What’s in a Name?
One thing every thru-hiker learns early on is that everybody has a trail name. Most are earned on the trail, but not all. Some of the hikers I’ve met have names like Dr. Jones (kid from Indiana), Dirty, Lighthouse, Beez and Fortune. My trail name comes from my past when I boldly used the word “propensity” in a sentence with a group of my friends. The name has followed me and seemed like it would be a unique trail name. So, from here on, I’m Propensity.
Day 9 – Thornton Gap to Stealth Camp site (18 miles)
Day 10 – Stealth site to Route 66 (18 miles)
Day 11 – Route 66 to Rod Hollow Shelter (16 miles)
Day 12 – Rod Hollow to Bears Den Hostel (10 miles)
Getting My Trail Legs
Since beginning the flip-flop at the southern portion of Shenandoah, a steady stream of thru-hikers have passed me, many putting in up to 25-30 miles per day. Since they’re in their 20’s, I don’t feel the need to compete, but do want to get to the 15-20 level. After taking a -0- on day 8, I felt pretty good and decided to go for 36 over the next 2 days, which would bring me to the pick-up point for the Stumble Inn Hostel.
Day 9 it was a successful 18, and I was ready to try for another 18 on day 10. The morning started off slowly, as it was 35 degrees when I got out of the sleeping bag. I knew it would be cold. When there’s a possibility of a freeze, additional precautions are necessary. All electronics and water filters are kept in your sleeping bag in order to avoid damage from freezing.
Day 10 There’s a thing called getting a 10 by 10, meaning 10 miles by 10 AM. I’m nowhere near that, but I did do a 12 by 12, even though the trail terrain was really nice… and downhill… and completed at 12:15. But, you get to round up, right? Anyway, I made it to the pick-up point and all was good. If you ever visit Shenandoah, the views around the Skyland Resort are the best in the park. By the end of the day, I left the park. My first milestone!
I finished day 10 at the Stumble Inn Hostel. The next morning I had biscuits with sausage gravy for the first time. It’s a southern staple that everyone should try.
Day 11 – I put in a solid day of hiking and made it to the Shelter. Everybody was talking about something called the Rollercoaster.
There’s a vast difference in forests at the lower elevations. The trees are bigger and everything is greener due to water and nutrients naturally moving downhill.
Day 12 – So, the Rollercoaster is one of the AT’s more difficult challenges. It’s about 15 miles of up and down and up and down. Because of private property issues, this section was narrowed and switchbacks removed. I planned 10 miles to get to the Bear’s Den Hostel. Mission accomplished, and I’m glad to have 2 weeks of hiking before hitting this section.
A Few Observations
- Owls are everywhere. I don’t see them, but they make a lot of noise every single night.
- Mixed in with the hardwood trees are Ponderosa Pines, which surprised me. Did you know the bark of these smells like vanilla?
- When hiking, you often see scat in on the trail. Turns out, foxes like to dump on the trail in general, and on rocks in particular. Check out the perfect placement.
- The spring flowers are popping open. Flowers I pay handsomely for in my yard grow wild in nature. Who would have guessed.
- I passed thousands of PawPaw trees. It’s a small tree with the largest fruit native to North America. I paid a lot of money for the couple in my yard.
Final Sign – Judge For Yourself
Thanks for listening.
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Making great progress Mr. Propensity! Not getting email updates so not sure what I did wrong. Love your profile picture btw! And I had already advised you about sausage gravey and biscuits. I am sure the one at Cracker Barrell are better BUT I am sure you loved what you had all the more! Stay warm. Looking to read about your first 20 day (unless I missed it).
Looks like you’re getting beauty and peace in your surroundings! Pictures are amazing! Stay safe and enjoy your hike. ❤️
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