Day 205 – 222: More Virginia & Shenandoah National Park

Day 207 – Mile 1166.7 + 756.3: 5:40am wake-up call is only successful when DOC (Dude On Couch) Aaron Altice, 2009 & 2016 AT Thru-hiker, offers to bring breakfast to the Blue Ridge Parkway road crossing on his way to work!! Thanks Doc for the homemade egg, bacon and apple butter biscuits! You’re the best!

The day continued crossing the Blue Ridge Parkway at multiple overlooks and then on to a very dry ridge line. Met a SOBO family out for a section hike in memory of a sister they lost last year. Then sunset and down to Jennings Creek with Dos Boot to camp – not before some more trail magic from some really cool locals camping there too!! 🌅🙌😎

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Day 209 – Mile 1166.7 + 766.2: Black Rock Overlook for sunset with Booty, 9 Lives and a Mountain Dew. Leave No Trace Paper Airplanes may have been flown and I don’t play games I don’t win… 🌅🌅🌅

Day 210 – Mile 1166.7 + 777.2: Apple Orchard Falls! 100% worth the 1.2 mile side trail! Then The Guillotine which turns out it can hold a person’s weight😎🙌🌈!!

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Day 211 – Mile 1166.7 + 784.9: 95 degree weather means a dip in the James River is in order! Then in to Glasgow, VA to the shelter in town that the town provides fully equipped with hot shower and microwave! May or may not have been a special late night operation to get on the town’s dinosaur! 🌅🌅🌅😎

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Day 212 – Mile 1166.7 + 784.9: Day in Glasgow, VA and at the Natural Bridge Caverns. 105 degree day in Glasgow was a good day to be in the caves!

I drove through Glasgow 2 weeks before when I had a rental car to go teach tennis camp and I blinked and the town was in my rear view mirror!

What a difference it makes to walk into a town, meet the locals (and the dinosaurs), go to the local library, stay in the free tenting area, use the free showers and soak in all the little community has to offer! Thanks Glasgow!

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Day 214 – Mile 1166.7 + 820.7: This is Cole Mountain – it’s beautiful. It’s north of Bald Mountain (which isn’t bald and is a heck of a climb). Saw Walking Bear and Butter Bear on and off today and about 2 minutes after we commented that all the trail magic was over for this year, Walking Bear calls out from the next road crossing, “Sleeping Beauty!! There’s trail magic!”

Toby Happy Mutant Evans was doing trail magic while waiting for his adventure racing team to get in from a training run – that’s 30 hrs of biking, running and kayaking. He said to look out for his team who would be running through the shelter at midnight. Toby trail magiced me new Leki hiking poles as he said mine “looked like they’d been through a lot”. Leki is one of his team’s sponsors – thanks Toby! I woke up at 1am to 2 very skinny-looking guys with the brightest headlamps I’d ever seen and no backpacks. It looked like they were inspecting the picnic table. I called out quietly from the shelter and asked if they were the adventure racing team and they said yes. Turns out they were not inspecting the picnic table but were inspecting my new hiking poles that Toby had given me leaning up against it which they recognized!

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Day 216 – Mile 1166.7 + 851.5: This is Humpback Rock at sunset and that is Rosie sitting next to me:) Rosie is the dog 🐶 of super-talented photographer, Melanie, a friend of a friend, who told me that this is the local spot for a great sunset and so generously came to get me from the trail for the night!

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Day 220 – Mile 1166.7 + 891.1: Woke up to a plate full of scrambled eggs, wholewheat waffles with maple almond butter made by Lauryn and then back to the trail we went! I think the AT crosses Skyline Drive about a million times! Saw Ash and Cubana and then got stormed on. Quick stop at Loft Mountain camp store (met Bob and his dog, Fidget), then on up to a stealth site I’d been looking forward to for days – cliffs on the one side for sunset and ledges on the other for sunrise! It did not disappoint!

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Day 221 – Mile 1166.7 + 912.9: Attempted a 30-mile day today but pulled up short at 22. The trail in the Shenandoah National Park is very smooth but it still goes up and down a lot! Woke up at 5:30am for sunrise and stopped at a few of the shelters close to the trail – resident deer at one. Passed by 2 bear cubs in tree and mama bear at about 6:15pm bringing total bear sightings to 16! 🐻 🌅 😎

Day 222 – Mile 1166.7 + 927.9: Got to the Lewis Mountain campground and dogs barked at me! Saw US park ranger and asked her about her job – Melissa. Went to campground store and saw 9 Lives sitting there! Decided to laundry and told her to throw some in too. Had an AMAZING shower for $1 with a towel and floor towel and there was even shampoo, conditioner and body wash. Put in another $1 for another 5 mins. Got 2 boiled eggs, a sausage, egg and cheese biscuit and a cup of coffee and went to sit by dryer. Finished laundry and took a nap on the front porch of camp store while it rained (thanks for capturing the moment 9 Lives Katie Bigelow) . Put hiking clothes on and left after seeing Fiesty, Inspector Gadget, and palm trees.

Hiked on and saw 2 Kenyan 🇰🇪 girls at bear fence overlook. Saw a bear! Climbed the rock scramble and took some pics then kept going. Got to hazeltop mountain and sat there for a while. Kept going and went to black rock overlook for sunset. Cooked ramen.

Carried on and saw a FOX that barked at me! Thought it was someone’s jack russel then thought it was a raccoon then realized it was a fox!

Came up to Big Meadows Lodge and came down to tap room and heard some people playing bluegrass music. Got a Diet Coke and blackberry ice cream and waitress wouldn’t let me pay!

Hiked on and camped at Rock Spring at midnight.

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