Day 101: In which I finally see a bear

Miles Hiked: 13.2
Miles Left: 1293.6
Ending Location: Pinefield Hut, Mile 891.7

I woke up this morning with tons of gumption. That may have been due to the fact that I was looking forward to getting a shower and doing laundry at one of the official campgrounds in the Shenandoahs and then grabbing real food at a wayside. It also helped that once I got on the trail I was treated to one of the first real views of the Shenandoahs on top Blackrock mountain. As the name implies the top was completely covered in boulders so I was able to climb on those while looking off into the distance. It was a good way to start the day

The day got even better as on my way to the campground I saw my first bear of the trip! He, (I’m just going to assume it was a boy ), was nosing around in the bushes and I’m pretty sure waiting for an opening to go raid some tents. He could have cared less about me though. Also, for a wild bloodthirsty killing machine, he was pretty cute. As I was watching him a family came up so I warned then and then showed them where the bear was. The 10 year old kid’s reaction was much like mine, “That’s so awesome”. The trail ran past the bear, (it was a good ways in the woods though which was fortunate). and since I really wanted a shower I slowly walked along the path talking to the bear the whole way. The family followed me but it wasn’t till we were on the other side that the mom remembered a couple of their friends were behind them. So I walked past the bear again and waited for the other people to show up so I could warn them. When they finally arrived they immediately stared taking pictures so I headed back to the campground.

Now I arrived at the shower and laundry facility at 1:04pm. The reason I remember this was they close it from 1-3 every day for cleaning. At that point I was really angry at that bear! I didn’t want to loose two hours but I also desperately wanted a shower. My desire to get clean easily trumped my desire to hit the trail so I ended up going to the general store, eating, and reading while waiting for the showers to reopen. At that point laundry was out of the question unless I wanted to spend the night there.

Once showered and somewhat clean I started hiking again with the local wayside as my destination. I made good time and when I arrived I put in an order for one of their famous blackberry milkshakes. Only their milkshake machine was broken. No problem, I’ll just have some blackberry ice cream instead. Nope, they ran out of that about an hour ago with all the Memorial Day tourists.

Stupid bear!!!!

In the end I contented myself with chocolate ice cream, a burger, and some fries. The chocolate ice cream was surprisingly tasty. In fact I preferred it to the blackberry ice cream when I finally tried some later. Of course I didn’t know that at the time so I was a bit bummed. The hamburger was nothing to write home about but it still was better and more filling than Mountain House dehydrated meals!

That evening I arrived at the shelter just as the sun was setting. I was very happy then when a nice family made space for me to set up my tent. I spent a while talking to them about hiking the AT and then turned in for the night. Looking back at it, it was a good day but at the time I was a bit annoyed at that bear for messing up my plans. Still, the fact that I finally had seen a bear was a weight off my mind since I was afraid I’d go the entire length of the AT without spotting one.

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