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Begins: Aug 6, 2019
Date: Fri, Apr 26th, 2019
Entry Visits: 11
Journal Visits: 847
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Another Virginia AT Out and Back
In the spring I find it hard not to get out on the trail for some woods time. I managed this 3 day weekend and I'm really glad I did. While I don't have a real desire to section hike the AT, it seemed like a good decision to go south to VA for a hike where I left off at US 522 which is just south of Front Royal, VA. Friday's weather looked pretty wet, so I have to admit that I delayed leaving home for a few hours trying to time the rain. It worked out as I hit really heavy rain for the last hour of the drive into Front Royal, and when I got to the trailhead the rain had slowed to a managable level. The trail was pretty wet and I was amazed at how closely it followed the Skyline Drive and crosses it more times than I can remember. I made about 16-18 miles before dark, and I was pleased to learn that you can camp anywhere in the Shenandoah National Park within a few guidelines, and you just fill out a free permit at a kiosk in the woods. I found a nice camp spot, hung my food and I was out.
The next day was windy, but warm and sunny. Oh how nice to hike in the sun with shorts and short sleeves! I was going to turn around at Thorton Gap, but arrived there early and was curious about the other side and Mary's Rock. There was a major parking area so the nice day and proximity to DC had a lot of day hikers on the trail. It was about a 2 mile climb to Mary's Rock that had a nice windy overlook with about 50 people on it. I found a secluded spot just off the summit to rest and lunch in the shade. I passed my share of hikers on the way up and down, and was grateful for my level of conditioning.
Headed northbound, I contemplated how far I might go as the Mary Rock adventure was a bit of a stretch added to my hike. At an afternoon break I met a thru hiker, Lightfoot who started Feb. 28th. We talked a great deal over the next few miles and I learned that he was studying engineering and took a semester off to hike the AT. We stopped by a Wayside for a bit to eat that turned into a feast as we were joined by Recon and Citirus, two of Lightfoots friends. It was fun to hang with them for a bit before I took off up trail. I ended up in about the same spot as I camped the night before. I was in my tent as I heard Lightfoot and crew roll by. The cheeseburger, fires, icecream, and milkshake put me into a food comma for the night.
I slept in to about 7am and got on the trail with only about 16 or so miles to do. I stopped for lunch along the trail near Compton Gap which had a parking lot full of cars. I had my shoes off and was well into my tuna sandwich when I saw a black bear coming at me from the woods. I got up and shouted at the bear with no response. I got my trekking poles and banged them over my head with more yelling. This time the bear turned and took 3-4 steps away from me and turned towards me and sat down. I realized that the bear had seen all these moves and more and just wanted my food, so I packed up and went down the trail. As far as I could tell, the bear didn't follow me or go towards where I was eating. I saw a dog about .2 miles down the trail. When I met the owners, I recommended they put their dog on a leash and alerted them to the bear sighting. The people were pretty agitated about the bear. I didn't mean to alarm them, but told them how off leash dogs are the number one reason for bear encounters.
In a few miles from my truck, I ran into Lightfoot again and we hiked together to my truck. I wished him well and encouraged him to finish. I got in my truck and headed home after another nice weekend of 60 miles in the woods!
Jim's Nobo CDT Journey
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