From Reid’s Gap To Front Royal: 9 Days Hiking With WMG
Two Reasons I Needed To Arrive In Waynesboro By June 23
I last posted that I slack packed out of Glasgow to make up time due to rain, but I also had to get to Waynesboro to meet my friend (WMG) Wild Mountain Girl, who was going to hike Shenandoah National Park (SNP) with me and to pick up mail before the post office closed on Friday afternoon.
Instead I got off the trail on Thursday afternoon due to the heavy rain and high wind. Thank you to Bugs at Stanimals Hostel, who escalated my shuttle to an emergency status due to the weather. Super Tramp took me to the post office on the way to the hostel. I picked up my resupply box, a new hiking skirt from Lightheart gear, as I have lost weight, and new merino wool toe liner socks from Injinji.
A few hours later, WMG arrived at Stanimals. I thought I would slack pack from Reid’s Gap to Rockfish Gap the next day while WMG day hiked a shorter distance. WMG suggested we start together at Reid’s Gap with our fully loaded backpacks. What a good idea!
We had a great day hiking. It only sprinkled a few times. We saw some thru hikers slack packing south and others backpacking north. WMG spotted a beautiful flower, which I believe is a Turk’s Cap Lily.
We camped that night at Paul Wolfe Shelter, which is near Mill Creek. The sound of the water lulled us to sleep. No one else stayed there.
Trail Magic, 900 Mile Marker, Campgrounds, and Waysides In SNP
The next morning, I was surprised to learn that the Visitor Center at Rockfish Gap no longer exists. Looks like it was damaged in a fire. There is a port-a-potty and a picnic table, so we ate an early lunch. We entered SNP and camped at a sweet dispersed site between two streams.
The next day we received trail magic FOUR times. The first time was at a road crossing, where ham radio enthusiasts were participating in a two-day ham radio event in the US and Canada. They provided water, which was much needed due to scarcity of water sources, and snack bars.
The second time, we received trail magic was from a woman, pictured below with WMG, who completed the AT with section hikes in 1994, 1998, and 2002. She offered sandwiches, snack bars, and ginger ale. Since water sources were few and far between, we really appreciated the soda.
The third time, on top of Blackrock Mountain, a dayhiker named Little Biggie, gave me an enormous cookie, which WMG and I shared after dinner. The fourth time, a park volunteer gave us potable water at Dundee Picnic Area.
The following day, we reached the 900 miles in the trail. I was jubilant!
We also got to take showers at Loft Mountain Campground and resupply at the campground store. We planned to get water at a Ranger Station south of a dispersed campsite. When we arrived at the Ranger Station, a thunderstorm was threatening so we cooked dinner on a covered porch. After the storm passed by, without raining, we continued on.
The following day we got caught in a heavy rainstorm south of Lewis Mountain Campground. The rain stopped and we arrived at the campground store just as it was closing. A big thanks to the employee who let us shop and pay in cash, as she had already shut down the computer.
After taking a hot shower, which warmed us up, the campground host told us and another hiker, Baffles, that car campers had left a day early and there was a free campsite. More trail magic! A section-hiking couple also shared the campsite with us.
The next few days, views were obscured due to the smoky haze from the wildfires in Canada. We enjoyed lunch at Big Meadows Wayside, including blackberry milkshakes. Later that day, we were appalled that, along large sections of the trail, trees were defoliated by spongy (gypsy) moths. One night, we camped under trees that were defoliated, which was creepy.
Another day we ate a delicious breakfast at the Pollock Restaurant at Skyland Resort. Another morning, along with about six other thru hikers, we bought food at Elkwallow Wayside. At the southern and northern ends of SNP, we grazed on wild black raspberries.
The trail marker signs in SNP are concrete posts with small, engraved metal, see featured image above and photo below. They are difficult to read at best.
I was so happy to return to standard signs after leaving the park.
I Stink, Therefore I Am: The Comforts Of Mountain House B & B And Shopping In Front Royal
For several days, despite washing up each night, I felt grimy from sweat. My clothes were totally saturated in sweat. Very unpleasant,
Yesterday we hiked a short day, arriving at Mountain Home B & B by 2 p.m. Owners Scott and Lisa Jenkins greeted us at the door of their house. First built in 1847, with an addition in the 1870s, the house is in magnificent condition. The property is now registered as an historic site and also consists of former slave quarters and other buildings.
Scott got us each a glass of refreshing lemonade, which we drank on the patio, and carried our packs to our room. In the foyer, I noticed a bowl with wristbands. Picking one up, I read, “I stink, therefore I am. AT Thru 2023.” The slogan fit me to a T, and I immediately put it on my wrist.
Lisa showed us around and took us to our room. After showering, we gave them a bag of our dirty clothes. Then we headed into Front Royal for the outfitters, grocery store, and dinner.
The outfitters is located in Front Royal’s quaint downtown. There I had the tips on my hiking poles replaced, purchased a new fuel canister, replaced my Be Free filter, as the bag had two tiny holes, and bought another pair of Topo trail runners. Then we went to a mall, where I purchased some food at a natural foods store, and the rest at a Martins. Last we ate a huge and delicious meal at a Thai restaurant.
When we returned to Mountain Home, more hikers had arrived. Several of us soaked our weary and sore feet in tubs of water and Epsom salt. Our clothes were freshly laundered. After a good night’s sleep, I am looking forward to breakfast. Then I return to the trail, and WMG heads to Ohio to visit friends before returning home to the Adirondacks in NY.
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