs don’t work as well in this kind of weather, they get sore and tired much quicker.

The next picture is a view from the top of Black Rock Mountain, which is where the Big Meadows lodge, campground, and wayside are located. You can see the valley off in the distance to the right and the mountains poking through the clouds in the foreground.

At Big Meadows, I hiked the 0.4 miles to the wayside where I had a delicious lunch of cheeseburger, chips, Coke, and coffee. I stayed there a whole hour and it really took the chill off of me. When I finally left the rain had stopped for good and the day actually became pretty pleasant around two in the afternoon.

Near the end of my hike for the day, I took a quarter mile out and back trail to see the Bear Fence viewpoint.  As with almost all of these side trail views, it was well worth the extra walk.  You can see layers and layers of mountains marching off into the distance and a mist moving in from the left.

For those of you wondering what my camp generally looks like, here’s a picture of my tent set up with my pack and my bear canister on day 24.

I arrived at the Bearfence Hut fairly early, at around 4:15 PM, and had my camp set up by a little after five. It is  kind of nice to have a little time to relax before sleeping.  There were a few other people around but we didn’t talk much.

Day 25 Another long day

Hiked today 20.5 total hiked 399 ascent today 4180 feet.

Today I left the Bearfence Mountain Hut area by 7:10 AM.  There were 3 tenters and one hut sleeper. 

Today there’s not a cloud in the sky and the weather prediction is for a high in the low to mid 80s. It’s actually warmer than I would like for hiking.

My choices for known camp spots were either the Hightop Hut a short 12.4 miles away or the Pinefield Hut a challenging 20.5 miles away.  I went for the far one.

Although the trail stayed above 3000 feet all day there were only two good look offs. First was from Hightop Mountain about 11 miles into the hike.

The second view is from a Rocky outcrop partway up a mountain near the end of the hike. This view looks east while  most of the vistas I’ve seen so far look to the north or the west.

Today I had a low energy level all day. I think it’s because I’m not getting enough calories. For whatever reason the 20 mile hike took a lot out of me. But now I’m comfortable, having eaten dinner, relaxing in my tent at the Pinefield hut. I arrived here around 5:30 PM to find for the first time a truly crowded shelter. It seems there are a lot of section hikers, possibly two large groups that are staying at the shelter tonight. There are about 12 tents and a few people sleeping in the shelter. I had a hard time finding a spot to pitch my tent, but I finally found space in a grassy area behind the shelter.

I’m starting to get concerned about resupply.  Most of the Shenandoah stores are still closed until May 1. They usually open mid April but this year a lot of trees came down and a lot of powerlines had to be repaired. Although I still have almost 2 days of food, there seems to be, no way to resupply before I leave Shenandoah.  The main thing I’m missing is my calorie rich Trail mix which keeps me going during the day. I only have enough for about a day and a half and then I’ll have to reduce my calorie intake during the day. My current plan is to hike the four miles into Waynesboro, which is just outside the Shenandoah boundary. I should get there the day after tomorrow late in the day.

Day 26 From Pinefield Hut to Blackrock Hut

Hiked today 13.3 total hiked 412 today’s ascent 2775

I got up today about 6:10 AM, had my breakfast, packed everything and walked out of camp about 7:10 AM.

It’s another beautiful day on the Appalachian Trail. The sun is shining. The birds are singing, and I feel pretty good.

The first view is from the Ivy Creek overlook, which is about 1.5 miles into my hike. As you can see from the position of the sun, this view is basically looking east. This is actually a Skyline Drive overlook that the AT trail passes right through.

The second view is about a mile later, looking to the west. We’re deep in the Shenandoah’s and the layers of mountains hide valleys on both sides.

The third picture of the day is a picture of a typical Appalachian Stream making its way down the mountain. The combination of rocks, moss, deciduous, trees and rock tumble is the signature of the Appalachians.

This is where I took my first five-minute break of the day. It’s a gorgeous view looking east.

A side trail from the AT descends steeply for 0.6 miles to the Loft Wayside. I’m planning to make the trip because I need calories from the store there.

Great news, the loft wayside was open, although the grill was closed. The store had premade sandwiches drinks like Gatorade and Coke and things like Cliff bars and potato chips. I had a huge lunch from their premade sandwiches and chips and drinks. I also bought one of the premade sandwiches to eat for dinner tonight. So my worries about having enough food or gone for the moment. It was a steep hike up and down, but for me, it was well worth it.

Below is a picture from Loft Mountain looking west, you can see the valley again between the mountains.

In the early afternoon, I came across this view off to the southwest, looking towards some towering mountains.

This is the view from Doil River overlook on Skyline Drive.

Blackrock is a huge rockfall, which clears an opening for a beautiful view out into the mountains in the valleys.

I arrived at the Blackrock Hut around 3:30 PM.  I only hiked 13 miles today because the next shelter was too far and there was no guaranteed campsites between the shelters.  Once again the shelter area was overcrowded.  I was early enough to get a decent tent site but even sketchy sites were in use as more people arrived.  In total I think there were around 10 tents an another 5 people in the hut.

Day 27 To Waynesboro

Hiked today 20.7 total hiked 432 todays ascent 4100

Today I got up at 5 AM, but it took me longer to prepare because it was a little dark. I tried to be quiet while I made instant coffee and oatmeal for breakfast.  I also ate 2 pop tarts. I realized last night that I’m still not getting enough calories I noticed my arms are getting skinny and losing muscle and if I don’t wanna look like a skeleton by the end of this, I need to find a way to eat more calories.  Oneway is to double up on breakfast.

Today is going to be a 20 mile day with about 4000 feet of up and down. Although I’ve had harder days, my trail legs have been a little wobbly for the last two days and I’m a little concerned that I can get it done. I left early this morning so I could take more breaks.

The first view of the morning is from an overlook on skyline Drive called Sawmill Run overlook. The trail crosses the road right at the overlook.

Skyline Drive is a beautiful drive!

In the early afternoon, I climbed Calf Mountain and then Little Calf Mountain. This is the view from the summit of Little Calf Mountain.

I ended up not taking to many breaks and rolled into Rockfish Gap near Waynesboro, VA at 4:00 PM.  I hiked nearly 21 miles in 9 hours and 20 minutes.  I consider anything less than a 30 minute mile average to be great.  My legs felt good and only started hurting the last 3 miles.

I reserved a room at the famous Stanimal’s 328 Hostel and they picked me up at the Rockfish Gap trailhead.

I had a great dinner at The River Burger Bar and stopped for a milkshake at Kline’s Dairy Bar.  I also stocked up on trail mix, pop tarts, oatmeal packets, and premade sandwiches at Walmart.

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Comments 1

  • Darrell Smith : May 1st

    Thank you for posting all of those photographs. They’re beautiful! Look forward to following your hike.


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