Thursday, June 26, 2014

Day 81-Shenandoah 19.9 Miles In 8 Hours

5:30...I must be insane. As the ritual goes, breakfast, and getting my butt out the door before my eyes are even really open. We only had about a 15 minute drive and I would be entering the Shenandoah National Park! I registered and was on my way at 6:30. The walk up was uneventful and just like any other uphill, then I got into some beautiful green woods and saw the sunrays coming through the trees; it was beautiful. Papa told me I would be crossing the Skyline 7 times, the 7th time would be where he would be picking me up; I came to the first crossing and took a photo. The terrain was up a mountain, down a mountain, cross the Skyline; repeat. I walked through many power lines, smelt and saw many beautiful flowers, and saw a rabbit. There were even some random old tractor seats up on top of one of the mountains, I tested one out. The change of scenery was refreshing, reminding me of being back in Grayson Highlands with a little bit of everything. Next road crossing makes it number 2. From there I went back into the woods and the terrain was great, dirt paths and nothing too crazy up or down. If someone is looking to get a thruhike experience for a week; don't come to the Shenandoah, it will spoil you (from what I've walked so far at least.) There were all kinda of people in the woods today, mostly groups of young guys like a Boyscout or youth group trip. At one point it got rather crowded and slow, and one by one I asked if I could pass. My third road crossing wasn't at a gap, and when I got to my fourth; Turks Gap I knew I had done 12 miles! I sat and ate my lunch amazed. It was only 11:20 and if I stayed until 12:00 I would still get to the pickup by 3:30, I texted Papa the update. I talked briefly with two section hikers and then carried on 10 minutes before 12:00. The terrain was still just as ideal as ever and then I came across an unusual tree; did you know trees had genders? Well this tree was surely male (see below.) It's the little things that makes you laugh. I hit some small loose rocky sections for awhile and that got my spirits down, I didn't wear my knee braces today (though I had them with me) to help heal the sores on my knees. My knees were very tired but not painful. I passed my 5th road, and then my 6th and didn't get a photo with the 6th since I can't do a selfie! I texted both Nana and Papa seeing if they could be there for 3:00 since I was making amazing time, and then I put on Pandora for the last 2 miles. I hit my 7th and final road crossing and didn't see any cars, I must have beat them! I had a text saying they would be there in 10 minutes so I sat and ate some Cheetos and drank some Gatorade. Once they picked me up, I felt like superman I had just completed 19.9 miles by 3:00! I got in the car, finished my Cheetos and Gatorade, and had a peanut butter cookie with a chocolate kiss (just like Auntie Heidi used to make.) so good. We stopped at a few of the overlooks to take some photos, Papa almost drove into a falcon, and then we headed to the campground. It took about 45minutes since the Skyline is a 40mph road. When we got back I showered and poured a glass of the wine. I kicked up my feet and enjoyed. We had bacon cheeseburgers, potato and pasta salad, and chips for dinner and I FaceTimed with my favorite baby quick. I am going to try to call it a pretty early night tonight.

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