Homer's Travels: July 2019

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Appalachian Trail: Duncannon, PA To Port Clinton, PA

🐻 x 6
UPDATED 11-14-2020

I am tired of rocks and mud.  That is what I'm struggling with in Pennsylvania.  Despite passing one thousand two hundred miles - i.e. less than one thousand miles to go - the trail is getting harder for me.  I would have sworn that the rocks and mud were slowing me down but in fact I was hiking at my normal speed (roughly two miles per hour).  The days just seem longer and that just confirms that hiking this trail is a mind game.

Welcome to Rocksylvania!
Day 110 - I left the Doyle Hotel at 5:30am to beat the heat. The Appalachian Trail (AT) passes through Duncannon, PA and crosses the Juniata river before crossing the mighty Susquehanna.  The sun started to rise when I was half way across and the river was lit up with color.

Sunrise over the Susquehanna River.
The trail crossed a train track and then climbed up the ridge.  Progress was a bit slow due to all the rocks which force you to be careful with foot placement.

I arrived at the Peters Mountain Shelter before noon when the temperature was approaching the 90℉ (32℃) mark.  This was my stop for the day.  There were four thru-hikers napping here planning to night hike once it got cooler.

I napped a little before going down to get water. The water in Pennsylvania seems to be a long way off trail.  The water at this shelter was two tenths of a mile down three hundred stone steps.  I needed another nap when I got back to the shelter.

When I got back to the shelter we had been joined by a day hiker who seemed friendly enough.  Then things went South.  He was a bit religious.  He was a doomsday prepper.  After smoking weed with some of the other hikers (weed is ubiquitous on the AT) he offered everyone oxycontin and Ritalin.   Then he began to get a little hyper, sign of a meth head.  One of the thru-hikers packed up and left after he noticed the man had a service revolver on his hip.  After talking some weird sh*t the guy left.  We were a bit freaked out by this encounter and we all slept with one eye open most of the night.  I have to admit I had a hard time keeping my mouth shut and I was lucky nothing bad happened.  I was careless.

Day 111 - Having survived the night I headed out early.  A ways down the trail I ran into the hiker (Nightwalker) that had left last night.   He had been spooked when he saw the gun.  He also had called the police to report him.  The police seem to be taking the call very seriously.  After the machete wielding Sovereign murder earlier this year everyone is on their toes.

I arrived at the Rausch Gap Shelter just ten minutes before it began to pour.  People crowded into the shelter until it slowed enough to put up tents. I would guess we had at least an inch of rain.  It was a nice shelter with a troughed water supply in front of the shelter.

A full beaver dam with a lake on one side and mud to hike through on the other.
Day 112 - For some reason I really hiked fast today or at least it felt like it.  I was going into the town of Pine Grove, PA to pick up some resupply.

The first part of the hike took you by a huge beaver dam.  Since it rained so much the night before the water was overflowing the dam.  I waded through mud until I got past the worst of it.  There was a bypass path in case of flooding but the beaver dam was cool and the mud washed off.

I arrived at a pass where I hoped to get a lift.  I checked Uber and Lyft but there were none available.  I checked Google and it said if I left right away I could walk to the post office and get there only five minutes before it closed.  If I tried to hitch, which I've never done before, I would lose the chance to get my package.  So … I started to walk. Fortunately for me it was cool, overcast, and all downhill.  I also walk faster than Google predicts and got there twenty minutes before the post office closed.

Purple come flowers along the AT.
It was a big box and the hotel was not close so I called the hotel, something I should have done in the first place.  They didn't have a shuttle but they gave me the number of one.  He picked me up and dropped be at my hotel.  I arranged for him to pick me up the next morning.  It would have been a lot easier to call the shuttle from the AT.  Oh well.  My walk to town turned a seventeen mile day into a twenty mile one.

The twelve hundred mile marker ... done in rocks of course.
Day 113 - This day was supposed to be easy but the rocks and mud slowed me down.  Where there were no rocks the trail went through a swampy mess of mud.  My butt was dragging and my feet were throbbing from all the rock walking.

I was really tired when I got to Eagle Nest Shelter.  I napped a bit and sluggishly did my chores.  I decided I would listen to my body and consider taking a zero day in Port Clinton or nearby Hamburg.

Days 114  & 115- The way down to Port Clinton was rocky and steep and sucked.  I got into town, found the Port Clinton Motel and, while waiting for it to open, considered if I wanted to say one night or two.   When it opened I said I wanted a room for two nights.  It kind of just came out.  I guess my body had spoken.

There's not much in Port Clinton.  The motel, a candy store, and a motorcycle dealership.  All the services are two miles away in Hamburg.  Fortunately the motel has an awesome restaurant (where the smallest burger is twelve ounces) and I'd resupplied in Pine Grove.

Today I climb out of Port Clinton, back onto the ridge line, and back into the rock fields.  I have nothing against Pennsylvania but I an done with Rocksylvania.

Pictures can be found in my 2019 Appalachian Trail Google Photos album.

Total Distance: 1,219.6 Miles (1,962.8 km)
Section Distance: 74.8 Miles (120.4 km)
Section Elevation Up: 9,106 ft (2,776 m)
Section Elevation Down: 9,549 ft (2,911 m)

Sunday, July 21, 2019


Some time is the next few days the page view counter on Homer's Travels will pass one million!!!

Who would have thought that this little blog would be viewed, however briefly, a million times.  It took nearly thirteen years to reach this number.   Onward to the next million.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

I Interrupt This Appalachian Trail Hike For Another Year Passing ... And Heat Of Course

I thought it was tough to hike the Appalachian Trail while I was fifty-five.  After today I have to finish nearly half while I'm fifty-six.

Oh yeah, and it's going to be very hot today so the hiking is on pause until tomorrow morning.

Happy Birthday to Little Hill ... err Me!


P.S. I've met many thru-hikers older than me doing just fine on trail ... and I hate every one of them! 

P.P.S. Just kidding.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Appalachian Trail: Harper's Ferry, WV To Duncannon, PA

🐻 x 6
UPDATED 11-14-2020

This felt like a long time between zero days.  The heat and humidity has become my kryptonite.  They make each day seem that much longer.  I eat less even though I should be eating more.  My discipline is slipping and I am bending, if not breaking, rules I have set for myself.  That is where I am as I push my way through Pennsylvania.

This stage got me half way to Maine, past the 1,100 mile mark, and through another state.  I skipped an ice cream challenge but for once skipping ice cream was the smart thing to do.

The War Correspondents memorial.
Day 100 - I gave the Wife an anniversary kiss and left Harper's Ferry.  You cross the Potomac river on a footbridge that also marks the West Virginia - Maryland border.  I didn't see a sign and a Canadian thru-hiker named Fastball actually back tracked a few miles to find the non-existent sign.  After the bridge the trail follows the Potomac before heading into the mountains.

I stopped for water at Gathland State Park with its empty grave and a large War Correspondents memorial.

I did a 15.4 mile (24.8 km) to a shelter where I met new people like High Pockets, Scribbles, and Lone Bear.

It was starting to heat up and the humidity was high making the day tough.

Day 101 - This was a day full of history or at least it felt like it.  It started with the early morning encounter with a memorial for two dead generals - one Union and one Confederate.  The Union memorial was bigger and fancier than the Confederate one.

I passed a nice campsite where I topped off my water before flinging my glasses into the weeds.  I'd walked into a spider's web, had a spider hanging from my hat, and I whipped off the hat to throw off the spider.  My hat strap must have caught my glasses and flung them off my face.  It took me a few minutes to guess the trajectory of the glasses and find them in the weeds along the trail.

By the way, that is one of the jobs of the early riser.  Spiders weave webs across the trail during the night and early risers clear them as they hike.  It was a sucky job that didn't end until you met someone going the other way.  At these meetings you always thanked the southbounder for clearing out the rest of the trail for you.

Past the campsite was a nice restaurant that, sadly, was not open for breakfast.  Across from that was a nice chapel and historical plaques describing local civil war battles.

The Washington Monument.
Not far past there was the first monument to George Washington completed.  The trail passes right by it.  I climbed the squat tower and took in the view and cooling breeze.

The breeze didn't last long and the humidity and heat were back.  I did about the same distance as the day before but it felt harder.

Day 102 - This was going to be one of several long days ahead for me.  The terrain wasn't terrible and the humidity had dropped so it wasn't going to be too hard.

Entering the North and Pennsylvania - the Mason - Dixon line.
One minor highlight was High Rock with its view and high school graffiti.  Another bigger highlight was the Pen-Mar park and the crossing of the Mason - Dixon line.  I crossed into the North and left another state behind.  I was now in Pennsylvania or, as hikers like to call it, Rocksylvania.  The rocks on the trail would be getting worse as I headed North.

At the end of the 18.1 mile (29.1 km) day I ended in Tumbling Run Shelters which have a snoring and non-snoring shelters.  The one thing that made this place special was the privy which actually had toilet paper.  The lower humidity made this day easier than the prior fifteen mile days.

Day 103 - Another long day with lower humidity.

The first target of the day was the concession stand at the Caledonia State Park pool.  Unfortunately it was not open because they couldn't find a company to run it.  A nearby restaurant was also closed permanently.  A few hikers were depending on those places for food.  Fortunately I wasn't but they would have been a nice treat.

I made a brief rest stop at the Quarry Gap Shelter.  It was a great place.  A couple guys were doing maintenance.  There were flowers and benches. The porch swing would have been nice to rest in but I had more miles to do.

I reached the Birch Run Shelter at 19.6 miles (31.5 km) and was a bit tired.  I met Executioner here (Someone had seen her with her bug net on and told her she was either Executioner or Lunch Lady … She chose wisely).  She discovered a Timber Rattler on the way to the privy.  We all started to take alternate routes to the privy.

Day 104 - Finally a short day.  I hiked a quick 9.8 miles (15.8 km) to Pine Grove Furnace State Park.   On the way I passed several markers for the Appalachian Trail (AT) mid point.  The AT varies in length due to detours and additions so the mid point changes every now and then.  If I were them I would make a portable marker and just move it when necessary.

Half Way Baby!!!
At the park general store they hold an ice cream eating challenge called the half gallon challenge.  It's kind of hokey since you have to pay for the ice cream and all you get if you complete it is a wooden ice cream spoon.  I'd planned to do it for many years but over the past few days I convinced myself that getting sick eating ice cream wasn't worth it.  Instead I watched Baby, Storm Chaser, Fish, Salamander, and Little Debbie compete instead.  Baby threw up but the others completed the challenge.  I ate a pint of cookie dough ice cream and was quite satisfied.  Storm Chaser completed his and then continued hiking - not sure how that turned out.

Hey!  A view!
Red Bush and Choo Choo showed up.  They'd gotten here the day before and spent the night.  I spent some time with them before they hiked on.

I stayed at the Ironmasters Mansion Hostel and visited the nearby AT Museum.  The hostel was part of the underground railroad.  There was a lot of history here.

I actually saw some stars here before I went to bed.  This had been a relaxing day with trail friends and it felt … nice.

Day 105 - The humidity returned as I left the state park.  In the guide book the terrain looks easy but I always struggle on the ascents.  I stop so many times while climbing hills.  It doesn't matter how little the hills are.

The small highlight of the day was a couple of rock mazes the trail has you crawl through - a sign of things to come in Rocksylvania.

Climbing through the rock mazes.
I reached Alec Kennedy Shelter which was my target for the day.  That is it was until I started thinking about the next town only four miles ahead.  I took a short nap at the shelter and woke up determined to go to Boiling Springs, PA.  I was hoping to catch up to Red Bush and Choo Choo.  This was a violation of one of my rules: never push to catch up with someone.  Pushing hard always leads to injury.

I left the shelter and started over the last small hill.  No more than fifteen minutes had passed and I heard thunder.  I reached the top of Center Point knob the original mid point of the AT.  As I started down the knob the skies opened up and it poured rain.

The trail comes out by a corn field and follows fence lines until you arrive at the backpacker's campsite just outside of town.  I called a few B&Bs but they were either full or no longer open and there wasn't a hotel or hostel in this nice little town.

While I was in Boiling Springs there was always fog on the lake.
I put up my tent and walked into town for dinner.  I ran into Little Debbie and The Goat at the bar.  They were in the one town B&B.  I ate a very slowly delivered pasta carbonara before I headed back to my tent.  Oh, did I mention that the train tracks pass twenty feet from the campsite?  Trains are very loud when they are that close.  Fortunately the last one I remember was at 10:40pm.  Apparently I slept through one around 3:30am.  I guess I was tired.

Oh yeah,  Red Bush and Choo Choo had taken an Uber to a hotel in a nearby town so my push just got me wet.  Live and learn.

Day 106 - The 5:00am train woke me up.  I must of been tired since I got a pretty good night's sleep.  I got up, packed up my tent, and headed back into town.  I bought some minor resupply at a convenience store before hiking on.

Am I hiking Pennsylvania or Iowa?
This was by far the flattest part of the AT I've been on.  It was also the most exposed with walks along roads, fence lines, and across pastures.  This was a relatively short day on easy terrain and my butt was kicked.

Our first Appalachian Trail tunnel.
I ended the 14.7 mile (23.7 km) day at the Darlington Shelter with its Taj Mahal privy.  It was nice but not that nice.

Days 107, 108 & 109 - It had rained overnight and it was drizzling when I left the shelter.  It started to pour shortly after.  I met Mojo and her dog Stella Grace.

I arrived in Duncannon, PA soaking wet.  This was becoming a bad habit.  I'd entered the last three towns soaking wet.  I checked into the Doyle hotel.  This place is very interesting.  Opened in 1909 it has hardly been upgraded.  The food in the restaurant is excellent.  It costs $25 a night.  It has no air conditioning.

I was already planning a zero day in Duncannon.  The forecast pushed me to take another day.  They had heat indexes over 100℉ (38℃) forecasted.  I hate weather delays.  I always wonder if I'm being too cautious.  I do know that once again I caught up with people I like and once again I am going to be behind with a new group of strangers.

Speaking of which, turns out Red Bush and Choo Choo were in Duncannon while I was there.  They were staying an a church basement hostel.  Unfortunately we never crossed paths.  Also Red Bush ended up quitting here due to stress fractures in his foot.  I wish I could have said goodbye.

I did meet a new hiker here named Ruckus.  He was a crazy guy.  He "brought the ruckus to the Appalachian trail."  When I met him he had just arrived from the trail in a linen sun dress and a flowered floppy gardening hat.  He'd picked up the dress in a hostel from the hiker box and he loved how it kept him cool in the summer heat.  (Sadly the dress would not survive, tearing when he took it off after a particularly sweaty day.)

When I restart on Sunday it will be hot, humid, water will be scarce, and they say the rocks make an appearance in earnest.  And still I will hike on.

Pictures can be found in my 2019 Appalachian Trail Google Photos album.

Total Distance: 1,149.0 Miles (1,849.1 km)
Section Distance: 128.4 Miles (206.6 km)
Section Elevation Up: 18,433 ft (5,618 m)
Section Elevation Down: 19,049 ft (5,806 m)

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Appalachian Trail: Front Royal VA To Harper's Ferry, WV

🐻 x 6
UPDATED 11-14-2020

I'm closing in on the half way mark.  I crossed the one thousand mile mark and left my fourth state behind in the dust.  I was rewarded with a too brief visit from the Wife and a picture in the hiker's yearbook.

It's a bit depressing that I'm only half way after three months of effort.  The good thing is that it's all downhill from here.

The one thousand mile mark during the roller coaster.
Day 94 - I took a taxi to the trailhead and climbed out of Front Royal.  The terrain wasn't very bad but the heat and humidity cranked up the difficulty.

I stopped at the first shelter, and was amazed at how nice it was.  The shelter had a porch and an Adirondack couch.  There were flowers planted near the shelter. The picnic table had its own roof, there was a horseshoe pit with horseshoes, and a solar shower.  I was there only for a rest and snack but this would have been a nice place to stay.

An awesome shelter with a horseshoe pit and a solar shower.
The next shelter had a resident copperhead which was pointed out to me by a resident hobo.  That's how he described himself.  I've met a few hobos on the trail.  I had a more substantial snack here before moving on.

My destination for the day was Dick's Dome Shelter.  Turns out the geodesic shelter has been decommissioned and replaced by the newer and larger Whiskey Creek Shelter.  I spent the night here with a few day hikers.

The Bears Den Trail Center where I spent the night.
Day 95 - This was going to be a long day.  First I hiked eight miles to the next shelter for a snack and rest.  Then I entered a section of the Appalachian Trail (AT) called the Roller Coaster.

The roller coaster is a 13.5 mile (21.7 km) stretch with twelve ascents and eleven descents.  The climbs are all between 200 and 600 feet (61 and 183 m) which isn't too bad but the rapid succession of climbs combined with the heat and humidity made it very challenging to do.  To add to the difficulty the trail was extremely rocky which slowed you down even more.

I hit one thousand miles during the roller coaster.

I rested at a shelter after five climbs before doing three more to my destination, the Bears Den Trail Center.  The last climb was in the rain.  I arrived at the hostel wet and exhausted.  I stumbled through the questions the host threw at me before getting a shower, a bunk, a pizza, a pint of ice cream, and a load of laundry.

There was a weird guy who walked around the bunk room wrapped in a blanket.  Later on I discover that Red Bush had seen him in the middle of the night standing in the room, wrapped in his blanket staring at Choo Choo and another girl hiker as they slept.  Red Bush watched him until he returned to his bunk.  Scary.

The view from Bears Den Rocks.
Day 96 - I slept in slightly and left the hostel to complete the last four climbs of the roller coaster.  I enjoyed the views from Bears Den Rocks.  Unfortunately my spoon stayed behind to enjoy the views at the hostel.

After the roller coaster the trail calmed down a bit.   I arrived at Keys Gap and made my way to the Bear Feet Retreat.  Turns out I took the long way to the hostel. I walked nearly two miles when there was an unmarked trail 0.1 miles long to the hostel.  It's unmarked because the AT does not allow advertising on the trail so the owner couldn't put up a sign.

I was the only person at the hostel so I had my second solo hostel stay on my AT.  At first the hostel owner's son put me in a bedroom upstairs but this turned out to be the wrong place.  She was not happy with her son.  She asked me if I could move to the bunkroom in the basement and I was totally fine with this.  They had a new dog (Hawkeye - all their dogs were named after MASH characters) who barked a bit but I got a good night's sleep.  The owner was sorry about the noise and confusion and would not take my money.

The fourth state is now behind me … finally.
Day 97 - It was drizzling when I left the hostel. The owner pointed out the side trail back to the AT so I wouldn't have to walk so far.  Soon the drizzle turned to hard rain.  The trail, in parts, looked like a river. The day was a short one taking me into Harper's Ferry, WV.  Finally, after forty-three days, I left Virginia behind and entered my fifth state.

This river is the trail.
I got off the trail in the historic downtown area and walked the half mile to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy's visitors center.  There I got my picture taken and I got my thru-hiker's tag to hang on my backpack.  I looked through the pictures to see when everyone I've met along the trail passed through Harper's Ferry.  Some were over two weeks ahead of me. Harper's Ferry is often considered the half way point of the AT even though it's short by about seventy-one miles.

I talked with other thru-hikers as they checked in including Choo Choo, George, Jesus, and Cakes.  A couple hours later the Wife arrived honking the horn.  She picked me up and we headed to a hotel so I could shower the sweat off.

I spent a nearo and two zero days with the wife enjoying the area around Harper's Ferry, antiquing, and playing spot the hiker.

The Wife dropped me off at the trail in downtown Harper's Ferry on our wedding anniversary.  With a twenty-two year anniversary kiss I was back on the trail north … in the rain.

Happy Anniversary to the Wife!

Pictures can be found in my 2019 Appalachian Trail Google Photos album.

Total Distance: 1,025.5 Miles (1,650.4 km)
Section Distance: 59.4 Miles (95.6 km)
Section Elevation Up: 11,319 ft (3,450 m)
Section Elevation Down: 11,811 ft (3,600 m)

Saturday, July 06, 2019

Appalachian Trail Milestone: One Thousand Miles

"But I would walk 500 miles
And I would walk 500 more
Just to be the man who walks a thousand miles ..." 

 - The Proclaimers

If I am on schedule, today, as I was tackling the first part of the roller coaster, I crossed the one thousand mile mark on the Appalachian Trail.

I'm getting there ...

Friday, July 05, 2019

Appalachian Trail: Waynesboro, VA To Front Royal, VA

🐻 x 6
UPDATED 11-14-2020

Shenandoah National Park.  They said it would be easier and a time to make up some miles.  They were partially right.  The trail is graded better and the hills seemed easier to climb but the heat and the humidity countered the ease of the terrain.

Yes, I got a picture of this one and yes, this is zoomed in a bit.
Day 86 - Stanimal, the owner of the Waynesboro hostel, dropped me and another thru-hiker (Yellow Bear) off at the Appalachian Trail (AT) trailhead at 6:30am.  We self registered so that Shenandoah National Park could get their money and climbed up the ridgeline.

Skyline drive snakes along the ridge through the entirety of the park.  As a matter of fact, the road follows the original path of the AT.  When the road was built the AT had to be rerouted to one side or the other of the road.  This has resulted in a road with beautiful views and a trail mostly stuck in the long green tunnel.  It also resulted in an AT that crosses the road over twenty times over seven days of hiking.

At the first crossing there was a turn-out and George was here having a snack.  George was a girl I met at Stanimals.  We said our hellos and goodbyes before Yellow Bear and I moved on.

Black raspberries - a favorite of black bears and Little Hills alike.
Saw my first Shenandoah black bear.

The first day in the park was a dry one.  When I reached my destination after a 20.7 mile (33.3 km) day I only had an inch of water left in my bottle and I was parched.

As I went through the shelter journal I came across an entry by George.  This was impossible.  She never passed me during the entire day's hike.  In my journal entry I called Shenanigans.

Day 87 - I woke up and heard that a couple's tent had been torn by a bear as it tried to get their pack.  The wife, sleeping with earplugs, slept through it all.  I was in the shelter so I didn't hear anything either.

I left the shelter and headed north until I ran into a bear of my own.  He was standing in the middle of the trail.  He was not budging.  He walked towards me a few steps and I took a few steps back. He took a few more steps and I backed off some more. I yelled, banged my poles together, and blew a whistle.  The bear was not impressed by my display.  It started off the trail but laid down only ten feet off the trail.   I started to inch past it but it huffed at me. I tried again.  It huffed at me again.  I gave up, backed off, returned to a picnic area, and hiked Skyline Drive around to the next place the AT crossed the road.  I have to say that if the bear had been laying down when I first got there I wouldn't have seen it.  Makes me wonder how many bears I just walked past in the last three months.

One nice thing about Shenandoah NP are the waysides and camp stores along Skyline Drive.  After my bear encounter I stopped at Loft Mountain Camp Store and resupplied.  While there I told a Ridgerunner about the two bear encounters.  She thought my bear was probably protecting a patch of berries.  The bear at the shelter got her excited.  In just a few minutes multiple pick up trucks with rangers were there ready to go hunting bear.  I didn't know many details but I did give them a description of the family.  The rangers found the family and got the details about the encounter.  Last I heard camping was no longer permitted at the shelter and the rangers were installing a bear box.

A Vista from Skyline Drive.
Farther ahead I reached the first of three waysides which are a cross between a convenience store, souvenir shop, and a restaurant.  I had a warm meal and ice cream before moving on.

To give me time at the wayside I'd kept this day relatively short but the heat and humidity still made it hard.

Day 88 - My third day in the park was another long one with limited access to water.  In addition to the distance there's was lots of elevation change.

I saw my third Shenandoah bear today.

It was a long slog motivated by low rumbles of thunder.  I stopped at the Lewis Mountain Camp Store and restocked a bit before moving on to the next shelter at the 20.6 mile (33.2 km) mark.

I spent the night with a Ridgerunner and another fast northbounder who I doubt I'll ever see again.

Three different 900 mile markers.
Day 89 - What a day.  I left heading for the next wayside.  Five minutes after I left the skies opened up on me and I was soaked soon after.

When I got to the wayside I discovered the restaurant part was being renovated.  I resupplied and headed to the lodge which was about a mile away.  In the sun it was the longest mile ever.

I arrived at the lodge restaurant at 10:05am.  They stopped serving at 10:00am.  *Sigh*

I made my way back to the trail and stepped on a wet boulder, my left foot slipped, I planted by right foot to have it slip too.  I flailed until I was on my back/side on the trail.  I took stock of everything and I seemed ok.  I stood up and felt a pain in my lower back.

I stopped for water and, being preoccupied with the pain in my back, forgot my water bottle at the water source.

A few more miles and I decided to medicate.  Ibubrophen and Tylenol and the pain became bearable.  I discovered the missing water bottle but had some backup so I was ok.

I ended my day at the Skyland Resort where I had a reservation.  My room/building was as far as you could get from the dinning hall.  This place was made for people with cars not hikers.  This time I managed to have dinner and I replaced my water bottle.

My back was still sore so I called a hostel not far from there and asked about a pick up.  In the background I heard George and another hiker yelling my name and telling me to come to the hostel.  She was dropping off people the next morning a little ways up ahead.  I told her if I wasn't better I would meet her there.  If she didn't hear from me I was ok.

The sunset from my Skyland Resort window.
Strangely enough I rarely see sunsets on the AT.  The shelters tend to be off the top of ridges in low spots and the trees obscure most of the view of the sky and horizon.  In my room I finally got a spectacular sunset.

Day 90 - I was going to do a short day.  I'd planned this before I hurt my back so it was a weird coincidence.  My back felt better this morning but it still hurt when I put a load on it like wearing my pack.  I medicated myself, ate breakfast, and got back on trail.  I decided I felt good enough to skip the hostel.

Despite my back feeling better my butt drug all day.  I had no energy.  I stopped to rest often.  The ten miles I did felt like twenty.  I think I was depending on lunch at the wayside or lodge and when I didn't have either, I had a major calorie deficit. I made sure I ate all my food this night.

Day 91 - I felt better.  I drugged my back and headed out.  The pain killers worked for awhile.  I stopped at the top of a hike, sat on a log for perhaps two minutes, and when I stood back up my back pain was back.  I hurt my way to the next wayside.

After moving the AT they did leave the trail some views.
I took off my pack, ate a hearty breakfast, had some ice cream, and rested at the wayside for a couple hours.  At the wayside I found Jesus (a thru-hiker from Texas who looks just like Jesus), Cakes, George (she's a potty mouth that one), Choo Choo, and Disney.  George had heard about my calling Shenanigans on her and threatened to change my trail name to Shenanigans.  (For the record, George had hiked the road instead of the trail which was a little bit shorter.  She confessed this when I met up with her several months later.)

I decided that the trail wasn't going to hike itself so I put on my pack and headed the last six miles to my destination.  To my surprise the back pain was gone.  Whatever this injury is, predictable it is not.

Day 92 - On my last day in Shenandoah I hauled butt the last thirteen miles.  I ran into my last Shenandoah bear standing in the trail.  It looked a bit shocked before running away up the hill.

I stopped at a nice shelter to rest before making the final push to town.  Jesus caught up with me and we talked about Avengers.  As I was leaving Jesus yelled to me and said the new Spiderman movie was playing in Front Royal.

Downtown Front Royal, VA.
I arrived to a place where I could pick up a city trolley to get into Front Royal, VA.  Turns out I didn't need to wait for the trolley.  Spaceman was getting off trail for a few days and Enterprise Rental Car was picking him up.  I road with him to the rental place and he dropped me off at my hotel.  I was hoping Spaceman would catch up with me but I never saw him again.  Either he was always behind me, he passed me, or he never returned to the trail.

I walked downtown to get a stamp in my AT passport at the visitors center but I was distracted by the movie theater.  I checked out the show times for Spiderman and realized it started in ten minutes so I went in and watched the movie.  Not exactly what I was planning but it worked.  I liked the movie.

I did laundry after the movie.

On the fourth I did my resupply for the next three days and went back and finally got my passport stamp.  I've managed to get stamps for everywhere I have stayed except Gatlinburg, TN and Buena Vista, VA.

I'd hoped for some fourth of July festivities but there were none near where I was and I had a low-key Independence Day.

Today I'm heading back out to face the infamous Roller Coaster.  My reward for completing it will be three days with the Wife in Harper's Ferry.

Note: I've added a bear sighting counter.  My count at this point is a bit lower than most thru-hikers I know. Most are over a dozen.

Pictures can be found in my 2019 Appalachian Trail Google Photos album.

Total Distance: 863.7 Miles (1,390.0 km)
Section Distance: 55.9 Miles (90.0 km)
Section Elevation Up: 12,743 ft (3,884 m)
Section Elevation Down: 13,035 ft (3,973 m)