Day 35

Waynesboro, VA to Blackrock Hut – 20.6 miles

We eat breakfast at the hotel. I had been craving milk and cereal before town, so I eat about seven bowls of Lucky Charms. 

After breakfast, Lindsay drives me back to Rockfish Gap to restart about 9:45 AM. Ryder has a hard time departing again, not as bad as last time, but he still wants to hike with me. We assure him I will see him next week. It takes a while to refocus after seeing the family. It’s hard leaving them. Almost immediately, I enter into Shenandoah National Park.  The trail is smooth and very easy.

I see my first bear this afternoon, my first day in the park. When I see it about 30 yards ahead, just off the trail, I immediately stop and look to see if mother bear is around. Once the bear sees me, it scurries away, scrambling over the downed trees. It is a cool sight. The lone black bear is not real big, maybe 100-pound adolescent cub. 

I get to the shelter about 5 PM. The shelter is at the end of a long downhill side trail. No one is here, it seems kind of eerie. This shelter is far off the trail, and I debate whether to continue or stay. Whatever, I’ll just stop early at 20 miles. A little while later others arrive. Others had seen a mama bear earlier in the day in a different spot. The shelter is full (almost a dozen) and a few others are tenting. 

I realize today that since I am days ahead of my plan, my mail drop is not going to be at the hostel at mile 961.8 on Sunday. I failed to prepare the resupply box when Lindsay came to Waynesboro two days ago, so she didn’t have a box to leave at the hostel on her way home nor make it home in time to put a box in the mail. Therefore, I need to figure out what I’m going to do. I have a few days to figure it out. I don’t want to have her mail it and then take a zero day to wait for it or I could slack pack by getting a lift north of hostel and then hiking south back to hostel. Best case, it won’t be delivered until Monday. We’ll see what happens over the next few days; I have time to think about it. 

Early to sleep tonight and early rise tomorrow.

  One of many crossings of Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park, VA. 

  Near Calf Mountain, SNP. Elevation 2,983′. Mile 864.3.

 A Skyline Drive crossing 

  Easy. A walk in the park. 

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