Best Kept Secret On The Trail
If you ever hike the AT, make sure you spend a night or two at Three Springs Hostel, it’s a wonderful place. The hospitality is unbelievable, the proprietors make you feel at home, essentially welcoming you into their home (the bunk room holds a maximum of six people). The food is great, whether you’re spending the night or stopping in for a resupply. They will shuttle you in from Hog Camp Gap as well as into neighboring towns. Without doubt the nicest place I have stayed at yet! I can attest to the food supply as I consumed chocolate milk, a 12″ pizza, two sodas, Gatorade, 1/3 pound sirloin burger, a pint of ice cream that was mixed with peppermint patties and a great breakfast included with the stay; a ham and cheese omelette, bagel with cream cheese and jelly and a yogurt parfait! Yes calories are king! Self Inflicted Pain
On June 10th I was climbing Three Ridges. The trail climbed over 2000′ in about 3 miles. I was relieved at the top, and headed to the rock lookout. The views as you might imagine were spectacular. So I took a few pictures and as is often the case made some calls because tops of mountains typically have cell service. Then, I headed back to the trail. And, I turned the wrong way and started heading back down the mountain. My story is oxygen deprivation and I’m sticking with in.
My doubts did grow, but I can tell you in no uncertain terms, the trail looks completely different from opposite directions. Finally another hiker was coming up the trail and I asked him what direction he was headed. His reply was north, and my reply was an expletive! Then he calmly says to me, hey buddy it’s okay you just wanted to see that part of the trail twice. As it turns out, he’d done something similar previously, but I won the prize for distance. I ended up walking 1.7 miles back down the mountain. I have to admit I was demoralized. Calorie Therapy
So, I needed to regroup. I had to get off the trail and headed into Waynesboro. And what better way to restore ones sense of self worth than a good ice cream shop. If you’re ever in Waynesboro I highly recommend Klines Dairy Bar.
Waynesboro really supports the hiker community. I got shuttled from the trail to town by Jim “The Gizmo Man” and back to the trail by Tom “Southerner.” All they asked is that I sign their book listing all the hikers they have helped! Shenandoah Standoff
On June 14 I left High Top shelter about 30 minutes after “Fern.” I was surprised when I saw her sitting on the side of the trail a few hours later. She’d been stalled because of a momma bear with three cubs that refused to move off the trail. She was huffing, grinding her teeth and when Fern whistled and waved her poles, stomped her feet and bluffed a charge. With three kids to look after I can understand why she might be grouchy but please, let us pass.
Two more hikers appeared (Dos Equis and O) and even with the four of us whistling and yelling she didn’t back off her position a few feet from the trail.
Only when we started to bushwhack an arc off the trail around her, did she move back. I’m sure momma bear considers it a moral victory that it took four of us to move on!
Later that day as I was headed down a curve and two hikers were heading up the curve a cub went blasting between us. Simultaneously, and with some concern, we both began yelling to each other, do you see the mom, do you see the mom? Fortunately mom did not appear and we continued on our way. But let me tell you, bears can move really (really) fast. Beating The Storm
Although I’ve gotten caught in the rain a few times ( and fallen as a result) I’ve also had the good fortune of pulling into a shelter just before the heavens open. And let me tell you, there’s nothing like a few claps of thunder to inject some adrenaline into the system. Here’s a picture of Gravel Springs shelter, the calm before the storm.
Needless to say the laundry did not dry! However, the storms provided some nice landscapes the following morning.
The hiking in Shenandoah was great. If you ever want to sample the AT without too much stress, Shenandoah is a good place to head. The climbs and descents are not too dramatic and the majority of the time, the trail is very walkable. There are numerous campgrounds and resupply points, so you really don’t have to carry too many days of food. In total I saw four bears on the park.
Although NJ still has the nicest boardwalk on the AT, I did pass over this nice little section today.
It was in a narrow corridor, passing between private property on each side. I imagine some animosity might still exist as I can only assume the land grab to provide trail access. Years ago, the trail was often referred to as the government trail!
Over the next few days I will finish Virginia, pass through West Virginia and move into Maryland. Seeing my son and hiking with my brother await!