Day 36

I try not to get out of my tent until the morning, one because I’m kind of afraid of the dark and two it’s cumbersome to untangle myself from my sleeping bag and find my shoes and crawl out from my tiny tent door. I’ve had pretty good luck thus far but last night I couldn’t keep ignoring the call of nature. Just as I was walking back to my tent a rumble of thunder popped up. I battened down the hatches of my tent doors and scooted to the middle of my tent. The ground I was pitched on was hard packed red clay so the splash back left me a little damp in the morning. I think it’s a good practice to always assume it’s going to rain. If I had pitched my tent a little better I might have been drier.

I quickly ate my breakfast and packed up my things. Somewhere was just packing up too when I finally left at about 9. Today would be my last day in the Shenandoahs and my last 3000-foot climb until Massachusetts. The trail was easy until I started climbing. It was rocky all the way up to the summit and then nice and rolling all the way to the side trail to the hostel in Front Royal. At about the 6 mile mark I saw a paper note taped onto a tree. It said RATTLESNAKE!! I freaked out and stopped dead in my tracks to look closer at the trail. I didn’t see anything. I threw some rocks and sticks ahead incase I couldn’t see it. I creeped slowly down the section listening close for a rattle. After about 20 minutes of creeping I determined the note was old and the snake was gone.

I had chosen to stay at the Terrapin Station Hostel because of the slackpacking deal i read about. Two nights, two shuttles, laundry, shower, and a frozen pizza: $50. When I arrived at 3pm no one was there. The bunk room was in a basement with single air mattresses.

After about 30 minutes a voice called down to see if anyone was there. I said, yep. The owner, Mike, walked down stairs with long wet hair. He had been in the shower and didn’t hear me come in. I told him I was interested in slackpacking and offered a 12 or 17 mile hike. I signed up for the 17. I also said a resupply package was being delivered there the next day and I didn’t need to go to town. The hostel was about a 10 minute drive. Mike said he’d go back upstairs to chill out until the next hiker arrived. It was Somewhere. She walked in about 4 after I had washed my clothes and taken a shower. She wondered how to check in too and was hoping to go to town for dinner. I had hoped that the frozen pizza was going to be enough for my dinner but it turned out to be a very small one. I finally went outside to make a phone call and Mike was out on his deck smoking. I told Mike the other hiker had arrived and she wanted a ride into town. Mike said too late. I was surprised by his answer and asked why? He said he had already had two glasses of wine. There was another group of hikers coming in that evening that had a rental car and maybe we could ride with them.

By 5:30, the other hikers hadn’t shown up and Somewhere and I were getting pretty hangry. We looked into Ubers but it was more than we wanted to spend. Mike walked down to talk with Somewhere about the details of the hostel. As they were talking I proposed to Mike a plan where I drive all three of us in his car to town and buy him a margarita at the Mexican restaurant. He agreed and so we were off to dinner by 6. I enjoyed a dinner of chicken fajitas and listened to Mike’s stories about his work with Green Peace and following the Dead around in the 60s. Somewhere celebrated her completion of a 500-mile section with a margarita as well. She would be going back to Johnson City, TN tomorrow with her husband. I drove us across town for frozen custard afterward and then back to the hostel. I coordinated with the other hikers for the next day. Two were going to aqua blaze down the Shenandoah River to Harpers Ferry from Front Royal, another was going to hike out with a full pack and the other was going to slackpack 12 miles. Our slackpacking shuttle would leave at 8 the next morning. I tucked myself into my squeaky air mattress about 10:30.

Miles: 958.1 – 967.7 (9.6)

Total: 362.3