Day 37

Tenting to Front Royal Terrapin Station Hostel, Front Royal, VA – 43.8 miles 

I am hiking just after 5:30 AM. In general, the trail is much like yesterday, which is good because I need higher mileage today. It’s a busy day on the trail with many day hikers and runners. 

It doesn’t take long for my ankle to start acting up. It’s still swollen, tender, and stiff. I try to hold off on the ibuprofen for as long as possible, but I finally give in to pain killers at about 9 AM. That lasts for 45 minutes! I talk to Linds and she calls ahead to the hostel to make a reservation, just in case it fills up. I’m well ahead of the crowd; there are no other reservations.

I make a goal for today that if I get to the wayside before 4 PM, I will stop for a blackberry milkshake I’ve been hearing about. I cover 30 miles by 3:20 PM, so I take the short side trail to the wayside to get a shake (which is expensive, small, and just okay) and to sit for a little while. I get a postcard for Ryder, refill my water, and then set off at 4 PM for the final push to the hostel. 

My ankle is getting really painful. Periodically a sharp, intense pain shoots up my leg and literally stops me in my tracks! I keep pushing along as the sun sets. It’s been a gorgeous day. It’s so peaceful hiking into the evening that it’s well after sunset and almost, completely dark before I turn on my headlamp. 

I take a side trail to the hostel and enter the backyard gate and go into the basement. I finally arrive at 8:30 PM. I eat, shower, and do laundry. It’s very nice to have the place to myself. I talk to Linds for an hour. 

Because of tomorrow’s late start, I’ll have to adjust my mileage plans for the next few days, probably something like 26, 26, and 44 miles to get home Tuesday night. I did nearly 44 miles today with a bum ankle! 

Mike, the home/hostel owner, is shuttling me to McDonald’s and the grocery store at 8:30 AM.

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  That’s a big black snake. Made good use of my trekking pole by lifting it off the trail. 

  Skyline Drive crossing 

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