Stanimals Hostel to Brown Mountain Creek Shelter
20 miles, mile 807.3
I slept through the whole night in the bunks and enjoyed a cup of coffee in the morning. This hostel does pancake breakfast for guests and Kev ate a lot of them. I was jealous. The rain thankfully stayed away today! It even got sunny (and very hot and muggy) in the afternoon. We have been hearing some thunder in the distance and there is a chance of storms tonight. It would have been a tight squeeze in the shelter so we set up our tents down by the creek. We figured they’re soaked anyways if it rains tonight doesn’t make much of a difference. Because of the heavy fog and clouds in the morning we didn’t have a view after the climb up to Bluff Mountain. Thankfully most of the elevation was in the beginning of the day, it was around 5,200 feet of gain total. It always makes the last few miles a bit easier. About 3 miles from camp there was a beautiful lake that we stopped at for a bit and soaked our feet and enjoyed the view. Both Kev and I read our books for a little bit on our phones and then continued on. This area has a lot of history, along the Brown Mountain Creek in the early 1900’s, freed slaves made a community here and lived by the creek. We noticed the stone walls that still remained. There was no cell service for the majority of the day and tonight. We have used the Zoleo to send messages more than I thought we would. My 25 messages for June were gone early in the month so Kevin has been using his. I’m glad we both have one. The mileage for the next few days is still up in the air, we might be able to make it to Waynesboro in 4 days, but also have an extra 1/2 day of food that we will probably use and get there on the 5th day. Doing it that way we will have more time in town to resupply and decide if we want to stay at a hostel or hike out. Yay for hitting 800 miles today!
Brown Mountain Creek Shelter to Priest Shelter
22.5 miles, mile 829.8
I’m proud of us! Today was the most elevation gain we have done in a day, around 6,600 feet. We left camp around 8am and got to the shelter at 6:45pm. Thankfully about half of this elevation was within the first 6 miles of the day, and then the rest were “smaller” ups and downs. The trail took us over a meadow area which was popular with day hikers and I got to pet a very cute pup named Gus. It did rain on us in the afternoon and my feet got soaked after I sunk into some deceptively solid looking ground up to my ankles. The final push up to the shelter was all uphill the last mile but we powered through it because the thought of dinner was enough motivation. This shelter is interesting because it is called the Priest Shelter, the logbook here isn’t a normal logbook. It is full of “trail confessions” that usually behind with “forgive me Father for I have sinned” and then it continues on to share the confession, or trail sin. There were a lot of “I sleep with my food”, “I pee in the middle of the trail”, and “I haven’t dug a cat hole since Georgia”. Then there were some grosser ones, and some actual mean things like stealing from places. I wrote that I get irrationally angry when people don’t say hello back to me on the trail, that I pee in my tent vestibule when it’s raining, and I take toilet paper from every public place we go into. It was very fun to flip through the logbook. We got our tents set up, our food hung, and are all set for bed!
Priest Shelter to Stealth Campsite
19.7 miles, mile 849.5
Even though today was shorter than yesterday, and about 1,000 feet of gain less, it seemed way harder. It was very hot and extremely humid and the climb up to the Three Ridges was never ending to me. The trail today was very rocky and steep. There were good moments throughout the day though. After coming down from the Priest, there was a beautiful river that we stopped to swim in. I also wanted to dry out my shoes and socks from yesterday, it was so humid they didn’t dry overnight. The water felt amazing and there were little fish swimming around me. After sitting to dry off for a bit and reading we decided it was time to start the climb out of there. On the way up we saw a coyote! It looked right at me for a couple seconds before turning and running off. We had to break up the climb and stopped for lunch at a view point. It’s always cool to see where you were that morning and how far you have hiked. While we were eating the coyotes were yipping a bit. It was a bit frustrated to not be able to move as quick as usual today because of how rocky it was, and then it rained in the afternoon briefly but just enough to make everything extremely slippery. I was sliding all over the place on the rocks and we took the last couple miles very slow. We started around 8:30am this morning and didn’t get to camp until around 7:30pm. I ate a Mountain House Beef Stew and two granola bars and I’m still very hungry. Unfortunately our food is already hung and I’m too lazy to get it down for more food. I will just eat something extra in the morning. We only have 14.8 miles into town where we are staying at Stanimals hostel in Waynesboro for the night to do laundry, shower, and resupply at the Walmart nearby. Usually we go longer than 4 days but it’s been so hot and muggy a shower will feel amazing.
Stealth Campsite to Stanimals Hostel, Waynesboro
14.8 miles, mile 864.3
How I wish there were more hours in the day sometimes. We got to Rockfish Gap around 2:45pm today and to the hostel around 3pm. We got the tour, and then took showers and did laundry. Then we realized we were out of fuel and the Walmart nearby doesn’t have any. Luckily the hostel does shuttles around town and we got to go to the outfitter for fuel, and then to Chipotle to run in and grab dinner to go! It was so delicious I ate the whole thing and was still a bit hungry after. There are a lot of hikers at the hostel and I met some new faces while I was eating. I texted our friend Food Truck that we haven’t seen in forever because him, Hagar (Ricky), and Swiss Chris have been one day ahead of us for weeks now. Every day we would get to a shelter just to see that they were there the night before. They took a zero here in Waynesboro which means we finally caught them! It will be so great to see them on trail tomorrow. We are entering Shenandoah National Park first thing and it should take us 5 days to get through it, it’s a stretch of about 100 miles. It was a little tricky to plan this resupply for me because there are three Waysides throughout the national park which are restaurants with some groceries/camp food. However, it is never guaranteed they will have gluten free foods, and they are between 0.4 and 0.6 miles one way off trail. There is one Wayside that we will pass on the 5th day early in the morning that is 0.1 miles off trail. We decided to carry 4 days of food into the Shenandoahs, and on the 5th day we can stop at the Wayside to get food for the last day. There is a Walmart Market within waking distance of the hostel so we went there to resupply. Groceries sure are expensive because it was $107 for me for 4 days of food, and not even good healthy foods. Of course I had to get a pint of ice cream and am happily eating it now. We will be on trail between 7:30am and 8:30am tomorrow!
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