Days 62-67 on The Appalachian Trail

Big miles, great scenery, return to the Great Smokies, and back to the future.

Once again, I am thankful for the advice to take it easy, and I should have my trail legs in Virginia. Twenty-mile days come easy, and all reminders of my fall have dissipated. As I continue northward the varied scenery makes each day a new adventure and possibility. As for the Virginia Blues, haven’t got them. The people along the way have made the miles slip into happy memories. As mentioned before, I owed 31 miles in the Great Smokies and returned to pay the bill. Though completed in 15.5 hours, I still took time to enjoy the scenery and talk to people.

For the first time in 67 days, I hiked and talked with someone for a number of miles. That someone now has the trail name “Unsinkable,” yes first name Molly. I feel privileged to have travelled a bit with her and she will remain a bright part of my story and memory of the Smokies. Thank you, Unsinkable, for providing brightness on the day of an eclipse!

Surely each day forward will provide a new line in my story, but if my hike ended, I would be content with the experience to date. Loving this thru-hike!

Heading back into the Shenandoah NP, I am reminded that my time in Virginia is almost through. Virginia is Forever, but not quite long enough.

From the first B&B in Damascus to the most recent Hostel in Glasgow, and all the resupplies, restaurants, and drivers, Virginia’s beauty is apparent.

In Glasgow I stayed at Stanimal’s 328 Hostel. Jim, Lamon, and Spotter made the stay enjoyable. The morning pancakes, second to none, start the day off well. Shuttles to the bridge or starting point if your choosing are readily available, and each evening I was met with a warming meal. Something to consider when you pass through the area. Thanks guys for going above and beyond!

The Trail Angels of Waynesboro are waiting for you

As you come up the steps and onto Rockfish Gap, there is a list posted of drivers who will transport you for free, and others at a nominal cost. Personable drivers there at a few minutes notice with a smile and generous hearts. You can’t ask for more from a place.

Days 62-65 Glasgow to Waynesboro

I walked The 22 miles from Glasgow to VA 60 just for a change and was able to come across Skeletor, a fellow hostel guest who has completed the Triple Crown.

I doubt I’ll run across him again as he hikes about 30 miles per day. We were both thankful for the water source at Punchbowl Shelter. Beautiful views and a disturbing marker along the way. I needed to get off that mountain quickly. The eerie quiet put me in motion.

After another round of wonderful pancakes, I said my goodbyes to the hostel staff and headed north from VA 60.

My intended destination was fourteen miles to the Seeley-Woodworth Shelter. The open balds and panoramic expanses marked the day’s hike. It may seem repetitive, but just wow! The trail provides gifts every day with the miles and views. Look around, what might make the day special is a small flower blooming or squirrels playing chase on a tree. At the end of the day I found the shelter full and pitched my tent nearby. Always my preference as I like my privacy.

A fairly early start on a planned long day would bring me to Reid’s Gap with any luck. There are never enough water features. Cool air and fresh water is a good combination for a hiker. Long inclines and declines marked some of the last extreme altitude gains for a long while. A shuttle into Waynesboro for “town food” found me wandering from fast food restaurants to country style foods, and on to the grocery store for ice cream. I also found a bear canister that I am willing to carry.

I find myself waking at night to eat and hydrate to keep my body balanced.

After a fitful night sleep and a shuttle from one of the trail angels of Waynesboro, I was ready for my last push towards Shenandoah National Park and also my return to The Smokies.

Back to Reid’s Gap for the hike to Rockfish Gap. In the movie Forrest Gump, Forrest at one point said, “Sometimes there just aren’t enough rocks.”

He had obviously never been to this portion of the AT. I had this feeling that the trail planners did everything they could to give attention to every rock in this section and make sure you had opportunities to see or step on each one. Done with the trail into Waynesboro and next Shenandoah NP.

Day 66 Rockfish Gap to Wildcat Gap

My timeline may seem a little jumbled here as I started into Shenandoah NP, returned to the Smokies where I owed 31.4 miles, and returned to SNP.

Hiking South from Wildcat Gap to Rockfish Gap, I walked some great trail followed by some “this can’t be the trail” trail. It is endless beauty going up Skyline Drive. The forever views and majesty of the mountains are a reminder of why this trail calls us. Magic!

So, nagging at me for two months has been the 31.4 miles from Newfound Gap to Davenport Gap. The small mileage from Davenport Gap to Standing Bear was previously accomplished.

Day 67 Newfound Gap to Davenport Gap  The Smokies Part II

My son and his family had picked me up and drove me to Gatlinburg, TN to complete this portion of my hike. The true reason was to go to Buc-ees in Sevierville, I was an excuse.

Starting before daylight, I intended to complete the miles in one day. I feel certain I hold the Fastest Known Time in this section on a Monday during a lengthy full eclipse. Just saying it’s possible. Fifteen and a half hours later, I emerged into the darkness of Davenport Gap.

I had been able to talk with thru-hikers, enjoy the scenery, and get that worry of missed miles out of my mind. The next morning, we drove back into Shenandoah National Park.

Final Thoughts

Guard, protect and cherish your land, for there is no afterlife for a place that started out as Heaven.

Charles Marion Russell

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Comments 10

  • Randolph Saunders : Apr 11th

    Rock on, Charles! I look forward to seeing you in Maine.

    • Charles Gutierrez : Apr 24th

      Trying to get there my Brother!

  • JadedFan : Apr 11th

    Thanks, Boomerang! I look forward to all of your posts. I am truly envious of your journey and hope to begin my own, in my own way.

    Keep the posts coming!

    • Elbo : Apr 12th

      You’re going to finish before summer even starts! Wowie! Have you read any Edward Abbey? Your quote at the end reminded me of his book Desert Solitaire.

      • Charles Gutierrez : Apr 24th

        I will look up Edward Abbey. My 63rd birthday is in the first part of July and I would like to be in Montana for it. I feel lucky every day to be here and healthy. I’ll hit 1,200 in the next week and start my countdown.

    • Charles Gutierrez : Apr 24th

      Find your hike and go after it. What seems so simple as putting one foot in front of the other has become this amazing experience. I’ll keep going as long as I can stand up.

  • Marlene Hillermann : Apr 11th

    Glad you are doing well. Enjoy your posts, keep them coming.

    • Charles Gutierrez : Apr 24th

      Marlene, I try to keep up with my posts and fall behind a little. All the support I have gotten breathes more fulfillment in this journey.

  • Mike OTuel : Apr 12th

    Boomerang,great post w stellar pics! Glad you are back on trail and recovered from fall. Getting your trail legs is both physical,mental and spiritual. You have made necessary psychological adjustments to enable you to complete your journey. Really interesting how open to the sentinenence that surrounds you daily. Really enjoy the AT maintained by Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club. Strong history of membership of early thrusters. Also, Roanoke and surround area very strongly supports Vets, there is a great VA center in Roanoke. Your posts brought back a lot of memories. Many hikes in the Rt 60 area, an a important colonial history . Enjoy reading about your journey and ongoing self mastery and recovery. Take care, 2 Spirits

    • Charles Gutierrez : Apr 24th

      Mike, The long journey to healing and finding fulfillment through adversity makes the miles rewarding. The work so many put into this trail gives it life and meaning. I am content with my daily walk. I think many veterans would gain from hiking part or all of the trail.


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