I hiked through the Shenandoah National park this last week, and had an amazing time. Virginia makes up 536.8 miles of the trail. The SNP has to be the best part of it! I finally found the "easy" portion of the trail here. It is well maintained and generally has more gentle ascents and descents. One of the hikers I know actually hiked the entire park in 3 days (it's about 103 miles). I, on the other hand, enjoyed the park so much that I spent 9 days there.
Chris joined me on a long weekend and hiked a couple short days with me. He was with me on the 900 mile mark, and it made it that much better.
Chris and I also enjoyed going to the nearby Luray Caverns.
After Chris left, my usual hiking crew got a bit ahead of me, but another opportunity presented itself. I had met a hiker named "Squatch" a couple times on the trail. He is doing a documentary on the AT. He skips ahead and does sections southbound so he can run into as many hikers as possible. He asked if I would do a southbound section with him for 6 days. I decided to go with him and help out with the documentary (and by help, I mean do absolutely nothing but have a snack while he works), so I jumped ahead to Harpers ferry and hiked back south to where I was before. It was great, because I was able to run into hikers a week ahead of me as well as those a week behind. I had some fun reunions.
Our first night Southbound, we stayed at the Blackburn AT center. It's a hostel by donation, and they provided a huge spaghetti dinner for us. Rather than sleeping in the bunkhouse, they allowed us to sleep on the screened in porch. The weather was perfect for it. The benches were a little concave in the middle, making it a perfect little hiker nest.
We finished our southbound section today in the rain.
I was listening to my iPod today while walking in a little fog. One particular song reminded me of my friend, Dani, who went to heaven 10 years ago. I said a little prayer for her as I walked thinking about how much she would have enjoyed this hike. As an unexpected tear ran down my cheek, somehow I felt her walking with me for a while. I dedicate my 1000 mile mark to you, Danielle. You would have made a great hiking partner!
Tonight, I am back at the Teahorse hostel in Harpers Ferry. I'm the only girl again, but in this case, that means I get a room to myself. Bonus!
It's great to be here! I have finished Virginia. In the next few days, I will hike through West Virginia, Maryland, and be in Pennsylvania.
I met an angel named Jon this week. He is a friend of Squatch, and a fan of his films. (you can find his films by searching Squatch films. His AT documentary from last year was top notch!)
Jon gave us not one, not two, but three rides this week! He was a great story teller, and it was quickly obvious that he is a genuinely nice guy. Here is Jon and Squatch...I never knew "Squatches" we're so scared of hiking in the rain!
A lot of people have asked lately about my weight loss, but I keep forgetting to mention it in the blog.
I hike an average of 15 miles a day with about a 35 lb pack on my back, depending on how much food and water I am carrying. This burns an enormous amount of calories. Whenever I stop hiking, I eat. We take breaks during the day to snack. Basically, we eat as much as we can, whenever we can, so we can have the energy stores we need to keep hiking. I think Chris was a little surprised at how much I could eat when he was visiting. Haha! When in town, hikers are like squirrels trying to store as much food as possible before leaving for the woods again.
One of the great things about the SNP, is that there are waysides (a term for restaurant) along the way. Just a couple tenths of a mile off trail, and we can order blackberry cobbler with blackberry ice cream, and not gain weight!
I have lost about 25 lbs to date, and gained some muscle in my legs and arms.
Basically, we eat everything in site, and exercise 8-12 hours a day. Not the easiest way to loose weight, but it has been an adventure.
Miles hiked: 1017.3
Miles to go: 1166.9