5/21 Zero in Stephens City
Today was a busy zero. I woke up and had my first breakfast with our hosts. It was delicious. Shortly thereafter my friend and coworker drove in from DC and I enjoyed my second breakfast with him. It was awesome that he drove out to see me and that we got to catch up. After breakfast we went and checked out the downtown of Purcellville. It was small, but there was a small thrift store there where we checked out some artwork for my friend’s office. Sadly he didn’t find anything to his liking, but it was fun nonetheless.
We headed over to a restaurant to eat lunch prior to heading over to Bevo’s other friend house where we will be staying and slackpacking for the next few days. Bevo’s friends have been so generous the last few weeks and I feel lucky to have been along for the ride.
We hung out with Bevo’s friends for the rest of the day and had a nice relaxing afternoon and then they made us a delicious dinner.
After lasting me nearly 1000 miles, my shoes have been retired. They were replaced with a same model. Bevo pointed out that I was walking funny on my left foot and it was because the wall of the left shoe had given out. I am happy they lasted this long, all my other hiking mates have replaced their shoes already.
I also have given Stitch my physical copy of my guide. I have the pdf on my phone so wasn’t using it anymore.
After cleaning my sleeping pad last zero, I decided that it was time to clean my sleeping bag to. I order some down cleaner that the manufacturer recommend (http://www.nikwax.com/en-us/products/productdetail.php?productid=1015). It will have a few days to dry which I am pretty sure will be enough for the down.
5/22 Front Royal Va to Ashby Gap (20.0 miles)
Today was the type of day that we have come to expect out of Virginia. It was cold and raining all day. The river was a complete stream and had numerous 6 inch or more deep puddles. I hit my low point shortly before lunch, but thankfully Stitch was feeling great and helped us all cheer up by singing and telling us about the podcasts she was listening too.
Thankfully, we were only slackpacking today so knew we would be dry and clean tonight. If we hadn’t, I think the day would have been even more miserable. I recorded a short video of the puddles.
We went out to dinner with Bevo’s friends, but I was still hungry afterwards and Stitch needed some more snacks so we went to the grocery store. I was planning to buy a rotisserie chicken for 2nd dinner, but they had sold them all out by the time we got there. I considered getting a cookie cake, but Stitch reminded me that cookie dough was way better raw, so I went over and grabbed a tube of it for 2nd dinner (and some chocolate milk). It was a great choice.
5/23 Ashby Gap to Blackburn ATC Center (21.5 miles)
The morning started out with a very muddy trail from the day before. About 4 miles in we went on the “roller coaster” which is a 13.5 mile stretch of 500 ft up and down. They were pretty much all PUDs, but it is an marker on the trail. We all definitely felt tired by the end of the day.
We crossed the 1,000 mile mark today. It was pretty exciting to think that I have walked that far in a little over 2 months. We also started being on the border of WV and VA which is exciting and we will be done with VA which I am looking forward to.
5/24 Blackburn ATC Center to Harpers Ferry (12.8 miles)
We got a ride back to the trailhead for our last day of our incredibly long slackpack experience. It was a pretty boring morning until Bevo’s boss surprised him about 3 miles away from Harpers Ferry. He brought us cookies and a candy which was a welcome treat. The weather was beautiful so it was a great treat on a great day. It got even better when he offered to put us up in Harpers Ferry for two nights. It was so incredibly generous of him and yet another example of the incredible generosity I have seen on the AT.
We got into town around 12 and passed through some cool Civil War sites and headed to the Appalachian Trail Conservatory headquarters where we signed in and were numbers 283, 284, and 285 of northbound thruhikers (Stitch is getting her number tomorrow).
5/25 Zero in Harpers Ferry
Today was a zero. We woke up, got out stuff reorganized, watched an episode of the Walking Dead, checked out some of the historical sites in Harpers Ferry, sent home some gear and resupplied.
Harpers Ferry is a very cool place with interesting Civil War history. I would recommend checking it out if you are in the area, but there probably isn’t enough to keep you occupied for more than a day or two.
We will be back to actual ‘backpacking tomorrow after a nice long break. I am looking forward to it.
I sent home my long underwear. I don’t think I ever wore the pants and hadn’t worn the top in several weeks. They were my “just in case” clothing that I was carrying as a safety item, but decided that it was now warm enough to send the home.