Halfway Through My Bama to Baxter Thru-Hike

Bama➡️Baxter Day 95&96

Day 95: 25 miles

This morning we woke up in the shelter and it was raining lightly outside. We packed up and bravely set out into the rain! Fortunately it was pretty light and over the next few miles it let up.

Beautiful views in Shenandoah National park.

After an hour or so we passed a road and all of us took off our rain gear. I was getting so hot and sweaty and was glad to be able to breath again. Then we had a couple gradual climbs to do over the next few miles. About 7.5 miles into our morning we came to our first wayside in Shenandoah national park. Throughout the park there are loads of restaurants and stores just off the AT. And we planned to go to as many of them as humanly possible while walking through. That meant we could carry a whole lot less food for this section.

We were able to dry off at the wayside which was great. Plus they had all kinds of delicious goodies inside. I got a jimmy dean sausage breakfast sandwich, a Starbucks coffee drink, and even made a freal milkshake from one of those shake machines! What a pleasant surprise. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the wayside and it did not disappoint.

Our first wayside in Shenandoah! A small general store that had shower and laundry as well.

While we sat there and ate I called the post office in Waynesboro, VA and was able to bounce my box ahead to Front Royal, VA. I also took off my shoes and socks and wound up drying them in the bathroom with the electric hand dryers. That’s the ultimate thru hiker move right there. If you have access to a bathroom with a hand dryer you can dry just about anything that you need to. The idea of having dry socks and shoes sounded wonderful.

A f’real milkshake machine at our first wayside in Shenandoah!

We enjoyed a really long and rejuvenating break at the store. With decently dry socks and shoes I was feeling so much better! All of us continued along from there for another 4 miles. Then we came to a trailhead parking area and the sun was out in full force. We couldn’t resist stopping there to let all of our things dry out fully. I laid out my poncho, pack cover, shoes, socks, and a few other things. It didn’t take long for the asphalt and hot sun to dry all of our things. Knowing that all of your gear is dry is a wonderful feeling.

Drying all of my wet gear out at a trailhead parking area.

While we were at the trailhead I realized I had never made a Bama➡️Baxter halfway marker. So I made one right then and there in the parking lot! I cannot believe that I am halfway through my journey at this point. Time has flown, but at the same time it feels like I’ve been out here for forever.

The Bama➡️Baxter 1315 mile marker that I made in a parking lot. I am officially halfway through my thru hike!

Once we dried everything out we packed up and pushed another few miles to a shelter. We had originally planned to camp at the shelter which was about 21 miles in for the day. But it was still pretty early and we were all feeling good. So we decided to cook an early dinner there at the shelter and then continue on.

Roxy lounging in the shelter while we made an early dinner. Then we kept going to get a few more miles in.

After we ate we set out to get a few more miles in. There was a short climb and then it was pretty much all downhill for the rest of the day. I listened to music and the time flew by. It got dark just as we were nearing the area that we planned to camp. We didn’t have an exact site in mind but had seen some comments on Far Out about a few possible places. So we just started looking for sites once we got a few miles in.

The sun peeking through the trees as it began to set.

We found a pretty decent spot and were all ready to be done for the day. While we were inspecting the site Boosted walked down another side trail which wound up leading him to a small graveyard. That definitely creeped me out, but there was no way that we were gonna keep walking. All of us set up about 100 feet away from the graveyard and I tried my best to forget that it was there.

I set up my tent and got situated for the night. Then I ate some snacks to tide myself over for the rest of the evening. Today was such a good day. It feels like I spent the whole day cackling laughing. I’ve been having such a blast with Boosted and Sweet Pea lately. We just goof around and laugh all day long.

The sunset at the end of our day. We got to a camp site just after it got dark.

Day 96: 25 miles

This morning we all woke up around 6:30am and got packed up. We’ve been trying to start earlier recently which I’ve been enjoying. By 7:30am we were walking and getting in the groove of the day. There was a bit of a climb to start the day off but it was pretty gradual. The climbs in Shenandoah have been surprisingly chill so far. By the time that you start to feel it in your legs or breath you wind up reaching the top. The terrain of the park has been incredibly forgiving for sure.

Roxy being adorable first thing in the morning.

About 7 miles into the morning we passed by a campground that had a small store. We weren’t expecting it at all and hadn’t seen it on the map, so it was a nice surprise. All of us wound up heading over there to grab some goodies and take our first break of the day. After hanging out for a while there and drinking some soda and coffee we decided to keep going.

The spread of goodies that I got at a campground wayside. Our first of three wayside stops today.

Only 7.5 miles past that first wayside of the day we passed another wayside too! The terrain was cruisy the whole way with just the occasional brief climb. We made great time and arrived at the Big Meadows wayside in the early afternoon. This was the biggest wayside in Shenandoah National park. They had a full restaurant inside and a small resupply. I got a blackberry milkshake, a burger, a side of coleslaw, and some onion rings.

A blackberry milkshake from a Shenandoah wayside.

The lunch that I got at the Big Meadow wayside in Shenandoah National park.

While I was sitting there waiting for the food to come out a lady came up to me. She could tell that I was a thru hiker and offered me a half a sandwich that she hadn’t eaten. I thought that was really of her. It sure wouldn’t go to waste. The blackberry milkshake was absolutely killer! And so was all the food. We sat and ate and while we were there we also charged our stuff up. Then we laid out in the grass outside of the wayside for a long while.

Roxy laying in the grass by Big Meadow wayside.

The weather was fantastic so we lounged there for a long while. We knew that we only had about 7 or so more miles to do for the day so we weren’t feeling rushed. In the end we wound up sitting by the wayside for over 2 hours. Once we finally headed out we wound up walking along the road briefly so that we didn’t have to backtrack to the spur trail that we had taken to the wayside. That saved us a bit of time which was nice. Plus we got to walk along skyline drive which was absolutely beautiful. The road had tons of overlooks off of it, so we wound up seeing better views on the road than on the AT.

From there we got back on the AT and did a few more miles. There was a decent climb but it was graded so well you barely noticed it. The worst thing of the day was that there were hundreds of caterpillars descending all over us along the trail. Sweet Pea was swatting at them with his trekking poles, fighting for his life. At one point we realized he had about 10+ all over his sun hoodie and backpack. So we had to stop for a second and get them all off of him.

Sweet Pea covered in caterpillars.

While we were stopped there we realized that it was only 4.4 miles to yet another wayside, and it was only 5:30pm. That would be a pretty big day for us but we couldn’t resist the lure of another pit stop. So we decided to continue on to there.  The terrain continued to be lovely the whole way. We had a couple brief climbs but otherwise just cruised along.

The views as we hiked from Big Meadow wayside to the Skyland wayside in Shenandoah.

A super rocky stretch of the AT in Shenandoah National park.

Around 7:30pm we arrived at the Skyland wayside. It had a full restaurant which was unbelievably fancy. I got delicious seasoned brussel sprouts and a piece of creme brûlée cheese cake. Everything was delicious but definitely expensive.

The Brussels sprouts that I ordered at Skyland wayside.

Creme brûlée cheesecake from Skyland wayside.

While we ate our delicious dinner we got to watch a unbelievable sunset. Guests staying at the skyland lodge were all coming out to watch it too. It was absolutely beautiful. We sat out and watched as the sun fully set and it began to get dark. Then we set out to find a place to stealth camp nearby. There was a Starbucks inside the skyland that opened early in the morning. So we figured we would camp nearby so that we could go there in the morning before hiking out.

The sunset from the patio at Skyland wayside.

Eating cheesecake and watching the sunset.

Fortunately there was a wooded area very close by that where we were able to set up our tents. We couldn’t help but laugh at what a ridiculous site it was. Once all of us got set up we hung out briefly and then all headed to bed around 9:45pm.

A beautiful sunset in Shenandoah National Park.

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Comments 3

  • thetentman : Jul 9th

    Nice post.


  • marsh : Jul 9th

    John Muir sometimes slept in graveyards on his Thousand Mile Walk to the Gulf because nobody ever bothered him there.

  • Charlotte : Jul 9th

    Congratulations on making it half-way from Bama to Baxter Peg Leg! It’s always wonderful to read your posts. The addition of caterpillars on trail is interesting. Do any of you know if they eventually become butterflies? Your posts are fun and always so upbeat! Thank you 😊


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