Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Shenandoahs and Shenanigans


Farewell to the Shenandoah National Park! We are happy and sad. Happy because we're getting closer and closer to Harpers Ferry, WV which is just 3 hiking days away. Happy because Harpers Ferry is known as the "psychological halfway point" because it takes you out of the 547-mile stretch through Virginia and puts you at mile marker 1,000. Amazing! Yeehaw!! But sad because the Shenandoahs will be remembered for the views, the mild hiking and the blackberry milkshakes.

Yesterday Brahma, Thinker, Longshot and I left the park together. (Longshot is an old friend on the trail but we reunited with him in the last 100 miles or so. He is from Vermont and reminds me of Glen Hansard. When we saw him again he had traded in his shorts for a hiking kilt and sprouted a red beard). It took us about 5 days to get through the Shennies and overall it was a great experience. Not only did we get to hike with Buck and Fleur the Canadians, the terrain was more moderate than other parts of the trail and while there were still climbs, they were more graded and shorter. This allowed us to do some big mileage days. Every 20 miles or so there were "waysides" where tourists (and hungry hikers) can buy $18 cheeseburgers and the Famous Shenandoah Blackberry Milkshake, which was nothing to scoff at. The AT also parallels the gorgeous Skyline Drive so every now and then we would hop out and get to walk on the road a little bit. Here are some pics from the Shenandoahs.

This is Longshot, Thinker, Dusty, Fleur and Buck on one of the many stone walls that borders Skyline Drive.

Wall walking.
A reflecting pool on top of .... one of the mountains. Can't remember which.

Um, or long.
Motorcycles and bears own the park. Right before we had our picture made with these bikes a bear sauntered across the road.

Our time in the Shennies was marked by sunny but cool days, mounting heat in the afternoon, a serious thunderstorm in the evening and then a drop in temp. Do you see this ominous storm? You can see exactly where the rain is coming out of the clouds above. We watched this until it got really really close. We were at an overlook on Skyline drive and suddenly the storm was upon us. So we pitched 2 tents, threw all our backpacks in one and all four of us jumped in the other until the storm passed. It was kinda exhilarating.

Waiting out the storm.


So here we are now in the land of milk and honey where the Cherry Pepsi flows like wine and the hot water knows no bounds. My aunt JJ picked us up yesterday afternoon when we exited the park and brought us to her and Don's home here in Northern VA. We hit the post office (where I got more mail from Mamaw Owen - thanks Mamaw!) and then took a long drive on the interstate. Coming off the trail where the fastest moving thing is a white-tailed deer, an infinite number of cars whizzing by is kinda euphoric. At least Longshot thinks so, right?

Some of the luxuries in JJ-Land are good - like bacon, cotton and soda. Others are great - like the overwhelming stash of B&B Works shower gel and the internet access. Others are dizzying. Like:

And later today we hope to catch a movie in the city and eat real buttered popcorn. Oh yeah baby. We'll also have to do chores - resupply at a grocery store, maybe find an outfitter to hit up, soak our shoes in battery acid because the smell would power a small village, write thank-you notes to many of the trail angels we've met along the way, throw Don's hand-made boomerangs in the backyard, take a dip in the pool.... I hate chores.

The trail gets better all the time. It's definitely the best when the weather is very warm (in my opinion) and when you have good friends to entertain you as you hike. The hospitality factor is also incredibly motivating, as you can imagine. Laundry mats are one thing, but to crash at a home like this is such a respite from the wilderness. Thank you again to all of you who have shown us such so much support! Mary Lynn, Trena, Carl and Scottie (everyone on the trail kept asking "How did you get your name on a sign??"), and now JJ & Don.

We are sooooo super excited to be reaching the halfway point very soon. After West Virgina we'll hit Maryland for 40-something miles and then - Pennsylvania!

Last I will leave you with a smattering of pics from the past month.

Cooking dinner on my Thermarest.

Green T showing me the flea collar system (that little aqua loop on her boot is a piece of a flea collar to repel ticks). This girl is a beast. She and her boyfriend have hiked the Pacific Crest Trail.
Ahhh, an unforgettable summer meal in Waynesboro and Carl and Scottie's abode.

Stealing unpasteurized milk at Mary Lynn's dairy farm. (Pick, Thinker, Brahma).

A dairy farm at night.
Bridge jumping - I forgot to put these in the earlier post. Even though he also pulled a sweet front flip from this height, in this pic I think Dust looks like a little girl jumping rope. hee hee

I was more pleased with my form!

'Til next time!


Amy said...

i am so jealous of your bridge jumping experience! hey, did your friend johnny thunder get his name from the guitarist from the band the New York Dolls? his name was johnny thunders. hey, when you guys hit pennsylvania, how far will you be from philly?

Anonymous said...

That is AWSOME!!! All the pics are making me wish I was out with you all. I need some mailing addresses, need to send a letter about something. Almost half way there, wow.

Luv U Two, Eli

Lollie Lane said...

Looks like you guys are having the time of your lives and I'm so glad! Sis, you look a little close to that concrete pillar in the river. Just sayin'...

Anonymous said...

Hey Bets and Dust!!
I am still loving sharing your amazing experiences!!!! When you called yourselves adventurists, you weren't kidding, were you? Handstands on cliffs, handling snakes, and now jumping off bridges!! Good day! I have just returned from Cleveland today. Yesterday Mother (Mawmaw), Susie O, and I had lunch at the Chinese place in Lebanon. It was fun. They both seem to be doing okay, even though sad and lonely at times. Both of them were talking about how glad they will be when you guys get home. Well, let the good times keep rolling!!! Looking forward to the next installment!!!
Love you guys!!!!! Jo

steve & amy said...

DEW! & Bets!
Holy crap. I knew I'd find you out here in the intraweb. I was just thinking about you guys and I figured I'd try to find you. Consider yourself googled. I'm pumped for you all. I'm sorry I missed your trip through VA. I would have loved see you. I could write a ton on here, but you're probably wanting to leave room for other people. Nice tent by the way. I do hope you're well. Lord bless ya. ~Steve