First off, I’d like to thank my worldwide audience. Yes, I said worldwide. Apparently, I have some big fans in Russia! And a bunch of Spaniards, and even an Egyptian view. Hilarious stuff. I hope you guys are enjoying following an American stooge. Anyway, I thought that was hilarious. Check back again in a few days as I’ll update when I’m in Harper’s Ferry again!
The past few days hiking have been pretty good, but long. The previous two days I pulled a 27 and a 25 mile day, so headed into town yesterday, I was pretty beat. But it was all good, because I had some pretty neat wildlife encounters to lift my spirits.
About four days ago, I stayed at the Loft Mountain Campgrounds – a legitimate, RV style campground (I obviously did not pack in an RV, although that would have been awesome). Right before I was going to sleep, I was writing in my journal at my little picnic table. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a doe and a fawn about 30 yards away, and then in front of me another deer about 20 yards away. Over the next thirty minutes or so, the deer came to within about five yards of me as they were feeding and just hanging out. It was pretty wild. Unfortunately, my camera was in my tent, and I couldn’t move about much for fear of scaring them away.
I also came across this pretty cool vulture kind of bird thing up on top of a cliff. Luckily I didn’t scare him away, and I got some pretty neat pictures of him. The second one I took a split second before he leaped off the edge of the cliff. It was awesome – he dropped for about two seconds, then I saw him ride an updraft up and out through the valley.
Then, yesterday, about three miles out of town, I had my second bear encounter! Bear sightings have been rampant in the Shenendoah National Park (I’ve been in there for the past five days or so), so it was only a matter of time before I saw one. It wasn’t a great sighting, but it was better than my first. I came upon two dudes hiking who told me they saw two cubs and a bear. So after making some noise and proceeding a bit further, we saw the mama and the two cubs run off the trail and down into the woods. I was about 30 yards from them, so it was a neat sighting. Again, sorry – no pictures!
The Shenendoah National Park has been neat though. It’s fairly easy hiking, and they have a bunch of things called Waysides throughout. They’re pretty much roadside burger joints. So there are a good amount of opportunities to stuff your face along the trail. I take advantage.
Another big milestone – I successfully pulled off my second hitch, and my first solo hitch. Here’s my awesome sign I made to get into Luray:
I got scooped up by a kid and his dad who own a landscaping company. They were normal blue collar guys – always the best for getting hitches from. Neat guys, and a fun ride into town even though I struggled understanding a lot of what the dad said. So when I did understand a question, and I answered it without any awkward pauses, I was quite happy.
After they threw me out of the window while still going about ten miles per hour, I took my first zero since getting back on the trail on the first of July. So it’s been a long time since I’ve had some relaxing time. Luray is a pretty neat town – it’s got that quaint old feel to it. I’m staying at a much better hotel than I did in Buena Vista. It’s even got enough room to put up my tent! I had to seal the seams of my tent today. With all the rain last week, I started to spring a few leaks.
And lastly, as you can see on the bed in the picture, I got my first maildrop from home!! Everybody hooked me up with some good stuff, and Paul got me a couple awesome Mountain House meals. And… I got a nice little pint of whiskey!
So that’s that! I’m about to head to the outfitter now. It’s getting a bit too hot for my +15 bag, so I’m thinking about making a purchase to deal with that (and hopefully cut down on some pack weight). Then, of course, I’m going to eat a bunch of food! The life of a hiker!