Zero Day

Waynesboro, VA

I realized that I haven’t taken a complete zero day for one month. And my body, especially my feet, have been crying out for a rest. So Boomer and I are chilling out on this hot day.

A great town – four, yes four laundromats within walking distance of my hotel! Already a cut above my last town stop where there were zero laundromats within walking distance. So it feels good to have clean clothes finally. It’s funny, because the hotel management directed me to walk to what they said was the closest laundromat. And it wasn’t very far.  But I discovered one even closer while carrying my clothes back. And later I found a fourth one – A full service laundromat where they wash your clothes for you – while strolling about town.

Other town services: a nice park where I spent the morning reading a book, a newspaper, and writing letters to my family. I sat in a shady picnic pavilion near a creek, watching geese, park maintenance workers, joggers, tennis players, and a few wild toddlers who kept taking off their little baby-sized crocs and running around barefoot in goose poop while their mothers chased after them. The creek and footbridge were about the same size as the ones at Marcellus Park at home near my house. But Waynesboro is at least four times as big as my home town, so the park was at least four times as busy.

Lots of restaurants within walking distance of the hotel, with sidewalks to walk on, to reach them. I had an interesting experience eating dinner. I noticed a grill with outside seating. I called and asked whether dogs were allowed on the patio. They assured me that would be no problem as long as I came after 7 o’clock when business became slower.  So I walked over at 7 PM. But here’s the dilemma. The patio was surrounded by a 4-foot wall. And there was no separate entrance to the patio from the outside. So I tied Boomer outside and went inside to inquire how to get my dog in.  I knew I could not walk him through the restaurant. The restaurant staff told me that most people just lift their dogs over the wall. And a little later, someone came with a Chihuahua, for which that is a simple option.  I’m not strong enough to  pick up a 48-pound dog and place him over a four-foot wall. But more than two months on the Appalachian Trail had led to some problem-solving practice. So here’s how I did it. Some kind patrons on the patio, a group of three women about my age, handed over a chair. Fortunately the outside chairs were lightweight plastic. I had Boomer climb onto the chair, and we coaxed him over the wall. The women held his leash while I walked around and entered to the restaurant. When it was time to leave, we simply reversed the process: the waitress went outside and we coaxed him over the wall again via the chair. She held his leash while I walked back out after paying. Fortunately, he was an exemplary patron, lying quietly during the meal and wagging his tail at other patrons. And he and the Chihuahua completely ignored one another.

There is also an ice cream stand two blocks from the hotel. I had lunch at a restaurant on Main Street. I tied Boomer to a chair out front, went inside and ordered, then they brought my food out. They had some seating outside in the back, but suggested that I stay out front because it was shadier.

Finally, there are pharmacies, a Family Dollar, a Dollar General, and a Kroger grocery store all within walking distance! One of the best finds from a hiker box was a Kroger discount card. There was a card and two key tags. I took one key tag and a friend took another. And they actually worked. I presume eventually somebody took the full-size card.

So all my errands are done. I’ve even washed out my water bottles and cooking gear. There are numerous trail angels whose information is posted at the trailhead. So it was easy to get a ride into town, and I have a ride arranged to get back on the trail tomorrow.

I even managed to find a geocache today. My goal is to find at least one geocache in each state that I hike through. And I hadn’t yet found one in Virginia despite having been here for hundreds of miles. The featured image shows the location at the geocache.

Trail report

Since my last post, I have hiked down The Priest and back up the Three Ridges. And also on to the Paul C. Wolf shelter. Someone had told me that The Priest was going to be very difficult, and claimed it’s the sixth most difficult mountain on the Appalachian Trail. The other five being in New England. Not true. It was not particularly awful to descend. However, the Three Ridges was rocky, steep, strenuous, as well as hot without a lot of shade. A friend tells me she has climbed that mountain four times. More power to her!!!

Somewhere along the way I spent a night camping at the Devil’s Backbone brewpub. I highly recommend that. The camping area is nice, with the grassy area for tenters and plenty of trees for hammockers. You can use the indoor bathrooms until the business closes, and then there are portapotties. There is a pet-friendly outdoor seating area for use at dinner time. My dinner was delicious. And they serve absolutely the best hiker breakfast for five dollars the next morning. It is served indoors at a real table on real china. Because it’s quiet that time of day, I was able to tie Boomer up outside and eat indoors. But if necessary, they would have brought the food outdoors to the pet seating area. And then they drove the three of us campers back to the trailhead. The food was delicious, the facility beautiful, and the atmosphere pleasant. Someday I hope to go back just to enjoy the brewpub. In the evening, after dinner, a group of young adults invited me to join them in the outdoor circle of Adirondack chairs arranged around a fire pit. So I met some nice folks and enjoyed some pleasant conversation. And they even treated me to a drink.

The Paul C. Wolf Shelter was busy with campers. But there were plenty of camping spots so it didn’t feel crowded. It’s located on a rushing stream. The shelter itself has a porch-covered picnic table and it is a double-decker shelter with windows. The privy, alas, it is one of those where they seem to have run out of materials for the door. So the door is only about 3 feet tall. What’s up with that? Isn’t there some kind of guide book about how to build a privy? Yes, it’s nice to have a view, but it isn’t as nice to be viewed

It also had a bear pole for hanging food. But the big heavy metal pole that you use to get your food bag up is designed for somebody with way more upper body strength than I have. So I simply threw my rope over one of the hooks on the bear pole and hoisted my food up in the usual way. That was much quicker and safer for me. So I imagine that’s what I’ll be doing in the Shenandoahs.

It’s going to be hard to get back onto the trail after lolling around for a day and a half. But my body needed the rest. And I’m excited to be about to enter the Shenandoah National Park. Plus, my boss actually lives in Northern Virginia. So we talked on the phone today, and hopefully we can get together when I get to Harpers Ferry.


 I’m loving my Altra trail runners. Pretty much the only part of my body that hurts is still my feet, but they are much better without those Oboz boots. I have one toe that insists on getting blisters. So I still have to keep wrapping that. Also the fifth metatarsal of my right foot hurts. I’m going to try taping that. I ordered some K–T tape to be sent to me in Harpers Ferry. But according to the K-T website, one of the local pharmacies sells it. So I’m going to walk over and see if they have any when it gets a little cooler in the evening.

Well, off to the luxury of soaking my feet. I bought some mineral bath soak at the grocery store last night. It’s supposed to restore, relax, renew, uplift, soothe, and comfort tired, achy feet. Thanks to my friend AG for giving me that idea way back in Helen, Georgia.

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