Day 105: In which I say goodbye to the Shenandoahs

Miles Hiked: 13.4
Miles Left: 1219.7
Ending Location: US 522 road crossing, Front Royal Terrapin Station Hostel, Mile 964.6

I keep on thinking about the problem of gaining momentum while on the trail. I woke up this morning in the shelter with it raining outside and I did not want to hike. I procrastinated as long as possible but seeing that it wasn’t going to let up I finally donned my rain gear and headed out. The thought of zeroing in the shelter may have popped into my head.

The hike out of the Shenandoahs was pretty much like the hike in, the trail was nice, (though muddy), and there were no bears. The second I crossed the park’s boarder things changed. It was as if Virginia was welcoming me back to the real trail with rocks, switchbacks and tons of roots and fallen trees. At the same time though, this was also the start of the posh shelters. Rather then simply three walls and a leaky roof many of them from this stretch on for at least the next 100 miles were like mini cabins in the woods. I didn’t stay in the one I passed today simply because I had my sights set on getting into Front Royal, taking a shower and doing laundry. Eating real food at all the waysides in the park may have spoiled me as well.

The last hill before US 522, the hitch point into Front Royal, was dangerous. Well it may have been more my impatience, but it was muddy and grassy and in my haste I wiped out twice going down it. I was ok but it forced me to take it slower which was annoying. Finally after making it to the road crossing I was disappointed to find out it was a horrible place to hitch in the rain. Cars and trucks were driving past at 50 mph splashing water everywhere and there wasn’t much of a shoulder to stand on for the side of the road heading into town. After about 20 minutes of sticking out my thumb I eventually gave up and just called a shuttle instead.

I was picked up by Mike who also it turns out ran the Terrapin Station Hostel. He offered to take me there instead and while I had my sights set on a hotel, I figured what the heck and decided to check it out. The hostel itself was clean with a very nice common area and bunks. The bunks were the weirdest part since they had these oversized air mattresses that were partially deflated so they would just envelop you. They were surprisingly comfortable but considering how tired I was I might not have been the best judge. The bathroom was minimalist and the washer and drier were on their last legs so I don’t think I got clean so much as slightly less dirty. Also there was food available for purchase, on the honor system, so I ate a frozen pizza and some ice cream, spent some time updating my journal, and called it a night.

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