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.