Shenandoah National Park Well, I’m about halfway through Shenandoah. It’s been hot and dry, meaning both Boomer and I have to carry a lot more water then we’d like. But at least some nighttime thunderstorms have kept the various springs and creeks flowing. And while I’ll grant that many of the trails are very nice, there are still some rocky areas. I’ve been able to manage to average over 15 miles a day, which is my goal . 20 miles is just too much for me to remain happy. I did 20 miles one day, because there was a 12 mile stretch without available water. As I write this, I am spending a rest day in Luray, Virginia: shower, laundry, food, and haircut. There is a new (opened February) barbershop in town. It is perfect for through hikers. They do men’s and women’s haircuts as well as beard trims. It’s all on a walk in basis, no appointments needed. The proprietor, Sheila, is very nice. Main Street Barber at 302 Main St., next to the Budget Inn.
I’ve also tried to ruthlessly eliminate any extra weight from my backpack. So clothes (convertible pants, wool undershirt, etc.) that I haven’t worn in a while were mailed back. I also purchased a second pair of shorts. With pockets! Yay!
My Altra trail runners, which I love dearly, have sprung a hole at about 400 miles. By the time I realized that, it was too late to have replacements shipped to Luray to arrive while I’m here. So hopefully the old pair can make it another 27 miles to Front Royal. In the worst case, I suppose I can duct tape them and/or hike in my crocs.
I’ve also made a hole in yet another pair of Darn Tough (guaranteed for life) socks. The outfitter printed out the returns form and I mailed them back to Darn Tough. But I had to buy a replacement pair. Which is OK, because I wanted a lighter pair for this time of year.
Bears. I must have a knack, because I’ve seen 10 bears since entering Shenandoah National Park. And nearby hikers and/or campers have seen many bears that I missed, so I know I’ve encountered more but just didn’t see them. Fortunately, the bears have either ignored me, or walked or run away. And Boomer has completely ignored the bears we’ve encountered. I think he feels just too hot and tired to bother with them. We stopped at a wayside for a burger and milkshake. A tame deer approached within 15 feet, looking for handouts. Boomer watched the deer, but didn’t bark or try to chase it.
Gear repair. I bought a sewing kit at the dollar store today. Tonight I hope to sew up an extra external pocket that sits on the strap of my backpack. The elastic broke, that attaches it to the strap. So for several days it’s been held on with a safety pin. Also, one of the buckles on Boomer’s Ruff Wear pack is coming loose. I hope that the needle will be tough enough that I can sew and repair that.
Does anybody know of some sort of product for padding the abrasive material of shoulder straps when wearing a tank top? If I was at home, I could sew up something easily. In the meantime, I’ve been sticking moleskin over my clavicles.
People. As you can see from the photo, I continue to meet some very nice young folks. The man in the picture is from Tennessee, he’s 28 years old, and a carpenter. It seems that there was a group of hikers I was with for quite a while, but they have hiked on ahead. As I said, they all want to do 20 mile days but I’d rather not.
I also met a very nice ridge runner. Her name is Lauralee Bliss. Apparently she does a lot of talks about the Appalachian Trail. She’s also a writer. Her husband stopped by the shelter where we were staying. He brought along their dog Buddy. He’s a big sturdy young lab mix. He came from the shelter, where he had been returned by several previous owners because he’s very smart, nd escape artist, and needs a lot of exercise. But she takes him hiking often, to burn off all that energy. He demonstrated his escape skills during the brief time he visited the shelter by gnawing through a leash, and then a rope when he was tied up. Fortunately they also had a cable which he couldn’t chew through. Buddy is exactly the sort of dog that some friends of mine at the KRAMER foundation would rescue from a shelter and train to be a working dog. You can read something about the them at their Go Fund Me page, as they are trying to raise money for a kennel facility. https://www.gofundme.com/spq5gns4
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Try searching for a seat belt cover on Amazon. Padded covers that wrap around automotive seat belts. I’ve used them successfully to repad worn out hip belts.
On the trail you might be able to find a beer/can koozie in town. Pick one up, slice it up and use your sewing kit to sew the neoprene closed around the strap.