Thursday, May 31, 2012

Day 70. A soggy so-long to the Shenandoah NP

Day 70. A soggy so-long to the Shenandoah NP 

Date: May 21, 2012

Day number: 70

Wake info: 0505h near Compton Peak

Start Mile Marker (MM) & Time of Day (TOD): 958.8 mile @ 0555h near Compton Peak

Pain scale AM (1-10): 2

Happiness scale AM (1-10): 7

Hunger scale AM (1-10): 2

Start weather: Rain, overcast, rain, upper 50s, rain, wet.

End MM & TOD: 976.1 mile @ 1555h at Trico Tower Trail. (Actually, I came into the Front Royal Hostel NOBO from mile 963.4 @ US 522, was driven to the Trico Trailhead, and then hiked back to US 522 SOBO.)

Approximate miles covered today: 17.6 miles

Pain scale PM (1-10): 3

Happiness scale PM (1-10): 8

Hunger scale PM (1-10): 2

End weather: Mostly cloudy, drizzle/rain, 60s-70s.

Resting time: 2:40 (includes check in at hostel and drive too slack)

Bedtime: in the bunk at 2320h to journal. Asleep by 0055 

Where slept: Bunk in the Front Royal Hostel

Money spent: $57 ($19 for bunk, $26 four shuttle (but I'm upset by this because I was made to believe he was providing this service to me free of charge), the remainder for dinner and tip.)

Resupply: Yes. There was a 4-day box waiting on me, but I only need two-three days of it because I'm making great time.

Trail conditions: Perhaps 20%-25% of this section is big rocks that make me go slow. The rest is smooth and fastcm. Or would be if it weren't so wet, muddy, and slippery!

Issues with Equipment and Clothing:

  • My Gore-Tex boots are no longer waterproof and I wore my Seal Skin waterproof socks during the slack packing portion of my hike, which occurred after my resupply. Also in the resupply box were my zip off trouser legs, which I reattached. My feet stayed dry (due to Seal Skins and Hydropel) and my pants bottoms did a great job keeping debris out and shedding rain from the boots. I think I'll ditch the gaiters when I get home.
  • The rain was heavy last night. The wind was strong. My hammock was too high of the ground. The rainfly wasn't close enough too the hammock. As a result of all of the above, a little bit of rain pelted my hammock last night but not too much. Still it was worrisome. My pack below the hammock got wet, as did my shoes and boots, because I didn't cover them with the pack cover. I was too cavalier with my rain protection!

Liters of water consumed: 9 Liters

Approx fuel burn time: 0 minutes

Approx. pack weight: 27 lbs

Number of river fords: 0

Number of paved road X-ings: 5 (Skyline Drive, VA 602, VA 55, VA 638, US 522)

Number of road miles: 0.8

Number of named mountain summits: 1

Number of mountain summits: 5

Number of wrong turns: 0

Number of times I stubbed a toe: 6

Number of times I've fallen: 0

Number of bugs swallowed: 1

Number and location of showers: 1 (hostel)

Songs playing in my head:

  • Tomorrow - Enya
  • To Sir with Love - Lulu
  • Feeling Groovy - Simon & Garfunkel

Happenings at home: Unknown

Companions (Assume thru-hikers unless noted SH for Section Hiker or DH for Day Hiker): Walking SOBO on the Trail: Waker, Plus 2, Spock (Doug), SID & Switchback, and a father and daughter team (I think his name was Balls and she appeared to be a tween and I forgot her name.) At the hostel: Scout, August, the Dutchman, Johansen, and Fiefel (the lone female).

Trail Magic: Water and sweet tea was set out by a resident right on the Trail just south of US 522. I really needed the water!

Flora: Honeysuckle was smelling fantastic!

Fauna: An unafraid rabbit on it's haunches, nibbling some leaves. It reminded me of Bugs Bunny.

Vistas: None.

Attractions: Front Royal Hostel - but this may be Mike's last year to be in operation add he is looking to sell and move closer to his grandchildren. 

State of body: Feeling pretty good. Had to hustle today, so knees, calves, and shins are sore. But the hit spots on my feet are the main issue. They haven't formed blisters, but two more days of rain is predicted. I put Hydropel on once in the morning cm. once on the way to be slacked, and once at night.

State of mind: Still positive and confident. Happy to be on the Trail even in the rain. Happy to have a dry place to sleep and a place to do laundry.


  • The rain didn't bother me today. Add long as my feet stay dry, hiking in the rain is no problem. Thanks Hydropel and Seal Skins!
  • I broke up the day into two parts: NOBO to the Front Royal Hostel and then SOBO back to the hostel. I'm my book it says that shuttles up the Trail are free if you stay multiple nights, but I was only planning to stay one night. The owner, Mike (or the Greenpeace Guy), said that he's just here to help and he could slack me if I came in early. I took that to mean that he'd waive the two-day minimum for me, but he took it it mean that he'd drive me and I'd pay two dollars per trail mile! So my $19 stay ended up costing me $45 dollars. And he said that tomorrow he'd take my gear to the Bears Den Hostel, which would be great because I'd be able to hike the tough Roller Coaster section with a very light pack. He neglected to tell me that would have cost me another $40. Mike is very nice and his Hostel was warm and friendly, but make sure you know the cost of all the things that he's "happy to do for you!" Had I known the true cost, I probably would not have stayed here. (Although it was great to wash and dry my socks!) It's my fault. I should have gotten a firm price. But when hostel owners say, "I'll be happy to drive you to town," or "I'll take you up the Trail," without mentioning a price, the implication is they are offering their service for free. I feel Mike took advantage of this.
  • I really had to motor on the Trail to stay on Mike's schedule!
  • The Potomac AT Club maintained this section, but you couldn't tell it! Weeds, tall grass, thorny bushes, overhanging trees made for unpleasant hiking, as did the wet and slippery conditions. The Jim & Molly Denton Shelter was nice, but would have been great if the sun were shining and I had tine to sit and relax.
  • The forest near US 522 was so thick from undergrowth and thorny bushes that finding a suitable place to dig a cat hole privy was difficult with the scant 30-second warning my bowls gave me to find a spot. I had to crawl into a bush just beside the Trail and hold onto some branches to keep from falling over. This point was moot because the branches broke and I fell, butt first into the mud. It could have been MUCH worse!
  • I ate downtown with everyone from the hostel - good times with friendly folks!
  • The infamous Roller Coaster is coming up tomorrow.

Lessons learned/confirmed today:

  • When a hostel owner says, "Don't worry, I'll take care of you," you should inquire how much his caretaking is going to cost you!

Droid Phone Notes: The nPower PEG finally went dead (no red LED was illuminated when the power button was pressed) today. This should reset the processor. I charged it to full (blinking green) at the hostel. I then charged the phone with PEG, taking it from 3% to 4% in just a couple of minutes. At this point the LED was solid green. I'll hike 40 miles in the next two days and see if the unit will charge itself back to blinking green (or 100%).



  1. Chris! I just found your blog. I feel like I've really been missing out on something special. I'll have to take a little time and go back through the "archive". So proud for you and your accomplishments. I especially loved seeing the post for the day that Kyle joined you. It took me back to days long, long ago of throwing berries and planning great adventures while playing on the A-model trailer at Granny and Papaw's.

    I'll look forward to following the remainder of your journey.

    Warm Regards,

    1. Missy! So great to hear from you! You are too sweet to write to me. I miss the good-ole days, don't you? When life was simple and baiting a hook was hard work! I'm so glad to hear from you! Take care!

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