Rock Spring Hut to Pass Mountain Hut
Miles Hiked: 15.3
AT Milage: 945.0
Last night I slept okay. Randy left the shelter at 3:30am to start hiking because he just couldn’t sleep. Broadweigh and I made a plan to hitch hike into the town of Luray and then get back to the trail as soon as possible to camp at a shelter. Broadweigh wanted to buy tobacco but I just wanted to charge my phone. My Anker battery pack died for only the second time on the whole trail and my phone had been at less than 50% battery for two days now. I didn’t get on the internet almost all week and barely texted to conserve battery. I did save it for some longer phone calls, offline blog writting, and picture taking though. We wanted to get to Thorton gap around 2pm which was almost fourteen miles away. Even though my feet were killing me I hiked as fast as I could taking short strategic breaks to take off my shoes, use my golf ball, and do stretches. We passed by Stony Man cliffs which were pretty cool. I took a longer break at Byrd’s
Nest Shelter where we ran into a family of two fathers and their sons out hiking the entire AT in Shenandoah National Park Southbound together. They were waiting for over an hour on the one father who apparently was hiking slower than one mile per hour. They were very frustrated and it seemed like Broadweigh and I never passed the guy while we continued north. I felt bad for the poor guy falling way behind.
When we got to Thorton Gap I was surprised to run into Randy because he left the shelter so early. I think he just hikes super slow too. Randy was already getting a ride into town so Broadweigh and I were able to hop in the back of the truck bed to get a ride too. It was an easy hitch! On the way into town it seemed like we were going a far way from the trail. The town of Luray is said to be 9 miles away from the trail in my guide book. I think this was my longest hitch. It started raining while we were still in the back but we were glad we didn’t have to hike in it. At town, we got dropped off at the post office. Broadweigh and I walked to the local outfitter, Appalachian Outfitters, to get information about the quickest way to the tobacco shop and where a good place was to sit and charge our phones. Jack, the owner offered us a ride to the shop and back to the trail so we took him up on it! Broadweigh went to the tobacco store to buy what he needed and I went to Taco Bell to charge my phone. When I got there my wall charger wouldn’t fit into their outlets because they had a plastic plate blocking my prongs from going all the way into the holes. I was so frustrated because the only reason I left the trail in the first place was to charge my phone. I guessed I would have to wait one to two more days to charge my things and continue to conserve battery. Jack picked us up from Taco Bell at 4pm and let me use his car charger while he drove us back to the trail so I got my battery back up to 40%.
When we got back on trail, it was raining, but we only had to hike about 1.5 miles to the shelter. At the shelter I met a ridge runner named Pegleg. She just retired this year and then took a 4 month assignment working for the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club as a ridge runner in Shenandoah. She goes out into the field for five days at a time and then takes two days off. She and a partner who are staggered out, hike Southbound on the AT in a continuous loop in the park to interact with all the Northbound hikers and manage/watch over the larger tourist attraction views that recieve a lot more impact from people. Peg leg talked to me about my feet because she had bad plantar fasciitis for a long time. She did an AT thru hike in 2000, but never got it while on her hike. It was cool to hear about how different the trail was in 2000 compared to now. As far as the hiking population goes, she said there were a lot less people on the trail, and that the 30-55 year old age group wasn’t present on the trail except for her. There were two very disticnt groups of people; retired people and younger people right out of highschool or college. This is what I was expecting to find on the trail this year, but I have found that people in the age range of 30-50 seem to be the most prominent age group. Another reason I was so excited to talk to Pegleg is because I have been the only woman at camp for a few days now. At 7:30 she was off the clock so she went to camp in her tent alone, but it was nice talking to her!
I didn’t sleep at all this night except for maybe two hours. My feet were in way too much pain for me to fall asleep. It feels like I have a continuous sharp stabbing pain all over that doesn’t subside. When I try to relax it feels like I can feel my heart beating in my soles. Sometime around 2am there were bats in the shelter making a very loud screeching sound. I thought it was mice. In my groggy state I didn’t think about how much louder the bats were being than mice would sound. All of a sudden Broadweigh jumped down from the top bunk to sleep on the bottom with Frog, Hat Trick, and myself. I turned on my headlamp and saw the bats flying all around. It thunder stormed and rained really hard all night. I was happy to be dry!