8/22-29 116.8 miles
Good trail into Shenandoah National Park. I got rained on a couple times but since I made a reservation at Big Meadow Lodge in the park in a couple more nights, I know I can dry out. And I’m doing stints on Skyline Drive, where the original AT ran before they turned it into a National Park road in the 1930’s. The trail criss crosses the road frequently. The road walking is brisk, the grade gentle, the views clear and I’m out of the green tunnel for a bit. The mileage is about the same. I’m no AT purist. Lessons learned on the CDT.
Night 3 I was in Big Meadows Lodge. Strange to be with regular tourists who don’t really talk to strangers (me, am I so weird?), but I enjoyed a late lunch, dinner and breakfast, and took a shower and what a beautiful old building.
I didn’t start walking till after breakfast, 9 am, and went up to the store to get some resupply, then back on trail. The next water source was Lewis Mountain Campground. I saw they had cabins too. I said to myself, “If…then yes” and they did, so I got myself a beautiful little room, way nicer than Big Meadow Lodge and spent a very happy afternoon reading and eating after a mere 9 mile hike. Bad Catwater.
I met Tick in the morning on the way out of the campground. He was getting water and chatting with the campground hosts. Also a Flip Flopper. I confessed all—staying in a cabin, road walking, everything. Because he is more a purist and a quick walker, we wound up at the same shelters (me in my tent though) the next 2 nights before getting the Stanimals Hostel shuttle into Waynesboro for 2 nights. There’s a Walmart and outfitter here. And some chain restaurants nearby. Now out of the Park, Tick and I slack packed about 19 miles rather than take a day off before spending the second night here. That worked.
Kind of a weird hostel setup. The manager has long term renters in private rooms upstairs and several guests who are doing I don’t know what. Right outside the entrance is the smokers area and the manager and her long term renters spend a lot of time there in chairs with overflowing ashtrays. This is not a busy time for hikers coming through but I wonder if this is the same when the NOBOs are in full force. But otherwise a quietish, clean, comfortable place to stay near all the town amenities a hiker wants.