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Friday, 19 July 2019


The noble art of cheating on the AT un à Way That's more accepted by others.
Instead of hiking through all of Shenandoah National Park and climbing another dozen mountains, one can float serenely (ish) down the Shenandoah River.

We started in Luray on Saturday, 13th, and aimed for Bloomery. We arrived on Thursday, 18th.
Four of us went, two to a canoe: myself, Soulsurfer, Thistle, and Soup. Said canoes were provided (for FREE) by a friend of Soulsurfer, which made this officially the cheapest aquablazing ever and also makes the friend officially the best trail angel ever.

Trent, the trail angel, dropped us off and paddled for a day with us in his own canoe with a friend of his. After we split up, we paddled alone, but when we reached our final destination he drove over an hour to come pick up the canoes, brought us fast food, and then dropped us off again away from the water. And refused any money for it.

Onto the paddling itself then. The first two days were very relaxed, we saw lots of others out on the water, and went past more than a few strange parties on the shoreline. Day one also included our first and only Class 2 rapids on the trip. We got a little wet but nothing was lost. Though no one else wanted to haul the canoes back upstream to run the rapids again...

Day three took us to Front Royal for a resupply. Mostly of beer for the other three. Day four involved a pretty sketchy portage around a dam. To launch the boats again, we expected a boat ramp. We had a bunch of gravel patches, and the options were: into rapids, into rapids, straight into rapids, or into churning aerated water with reduced buoyancy. Obviously we all died and I type this from my watery grave.

On days five and six we actually made decent progress. In the longest day before these, we only managed about ten miles. On days five and six though, we made it twenty miles each. Even though we got washed off the water by a pretty severe storm on day five. Some frantic paddling and a little bit of panicking brought us onto a bit of shore where we managed to huddle under my tarp until the scary stuff went away.

Monday, 8 July 2019

The snake and the marathon

Insert more complaining about the heat until we get to the 7th of July.

On the 7th, dear readers, let us return to our hero. A hero brave, but foolish. A hero who decided to hike a marathon (and a little bit more).

Twenty seven miles from the Priest Shelter, where trail sons were confessed to much rejoicing, to a shelter five miles from Waynesboro.

Hiking poles were shaken, toes were blistered. A sore day, a hard day, ere the sun rose!

For we woke at half five and sunrise was technically at six but there was early dawn light from about five.

Soulsurfer and I embarked upon this marathon. A few hours into the hike, atop a hard ascent of many switchbacks, we encountered my first rattle snake.

An angry rattlesnake. He did not want to move, instead coiling up and glaring at us as best a snake can. In the end, the only option was to hike off trail around it.

From here, we descended again to water features. A lovely little pool with a little stream filling it. Next to a huge pool with a large cataract filling it. Many pools of various size fed by many parts of the same river ultimately entertained us as we hiked through drizzle to lunchtime.

The rest of the day was largely the same trudging along as other days, but Witham added jokes of hiking thirty miles to the road to town and then possibly four miles into town to camp in the Mcdonald's car park until they opened at five in the morning. Thankfully, wisdom prevailed and camp was made at a reasonable time.

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Buena Vista

Oh god it's still so, so hot.

I want it to end.

I hate heat.


I did however get my feet and toesies nibbled on by little fish on the second of July, on the way in to Buena Vista. I've continued hiking with friends, and we ended up getting an Airbnb in Buena Vista, which is rather lovely.
I have however accidentally cracked the protective lens of my gopro, so no videos or photos for a while...

Monday, 1 July 2019

Leaving Daleville

So.. Hot...
I'm melting...

I hate heat.

It was over thirty in Daleville. It was over thirty leaving Daleville. I no longer know what it feels like to not be overly hot.

Heat is awful.

I hate it.

What I don't hate, though, was a paid campsite I found that had a pool and lake. It was incredibly cool and refreshing.

Leaving it was then hot. So hot. Super hot. Heat is awful.

Luckily the towns of Glasgow and Buena Vista aren't far.

Monday, 24 June 2019

McAffes Knob, Tinter Cliffs and Daleville.

From four Pines, it was a short Sunday stroll to McAfee Knob.
A surprisingly hard stroll...
But I got there and had some wonderful views! Spoiled only a little by a woman lounging on the iconic view point for at least five minutes, and so not letting others take photos from the iconic point. Ah well. The view isn't much different from the other promontories.
I then pushed on to Tinter Cliffs which had even more spectacular views, in my opinion. It wasn't quite sunset when I was there, but it was close. They probably weren't worth walking over seven hundred miles, on their own, but they were close.
Having seen absolutely no sign of others out for longer than a day, it was a big surprise to find the shelter completely filled and another dozen or so camping. All told, a nice Sunday.

Today is the 23rd, the following Monday. And I walked through the fires of Mordor. It was ten degrees hotter than it was yesterday. The knle consolations are that it was a short nine mile walk over easy terrain.

Well, it would be easy if I weren't melting...

I managed, eventually, to make it into town. Thankfully, a fellow hiker met me at the trailhead with cold water. He had already been there for a day or so. I've now checked in to a hotel, and just need to navigate a dual carriage way to get anywhere.

Sunday, 23 June 2019

Four Pines

From my last day, finally, at Angels Rest on the 20th, I did a leisurely ten miles. There weren't many views or events of note.
The day after, technically International Hike Naked Day, I climbed Dragon Tooth. Thankfully I saw no one partaking in the holiday.
Dragon Tooth is a smaller mountain, whose actual name isn't dragon tooth but nobody cares
The Tooth itself is a prominent natural monolith nest the peak, that can be climbed. This offers some spectacular views.
The descent down was very rocky, with many scrambles. After doing the hard part, someone had put - as a sick joke - a sign warning of the danger and difficulty I had just travelled through. Great. Thanks. Luckily, I had arranged a slack pack with the nearby hostel so I didn't have tk navigate these climbs with a full sized pack, unlike some.
The hostel itself is.. OK. There isn't much to say about it. The bunkroom is in an otherwise unused garage, it has free laundry and showers, some hanging opportunities for my hammock, and a lot of field for tenting. I stayed there today on Saturday the 22, and plan to leave on Sunday the 23rd of Jun.

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Angels Rest Hiker Haven

So. Angels Rest was... Interesting.

I hiked in on Thursday, had a wonderful zero on Friday where a bunch of us watchers The Lord Of The Rings, and then I hiked out on Saturday. Sounds nice.

.. I ended up going back on Sunday, after camping at a shelter and hiking twenty miles away. So I took a nearo on Sunday. Then another zero on Monday where I barely left my room and watched Star Gate. On Tuesday I did a 20mile slack pack, thereabouts. On Wednesday, we watched Outlander - it was surprisingly good and I'm a little hooked now. Today, Thursday the 20th, I am hopefully leaving again. For good.
Though.. I'm not sure I won't be phoning at the next road to come back.....