Weeks 11 & 12: The Shenandoahs, Harper’s Ferry & Washington DC
Greetings dear reader. I hadn’t realized it had been two weeks since I updated the world on my doings. However, so much has happened. Here’s a quick low down:
- I saw my 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th bears.
- Entered and left theShenandoahs
- Waded through the river the trail became during an unexpected downpour
- Was attacked by 20 slugs (including in my camp shoes) the following morning
- Said farewell to my friend Uno as she finished her 800 mile section hike
- Drank way too many Cokes (but never enough)
- Hiked my longest day of 25.2 miles
- Crossed that 1,000 mile mark
- Said farewell to Virginia
- Became the 590th NOBO hiker to take my picture at the ATC headquarters in Harper’s Ferry
- Tried to begin a hiker trash takeover of DC (didn’t work)
Needless to say, it’s been a busy two weeks.
As always, these milestones seem surreal. I’ve literally walked 500 miles and then 500 miles more. The Pretender’s song is my life. If only I had someone’s door to fall down on (Any takers??) The South, and especially Virginia, has been somewhat familiar to me. I had a vague idea of what to expect. However, as I continue north it all becomes unfamiliar. It’s both exciting and a bit overwhelming. I like to have a general idea of what to expect.
AT purists claim that the Shenandoahs are too “commercialized.” There are too many people and you aren’t truly experiencing the wilderness. Others bypass them by “aqua-blazing” down the Shenandoah River in a canoe. Personally, I enjoyed my time in the park. Running water, food that doesn’t require boiling water to be cooked, and cold drinks (namely Coke. Have I mentioned I really like Cokes??) For those who don’t know, the trail follows Skyline Drive through the park and periodically passes near campgrounds and convenience stores. My stomach loved the Shenandoahs. My pocketbook enjoyed it less so.
However, I saw more wildlife in this populated portion of the trail than the rest of the trail combined. Deer that were unafraid. Several bears. At one point, hiking and chatting I stumbled across 3 cubs with no mother in site. Had I not been informed by my fellow hiker, I probably would have kept hiking on. #oblivious It’s when you’re standing between cubs and their mother that it’s really the most dangerous. In some ways it’s similar to coming between The Mother and me.
I also woke one morning, to find my tent, shoes, pack, generally anything left outside covered with slugs. I think there were 20-30 slugs in my stuff. Talk about gross. Actually talk about really gross. I may have initially squealed.
The Shenandoahs also had a downfall as well. After hiking with my friend Uno off-and-on since Tennessee and exclusively since Roanoke, her 800 mile section hike was completed, returning me to “Training Wheels, party of one.” There’s something nice in having a hiking companion, even more than not having to eat alone in town. Uno, if you ever decide you need to keep hiking within the next 3 months, there’s a place for you on trail.
Writing this post, you find me at Union Station returning to Harper’s Ferry and the trail. Like all town departures, it’s bittersweet. However, town hiking takes a greater toll than trail hiking. In the last day and a half, I have seen every monument and museum that DC has to offer, or at least most of them. The sounds, smells and general traffic has been overwhelming and I’m ready to return to the familiar. Lesson of this trip, while I say I enjoy not making the plans, I greatly dislike not being in charge and not doing exactly what I want to do. I may return to my role as trip planner/tour guide. Also, my hanger is a real thing.
I would like to send a shout out to Dougie G (aka my uncle) for some DC fun funds, as well as Debi Mercer, Kayla Kelly, Dusty J, and Forrest Stone. In both Front Royal and Harper’s Ferry I got serious care packages. So thank you!
Future love/support can be mailed to:
Molly Bybee; C/O Doyle Hotel; 7 N Market St; Duncannon, PA 17020; Please hold for AT hiker; ETA 06/19
Almost to the halfway point!!
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