Shenandoah and Northern Virginia

Harpers Ferry and Washington D.C. are just within reach.   Twenty more miles tomorrow and I’ll arrive at the A.T. Conservancy headquarters and get my ‘thru-hiker number’  i.e. what number person I am to have successfully made it from Springer Mtn to Harpers Ferry in 2009. 

I recently finished the 100 miles in the Shenandoah National Park (SNP).  The highlight of this park is two-fold:  Wildlife and Waysides. 

Wildlife:  The deer in the SNP  are quite used to humans tramping about their forest.  This combined with the fact that hunting them is not allowed in the park, they seem to have no fear of humans.   The deer would let me get within arms reach of them before they finally walked away.  When I was at Rock Spring Hut, one took quite a liking to my hat and decided she should take it from the bench I placed it on.  I came back from the spring to find a deer thoroughly disappointed that my hat was in fact not food and she decided to just leave it on the ground.   

About an hour before this occurance I saw a cute little black bear cub in the middle of the trail.  As soon as the cub saw me, it froze for about 10 seconds, gave me a look like “oh my gosh, mom would be so mad if she knew I was this close to a human'” and then promptly turned around and took off into the woods.  I also watched several falcons hovering near rock outcroppings and I decided if I could be any animal it would be some sort of predatory bird.  The way they float through the air streams looks so fun. 

Waysides:  Despite all the wildlife in SNP, it is probably the least amount of ‘wilderness’ I’ve walked through.  I was always less than a half mile from Skyline drive and would often come out of the woods to Waysides.  Waysides are a wonderful invention of the National Park Service to allow folks to get gasoline, food, and camping gear in the park.  Obviously I didn’t have much need for gasoline, but I definitely hit up the wayside grills!  I must have eaten a cheeseburger and milkshake every single day I was in SNP.  Ahh thru-hiker bliss…

I was also blessed to be able to experience this section with so many friends.  Christy visited me in Waynesboro, VA and brought delicious home-made cupcakes for my thru-hiker family.  Paul and Tanner also came to Waynesboro, VA and slack-packed with me on the first 10 miles in SNP (picture 1).  Thanks for visiting guys!

Five nights later, Andy Miller picked me up from Skyline drive and he and his wife gave me royal B&B treatment in their beautiful home in Browntown, VA.  I’m talking hot shower, laundry, sleep number bed, and a delicious meal of fresh food: broccoli & avocado salad, zucchini, fresh bread, steak filet, brownies, strawberries, ice cream…the works!  Thanks Andy and Marjorie! (picture 2 & 3).

This weekend Brian spent two days on the trail with me. He is been the first friend to brave an overnight trip with me.  It was wonderful to catch up with him and share the full experience of the trail.  Highlights of his visit were hitchhiking to Linden to avoid a thunderstorm, arriving to a shelter right before another thunderstorm, finally getting some good weather in Sky Meadows St Park (Picture 4), and a delicious meal at one of my favorite restaurants, Hunters Head Tavern in Upperville, VA. 

Now I’m resting up at Bear’s Den Hostel near Berryville, VA and look forward to the thru-hiker special here tonight:  1 large pizza, 1 soda, 1 pint of Ben & Jerrys ice cream, laundry, and a bunk bed.  All for $25!  Yes, I still am obsessing about food…


6 Responses to Shenandoah and Northern Virginia

  1. Mom says:

    Cheeseburgers in paradise???
    Glad that little bear cub ran away before its momma came to get you!!
    Make sure you get a picture at the ATC getting your number!
    Glad you have had such good company lately – you’ll probly be missing them all as you go thru PA!
    Love you,

  2. Jeff & Lois says:

    Hey Preston,
    Really glad to hear from you again. Good to know you’re getting great food and companionship.

    News from here…we really had a good weekend when your Mom was here. Great Grandma loved having all 3 girls together again. You would have loved Julia’s 4th birthday party. Nonstop activity for 2 hours (until pizza and cake) with 9 little ones running from swings to jump-o-lene to bouncy. It was a blast. We took lots of pictures.

    Stay safe and keep up the blogs. They’re great! Love, Lois

  3. John V says:

    Sorry I missed you at the Bear’s Den Hostel, Preston. That’s great that you visited Andy while on the trail!


  4. Patty Harms says:

    Fun to be hiking with you virtually! Love your stories and your humor.

    The book you’ll someday write will be amazing! Need an editor?!?

  5. Tanner says:

    Preston, great entry, but I’m disappointed to see that the Chinese buffet and the 5 heaping plates of food you finished off there did not make the cut, ha. It was good to see you – thanks for showing us your world for a bit.

  6. Dad says:

    Cheeseburgers and milk shakes every day??

    Strawberrys and a soft bed…

    Thru-hiking sounds better and better! I think I’ll get your Mom and Lizzy and join you for the last 1000 miles! OH wait..can not do..I would not want to go below my current 179lbs from all the hiking. (hehe)

    Take care, Love Dad

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