Welcome to the Shennies

Day 96

Where did the past three days go?  It’s hard to believe our time in DC is over.  This time was intended to be spent relaxing and taking time off our feet, however in true Hayley and Eric fashion it was a whirlwind.  In a surprising turn of events the game ended with the Nationals winning in the bottom of the 10th inning.  We got back to our hotel later than expected which resulted in a later morning.

We left the hotel and headed for the metro. We entered the tide of people making their way to their jobs, we felt strange knowing this was the life we were living just 3 months ago. We felt reassured this decision was a good one and we are so happy to be able to take this great adventure…even if it means walking into a hurricane!

We arrived by back in Bethesda around 9:30AM, said goodbye to Susi and to our shoes.  They got us through the rocks in Pennsylvania but definitely took a beating.  We normally shoot for close to 500 miles before switching but these we changed our just under 400. We hit the road and after some traffic and other various slow downs, the suburbs where behind us and the surroundings became rural again.

We said goodbye to Kurt at the trailhead knowing this could be the last time we see him until we return home for Christmas. We cannot thank him enough for all the support.  His visits have been fun and have made our lives a lot easier on the trail but we are confident we can make it through to the end on our own from here!  Check out Eric’s sweet new waiste belt.

We started hiking south again with very full packs and within a few miles we entered Shenandoah National Park.  The terrain is very gradual and maintained very well.  However, one minor rant is the signage which is posted on a small metal strip around concrete posts.  Why?  They are very hard to read.  We assume it has something to due with a budget.  What happened to wood signs that are easy to read and used by all the other states?!  This would make sense with the myriad of trail junctions in SNP.

Anyway rant over, we did receive some nice views along the ridgelines of the valley below.  This is our first time above 3000 feet since Massachusetts over 600 miles ago.  We have visited this area before and love the Shenandoah valley. We’ll take the views while we can, starting this afternoon, this area will be impacted by Ian, and will be raining for the next 4 days. We are making plans to duck out the oncoming storm the best we can.

We strolled into our campsite around 5:30PM and met Dragon a flip flopper. She had said our names sounded familiar, possible she saw them in the shelter logs. We think another bubble may be not too far behind us. Since we spent so much time in DC the bubble we had been with in Pennsylvania is a few days ahead. We saw in the shelter log that Cast Iron and Gourmet had been at this shelter 3 days prior.

We opted to tent because this is an enormous Mouse Rat living in the shelter. He came out to say “Hi” a couple times. He was very odd looking, bigger than the rats you would see in the city but more mouselike in appearance. He was cute but we opted not to give him the chance to snuggle up with us in our sleeping bags. We had a nice night enjoying our fresh food from town for dinner and watching the sky change color.  After one day, Eric approves of the waist belt.  It is a great addition to his gear for this and future adventures.

Day 97

With the storm on track to hit this area this afternoon we got on trail earlish to secure a spot in the next shelter.  The morning was mostly clear but the winds started picking up.  Good thing we don’t have to compete with the NOBOs for space in the shelter. Also, with this sort of weather most of the weekend warriors will likely stay home.

We we able to get a couple more views before the clouds came in.  The trail crossed (and will also continue to cross) over skyline drive multiple times throughout our time in SNP.  Since it’s a National Park and the proximity to the road (Skyline Drive), the trail will also pass by several “waysides” which are parking areas with small gift shops, convenience stores and grills all rolled in one.  Just another opportunity to enjoy more food and cold drinks and we will definitely take advantage.

When we walked into to the first Wayside, we were greeted with “Are you crazy?”  We said, “no we’re just thru-hikers”.  The attendant gave us an update on the storms progress.  It is on the same path we had seen but likely to hit the area a little earlier than we originally expected.

With this information we ate our second breakfast quickly and headed back to the trail.  Even though we still had several climbs, the terrain is so well graded we cruised.  Now fully enclosed in the clouds with the winds picking up we hustled into shelter.   This three sided stone structure is sturdy and even has a fire place.  Some wood had already been gathered and we dragged in a few more branches before the rain started.  Not our best fire but with temperature dropping we enjoyed the warmth.  We also hung the footprint (ground cloth) from our tent up to block some of the wind and mist.

We’re certainly in for a cold, damp night.  Thankfully we have our warm layers and heavier sleeping bags. We certainly are getting an interesting welcome to the Shennies.

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