Shanendoah Part 2 – Now We’re Glamping, Baby! (Days 74 to 77, Lewis Mountain Campground to Front Royal)
Glamping (verb): Glamorous camping; when rich b*****s can pay someone to do all the work for them.
“Oh Heathcliffe dear, I’m ever so glad we are glamping this weekend. By the way,is the butler done catching our trout?”
Courtesy of our good friends at Urban Dictionary.
Start: Bushcamp short of Bearfence Mountain Hut
Finish: Rock Spring Hut
AT Miles Hiked Today: 12.0
Overall AT Miles Hiked: 927.3
Miles To Go Until Katahdin: 1,261.8
Another perfect night last night, I think stealth camping in the bushes with no other hikers nearby is the key to a good night’s sleep! I was out cold within minutes of lying down around 8pm, and up at 5:15 naturally. The sunrise is coming earlier still, we must be close to the summer equinox.
Fortunately my bear bag was still where I hung it. I was worried it was too conspicuous and a park ranger would come track me down.
It felt good to eat breakfast at a picnic table, instead of perched on top of a rock. Pop tarts and oreos took the edge off my hunger, but there is a restaurant only 8 miles up the trail. I was hiking at 6:45.
It was easy hiking all morning, but that gave my thoughts time to wander. Would I get there in time for breakfast? Could I get eggs? Sausage? What time would they stop serving breakfast? McDonald’s stops at 11 I think. Or is it 10? Would they follow the McDonald’s rule? Do all restaurants follow the McDonald’s rule? Surely not.
The only interruption to my easy hiking was seeing a bear scamper away through the bushes. The bear count is up to 8 at this point, I swear these black bears are following me or something.
I surprised myself, clearing the 8 miles before 9:30am. The pull of eggs is strong! I turned off on the side trail and walked over to the restaurant near Skyline Drive.
Breakfast was still being served! Mmm, eggs.
After breakfast I hung around at my table, charging my electronics and figuring out a new plan for the next few days. I was no longer going into Luray, so I’d need to resupply at a wayside. As I finished my planning, I saw they would start serving lunch at 11. Well, since I’m already here…
Just as I finished eating lunch, Nilla walked up with Chicken Fried! Her plans for aqua blazing Shanendoah fell apart, but she was bouncing back and forth between the AT and Skyline Drive to catch the good views. We hung out outside the restaurant and talked for a while.
A day hiker nearby started talking about rain this afternoon, so I said my goodbyes and walked the last 4 or so miles to the shelter quickly, to try to dodge the raindrops. More easy walking, alternating between hiking near car campsites on the right and scenic ridges on the left.
I was the first one to the shelter, so I set up my tent and stretched. It was only 3pm, so I settled down and took a nap! What a life. Who said thru hiking is hard? This is some glamorous hiking right here.
Eventually I heard other hikers nearby. I debated just staying in my tent for the rest of the night, but I felt guilty not interacting with the other hikers. I climbed out of my tent and went over for dinner, and I’m really glad I did! Lots of hikers I recognized, it was a good crew – Dos Equis, O, DJ Space Gator, Scarface and his Australian girlfriend (?), and a few other section and thru hikers. As we were eating three deer started poking around camp for plants to eat. We watched them and chatted. Tonight was really enjoyable.
I could get used to this kind of hiking. Low miles and food every day that you don’t have to carry in a backpack! Of course it won’t last past Shanendoah, but I’m glad that I am meeting Nard in Front Royal on Sunday. It gave me a reason to slow the hell down and enjoy this awesome national park.
Start: Rock Spring Hut
Finish: Pass Mountain Hut
AT Miles Hiked Today: 15.3
Overall AT Miles Hiked: 942.6
Miles To Go Until Katahdin: 1,246.5
I awoke to a loud snorting noise to my left. It was just starting to get light out, so I peek out of my tent. Oh, hello black bear 10 feet away and staring right at me! You are exactly how I wanted to wake up this morning.
I freeze. What are you supposed to do in this situation? I slowly duck back down into my tent and slip my crocs on, in case I need to scamper away from this bear. He makes a wide arc around my tent away from the shelter, so I go out of my tent and head to the shelter which is packed with hikers. I figure worst case scenario the bear pokes around my tent for a bit and takes off, there’s no way he confronts us all in the shelter.
Fortunately, he didn’t go into my tent, he just loped around the campsite and eventually walked away. I stood in front of my shelter eating a pop tart and watched the bear for a good 20 minutes. What an excellent start to the day.
Eventually the rest of the campers started moving around. I was hiking at 6:45 thanks to the bear waking me up at 5:30. It started drizzling as I was headed out, but thankfully no heavy rain.
Not much to report about the hiking today. I hiked alone the entire day, and nothing really interesting happened. Oh, I guess I saw another bear later in the day. Bear count for the thru hike is at 10.
Around 10:30 I pulled into a campsite with a picnic area, water fountains and bathrooms. Score! Not having to filter your water is a rare luxury out here.
The rest of the day was generally downhill. I went up and over The Pinnacle at 3,600 feet and dropped to Thornton Gap at 2,200 feet. This gap is how hikers access Luray, but I’m skipping town and waiting a few more days for Front Royal. There’s just so much food available at the camp store here in the park that I can’t in good conscience go into town.
I cruised into camp at 2:15, having flown through 15+ miles on the day. I was setting up my tent when I started hearing thunder in the distance. The thunderstorm came on quickly, and I was glad to be in my tent instead of on the trail getting rained on! Fortunately the rain left just as quickly.
I napped and woke up as other hikers were coming into the camp site. There’s a rowdy crew staying in the shelter, but the camping area is about 30 yards or so away, so hopefully I’m far enough away not to hear them.
I’m almost out of food, but fear not! There’s a camp store 7 miles into my day tomorrow, with charging outlets and Coca-Cola and lots of food driven up the mountain in a truck of some kind. Very exciting stuff.
Start: Pass Mountain Hut
Finish: Tom Floyd Wayside
AT Miles Hiked Today: 23.6
Overall AT Miles Hiked: 966.2
Miles To Go Until Katahdin: 1,222.9
Whoops, I accidentally did almost 24 miles today.
We got absolutely dumped on last night. Crazy rain, thunder everywhere, no sleep while the storm was raging outside. I fortunately stayed dry once again, but I know several hikers had their tents flood. Google and Littlefoot were camping nearby and it looks like their gear got drenched.
I was up and hiking early once again. It was a foggy morning of hiking, but I was making good time towards the camp store. I was psyched to eat a burger. (Glamping is really starting to spoil me. It’s almost as if I woke up expecting a burger… dangerous mindset!)
I rolled into the camp store and grill around 10:30, with 30 minutes to spare for breakfast. Perfect!
I ate and hung out with some Southbound section hikers, and before I knew it, it was time for lunch. Well, I have room for a burger and a Coca-Cola!
It was tough hiking out with a full belly, especially because we had a big climb out of the store. I kept having to stop for Coca-Cola burps which tasted like burger. I know I shouldn’t be surprised, but somehow I still was.
I got to my planned campsite at 2:30. Perfect! 13 miles done and now I have the whole rest of the day to relax. Except, for the first time since I entered Shanendoah, I didn’t want to stop! I knew I had to go 13 more miles to town tomorrow, and I wanted to be as lazy as possible in front royal. So, I trekked on.
I soon was overtaken by Peter Pan, who I haven’t seen in a long while! He was slackpacking today, and we were caught up in conversation. I started moving his pace, and before I knew it I was 20 miles into my day! He jetted on ahead and I took a break, but I soon came upon him, Chicken Fried and Ninja at a gap drinking beer. I talked with them for a while, but I really wanted to get to the next shelter, and it was getting late.
I rolled into the shelter around 7, and got my tent set up at sunset. Google and Littlefoot are here drying out their gear from last night’s deluge. I’m excited to get to town early tomorrow, it’s only a little above 2 miles to the gap!
Start: Tom Floyd Wayside
Finish: US Route 522 / Front Royal
AT Miles Hiked Today: 2.9
Overall AT Miles Hiked: 969.1
Miles To Go Until Katahdin: 1,220.0
I awoke to a loud THWAK on my tent. I sat up quickly to see if anything was broken, but it was just bird poop that hit my tent from a high altitude. So that was a great way to wake up today!
Well, it was 5:30. Guess it’s time to start moving!
I was hiking by 6:45, and at the gap by 8:30. Super easy hiking all the way down to the gap.
I got a quick hitch in from a local man who had throat cancer and couldn’t talk above a whisper. You’d think that would stop him from smoking in the car, but you’d be wrong! Still, he was really nice to stop and pick me up. He’s far from the sketchiest hitch I’ve had so far. (Go read my Erwin post if you want to hear a great hitch story!)
I got to the Quality Inn around 9, and they surprisingly had a room available for me! I dropped my pack and went to grab their free continental breakfast. There were lots of hikers feasting in the dining room. Many had aqua blazed through Shanendoah and had some great stories!
I got back to my room and did some mental math, and realized with horror that it had been a full two weeks since my last laundry. I am an animal apparently! That is truly awful. I did my laundry then showered up.
The great part about being in town so early is that I got my chores done super early in the day. I went and ate lunch nearby, then resupplied at the local food lion, and it was still before 2pm. I spent the next few hours calling various friends and family members to catch up, while icing my right Achilles tendon which was flared up from yesterday’s monster day.
I ordered domino’s to the room for dinner, I was feeling lazy. I ate pizza and watched Deadpool on my phone, fully intending to not leave the room for the reminder of the night. I got a text from my friend Ali, who had been rock climbing nearby and was across the street having dinner with her friends! So I went over with another hiker and we drank and hung out for a few hours while catching up. Lots of hikers drinking and hanging out.
Tomorrow I meet my good friend Nard and his lovely girlfriend Kate for breakfast, then Nard and I are taking 4 days to hike to Harpers Ferry! Really looking forward doing some hiking with him.
Until next time, happy trails!
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