Monday, August 27, 2012
This is a self-portrait heading back out from the James River crossing after a couple days of drying out and self-care at my aunt's house in Lynchburg. It was a much-needed recharge and you can tell from the pic I don't look like a weather-beaten hiker with 200 miles down. The James River bridge is a fabulous spot BTW--hard to believe my father grew up just 20 miles from here.
Hiking through Shenandoah NP in October was one big highlight in itself. For the most part I had spectacular weather (except for a freezing squall that nailed me around Skyland) and the leaves were at their peak. The photo above is looking at Stony Man from the south on the AT. Having spent quite a bit of my youth in SNP, Stony Man has always held and almost mythical place in my imagination.
On Halloween day I reached the 1000 mile (NB) mark on the AT--a rather nondescript spot with only this special blaze to give notice. I was late into my 2nd day of slogging through wet snow and blowdowns after the big storm so I almost walked right by it. But the significance finally sunk in: even though it's taken me 3 years, 1000 miles is a long way to walk. I had mixed feelings, realizing that I was closing in on Harpers Ferry and the end of another hike. But I was relieved to know I was near the Blackburn AT shelter as it was another brutal day of hiking.
Sunday, August 26, 2012
I was the first one out, breaking trail for miles on end with wet snow raining from the trees. I must have lost the trail over a dozen times--the blowdowns were so extensive in some places that the trail was totally obscured. It was one of the most difficult days of hiking I've ever experienced. I was soaking wet and overheated, but if I stopped for more than a few minutes the temps were only int he 30s so it was cold.
My brother Joel met me at the Rt 7 crossing but I was several hours late, it was such slow going. We had a snack and chat but I had to move on as dark was approaching. I ended up hiking 2 hours by headlamp to find the shelter that night. I can't tell you how glad I was to find the shelter, exhausted, wet and becoming pretty scared. Even though it makes for good stories I wouldn't want to repeat that day.
As you can see, within a day of reaching Front Royal, things got very interesting. I ended up taking an extra zero day to wait out the storm which wasn't so bad since I had Patty as company and some decent amenities in Front Royal. The little downtown had a couple good restaurants, a local coffee shop and an AA club so I was all set. Just anxious about the storm.