Thursday–June 17, 2021
Location–Wildcat Ridge Parking, Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Park, then to Wyndham Resorts Days Inn, Waynesboro, AT Mile 878.7
Still had the alarm set for five this morning. The drive to get me on trail now takes only minutes rather than an hour-plus, but it’s nice to have a bit of leisure time in the morning, so we’ve stuck with five. A great cup of coffee, so why not two? A healthy helping of oatmeal and I’m good. Safari has me back to I-64 overpass where I ended my hike yesterday. Steady Eddie’s wife, Tracy, has come to support him for a few days and drops him off. He’ll resume his hike here too.
A permit is required for hikers entering Shenandoah National Park. There’s a sign-in register a short way into the Park and I stop and fill in a form. There’s no charge for the permit.
I’d figured on slow going to start the day, more rocks and boulders. I had that right. A couple miles and the trail moves past the cobby sidehill and settles into more friendly tread.
The trail crosses Skyline Drive at Beagle Gap in a lovely meadow, about halfway for the day. Safari comes up and brings me lunch and a chilled-down Gatorade–and we lounge in the shade of an old oak. Thanks Safari!
The remainder of the day is spent in total enjoyment hiking the groomed and manicured trail. At Wildcat Ridge the trail crosses Skyline Drive. From there it’s a couple-tenths by trail (or road) to the parking area at Wildcat Ridge. I’m still working on renewing my delinquent hiker trash membership, so I hike Skyline Drive, the roadway up to parking.
Back to Days Inn, and after a good hot soaking in the bathtub to sooth my creaking old bones, Safari drives us to downtown Waynesboro for supper, local family-owned Wheezie’s Kitchen. And last, a quick drive through Wendy’s for their chocolate frost–to cap a perfect day!
O gift of God! O perfect day:
Whereon shall no man work, but play;
Whereon it is enough for me,
Not to be doing, but to be!
(Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)
Wednesday–June 16, 2021
Location–Rockfish Gap, North Entrance Blue Ridge Parkway, then to Wyndham Resorts Days Inn, Waynesboro, AT Mile 864.3
Not knowing what to expect today, as to trail difficulty, we stay with the 5:00 AM wake up. Room coffee and microwave breakfast done, Safari drives me the short distance to Dripping Rock Parking and I’m out and hiking before seven-thirty.
I was prepared for more boulders and rocks and here they come first thing, just as I expected, but after a few miles they play out and the tread becomes much more friendly.
Late morning, Safari hikes in on the Humpback Rocks Trail to bring me lunch. The day has turned blue perfect and we enjoy sharing the time together. Dan and Lois from Ohio are traveling the parkway, visiting sites along and they stop to give me encouragement.
Back on trail after lunch (and not twenty minutes later), right in the middle of the trail, a large black bear. Picture time! Then five minutes later, a snake right in the middle of the trail. More picture time!
Four o’clock I reach Rockfish Gap where Safari is waiting patiently.
My hike along and beside the Blue Ridge Parkway is a done deal. Tomorrow I enter Shenandoah National Park, where the trail becomes the stepchild of Skyline Drive. But my memory of the trail from my previous three hikes through the park serves me well–the Appalachian Trail in the Shenandoahs is delightful. Can’t wait!
You can be taught so much,
but the sense of anticipation
cannot be taught.
Tuesday–June 15, 2021
Location–Dripping Rock Parking Area, Blue Ridge Parkway, then to Wyndham Resorts Days Inn, Waynesboro, AT Mile 850.0
There’s one more long run to make up winding mountain gravel roads to get me back on trail this morning. So, we’re up at five. Safari gets coffee going, followed by a fine (microwave) breakfast. We manage to get out and rolling shortly before six. After only one (short) wrong turn, Safari has me back to the Tye River–crossing the suspension bridge and into my climb well before eight.
It’s a beautiful, cool, clear day for hiking, but I soon discover it’s going to be a not so great hike, what with the unbelievable cobbed-up jumble of rocks and boulders. And the incredibly difficult tread lasts for the entire day. I’ve negotiated some very tough trail this hike, but nothing comparable to the scary and dangerous conditions experienced today.
I’ll not elaborate other than to say I wrecked my trekking poles, took three bad falls–and hiked hard for 12 hours to cover 15.6 miles. Looking forward to a better day tomorrow…
Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear.
If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.
(Thich Nhat Hanh)