Had a nice zero on memorial day Monday. Found a taco truck while doing laundry so I had a four taco lunch followed up with some ice cream on a hot afternoon. Ran into an old hiker and told him about the taco truck and went to put my laundry in the drier. Saw him a half an hour later and turns out it was Jacoby! We first met at the Atlanta metro station the night before I started walking. He is a rare member of my first tribe, now liked many, thinner and more beardy. Saw Jedi, first time since Erwin, when new was cooking up steaks for everyone.
The Quality Inn was hiker central. Irish was there and just found out it was a hernia that was causing pain in his hip. Very sadly, that means he is out, on the train back to NYC as I type. It’s a big loss for everyone. Doc and Forward showed up. Hadn’t seen Doc since Damascus but Forward was down with a stomach bug. Didn’t stop us from hitting the Chinese buffet.
Back at it on Tuesday. Doc arranged a slack pack for us, so we got driven out 20 miles on the Skyline Parkway and hiked back in. Hiking in Shenandoah is pretty nice: nicer trails with good grades, no crazy climbs and not a lot of rocks. Not a lot of breeze either, so it was a sweaty day. Got pack to the road around 5, just as 1) Button and Seamster were arriving and 2) Some guy pulled over and have us all a ride! Hadn’t seen B&S since a quick hi in Perisville a ways back!
It was a good slack pack but 20s are still long days, and it cuts down on healing time so the following day is a bit tougher on the feet.
Wednesday, Doc and I got again driven the 20 miles into the park and headed north. Forward needed another rest day. It was going to be either a 14 or 20 day depending. Another hot still day, made good progress but Doc wasn’t feeling so hot. Went to the restaurant for lunch (national park!), which was a nice treat. Ran into some trail magic, and other hikers, at the parking lot at mile 13. Former hiker and his mom hooking up hikers with good and soda. Doc decided he needed a hotel and they drove him to town. I got to the shelter at 14 mid afternoon.
Thursday was good. Up and out around eight and had a good day of walking. Ran into Fuji, an older man who flew in from Tokyo to walk the trail a bit. He is in no hurry as he was laying down, smoking a cigarette. We chatted a bit and I moved on. Stopped at a picnic ground for a late lunch (at 15) and to rewater. Can’t camp there and I didn’t have another five in me to the next shelter. I found a clearing near the trail just before the afternoon rain and thunder got to me.
After dark I heard some rustling in the woods and a couple of grumbles: my first bear! I froze as it slowly rambled through the brush, hoping it wasn’t coming closer. Then it coughed a few times and I realized it was Fuji. He managed to find a spot near me without knowing I was there. In the morning, when I was wrapping up camp, he popped up:”ohhhh..you sleep there!”. I said:”I thought you were a bear until you coughed!” And then we cracked up. I asked a couple hikers today if they saw him. “Yeah, he was taking a nap on the trail.”
Since there was no water or privy, I was up and walking really, around 6:30 to make breakfast at a camp ground a few miles up the road. It threatened too rain all day but didn’t. A couple miles from Big Meadow, I ran into Allie, sitting at a parking lot. Turns out she started the trail the days ago and was still figuring things out. So we walked and talked on the way too Big Meadow, where there is a restaurant, resupply and huge campground.
We got a tent space at the campground for a robbery of $20. But they have laundry and showers and food so whatever.
Met some other hikers at the lodge at dinner, so we chatted with Darwin, Rube, Snuggles and Yellow Bird.