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.