Day 87 – June 2 – 13.4 miles – Gravel Springs Hut to Front Royal VA
Sometime in the middle of the night I woke to the sounds of someone yelling. It was Mr Shoes and he was yelling, ” Go away bear!” Momma bear had come back. I couldn’t see out of the shelter from where I was situated, but I found out later that the bear was right outside. I was too sleepy to care very much. Our food was locked in a bear box and I was on the second floor of the shelter. If the bear started to come in the shelter I would begin to worry. Until then I needed to sleep.
In the morning the bears were gone. The Tramily was looking forward to hiking that morning for two reasons. We would be leaving the Shenandoahs and we were going into town. Flashfire found someone in town to stay with through the web site couchsurfing.com. The home owners only had room for two so Stoat and I reserved a room at a local hotel.
Not long after we left the hut we came across several nice views. They were the last ones we would get in the Shenandoahs and the last ones over 3000 feet for a very long time.
The miles passed quickly and soon we came across the last Shenandoah trail marker.
0.2 miles after the trail sign we saw another sign that let us know we were officially leaving the Shenandoah National Park.
That sign meant a lot to Stoat and I. Way back at the Top O Georgia Hostel, Sir-Packs-A-Lot listed off some major milestones on the trail. At each milestone he would give the odds of completion. A huge percentage of people quit within the first week on trail. The quit percentage would decrease as we got further north. By the time Sir- Packs got the the Shenandoahs the percentage was pretty low. All this is to say, getting to the end of the Shenandoahs helped give us the confidence that we just might, if we were lucky, make it to Maine.
Eight miles later, we were at the road that led to the town of Front Royal. We stood there with our thumbs out and smiling at every car that passed by. When hitchhiking its very important to smile. It lets everyone know you’re not an axe murderer.
After only waiting for about five minutes a mini van pulled over to pick us up. The guy who picked us up was named Doug. He lived locally and would sometimes give hikers rides into down when he wasn’t busy being an airline pilot.
When we got into the car Doug put the windows down. At some point I closed mine to hear him better. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Doug wince a little. It wasn’t until after we got out of the car that I realized that we had just hiked 107.7 miles in five and a half days without showering. We must have smelled pretty ripe.
After getting checked into the hotel and showering we crossed the street to eat at a BBQ place. When we got back to the hotel we found out that Hobo Joe and Kim were staying at the same hotel. We caught up with them for a while and then went back to our room.
The only thing Stoat and I would argue about in town was about what we were going to eat. Stoat liked to eat all kinds of food while I was a picky eater. There was a Thai food place right next to the hotel that Stoat wanted to go to. I had no interest in eating there. After some frustration on Stoats part, we decided to eat dinner separately. He ate the Thai food while I ordered Dominos pizza. Both of us were happy with our decision and couldn’t believe the other had decided to eat what they were eating.
While we were eating dinner separately, I tried to figure out our next resupply point. The next town we would get to would be Harpers Ferry. The problem was that Harpers Ferry was a touristy historical town that didn’t have any food stores.
I must have been tired because it took me longer than usual to come up with a plan.
We were going to resupply the next morning while we were still in Front Royal. We would have to buy extra food and send it to the Harpers Ferry Post Office where we could pick it up when we got there. Problem solved.
After Stoat got back we got some great news. One of our childhood friends would be visiting us in the morning. We hadn’t seen him in several years and we really looked forward to seeing him.