Over the past few weeks, we've had the pleasure of having plenty of company in Shenandoah National Park, as well as crossing some major trail milestones. All of this has helped lift our spirits and shed the "Virginia Blues" we'd started feeling as reflected in Guyline's last post.
My friends Anne and Sarika joined us in Waynesboro, Virginia for a wonderful weekend. We took a zero the day they arrived and went shopping at Target, had dinner at Outback, and saw a movie. These may seem like pretty routine activities but it was very, very different for us. The movie theater was packed (Friday night), and I almost had a meltdown waiting in a crowded line for popcorn.....it has been three months since I've been so close to so many people. Luckily, Anne has volunteered to create "Transition Plans" for Guyline and I to help us assimilate back into society after the trail. After witnessing Guyline's new beard length and habit for using a bandana hanky, she concluded that his plan may require a significantly longer time period than mine.
After our day of relaxing, we hit the trail where Anne and Sarika got the full AT experience and shared our first two days in Shenandoah National Park. They received the trail names "Eclipse" (for Anne's giant backpack that blocked the view of anyone behind her) and "Lockstep" (for the two giant, metal padlocks hanging off of Sarika's pack that we somehow missed in her shakedown). They saw a black bear and a barred owl, spent the night at a shelter, tasted how cold and delicious mountain spring water is, ate wild blueberries, and enjoyed a few vistas. We were so excited to share our trail life with friends.
|Lockstep picking wild blueberries....yum!|
|Check out the size of that pack on Eclipse! These ladies mean business.|
|Beautiful sunset over the Shenandoah Valley|
After the visit from Andrew and Deb, we started seeing what looked like smoke in the distance. It turns out that the Shennies were following suit with the rest of the country, and lightning had started a forest fire in the park. The next day, the trail was re-routed around the fire and we had to walk 5 miles on Skyline Drive instead.
|View of the Shenandoah forest fires from a safe distance|
|The trail was diverted for 5 miles around the fires|
Guyline's family met us shortly after we finished "the Shennies".......despite the huge storms, power outages, and a gas shortage, Terry, Tony, Amy and Jeff made their way to Front Royal, Virgina where we spent a few days visiting. The highlight of the trip was a quaint Italian restaurant with delicious food and wine.
|Enjoying some Italian with the Italians|
Since all of our visits, we've hit some huge milestones. We've finished Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland, and we're now about a quarter of the way through Pennsylvania. We've crossed the 1,000 mile mark and now the halfway point (YES!!!!!), and are feeling like we're now counting down the miles. We had a personal heat record of hiking in 104 degree heat, and are glad that the heatwave finally broke. We are so thankful for the 85 degree days we have now.
|West Virgina and 1,000 miles....all in the same day!|
|Halfway! Thank goodness.|
That's all for now......if you take one thing away from this post, take this: we love company and you should all come visit us!