field notes // pearisburg, VA to waynesboro, VA

The first part of this leg was a little weird. We were between bubbles, I guess, seeing no one or almost no one all day and camping alone at night. We felt like we’d fallen way behind or something.

But then we climbed the Dragon’s Tooth and came down to stay at Four Pines Hostel. I hadn’t really known what to expect from the place but it turned out to be a small farm with a big converted garage behind the alpaca pasture full of an odd assortment of beds. We set up our tent near the chicken coop and had a shower and a ride to The Homeplace, a family style all you can eat comfort food place.

We met Kat and Kat and MacGyver and Animal there and hiked out with them the next day to MacAfee’s Knob and Tinker Cliffs and camped with them that night. We lost Kat and Kat and Mac when we zeroed in Daleville a day later, but we’ve been hiking with Animal ever since. I really appreciate his constant good spirits and jokes, especially through this last section.

It’s been very beautiful, but tough hiking lately. We had a lot of big climbs, usually began each day with one, and the 90 degree temps didn’t help either. Also lots of rocks, sharp descents, terrible bugs, and the fact that I was hiking in new shoes that hurt my feet. I might say this every time, but I don’t think I’ve ever been so glad to get into a town. We went straight to the Chinese buffet in Waynesboro and shamefully ignored their polite note alerting us to the presence of free showers just down the street. It was a good try, but it’s really hard to get thru-hikers to walk away from the buffet they worked so hard to get to, even temporarily.

We also did our fastest 100 miles this stretch, and had our most panoramic campsite (at the top of Humpback Mountain). We got to hit up several swimming holes (and even build one). We got trail magic again, for the first time in a long time. So it’s still going well.

I’m typing this from our campsite for our first night in Shenandoah. We’ve been excited to get here for awhile. The terrain should (hopefully) be a little gentler, and there are plenty of opportunities to grab milkshakes and cheeseburgers along the way. And at the end of it lies Harper’s Ferry, the symbolic though not actual halfway point. When we get there, we’ll have hiked a 1,000 miles. We’ll finally get out of Virginia. We’ll be halfway done, out of the south and into new (to me) territory.

So we’re feeling good and ready to see what’s next!