Moving Forward

All is still well with Buddy Backpacker and crew. When we last left off, we were spending our last night with Bill, the journalist from Backpacker Magazine. We were really excited to get to do this article with him and hope that we have given him enough info on the trail  and about our hike for him to write a fantastic article. Buddy can not wait for it to come out so he can download it onto our iPad and read it to me!

The night before Bill left he called his shuttle driver to confirm the pick up at Skyline Resort when the shuttle driver informed us that some rain was headed our way. They ended that day at the Big Meadows Campground but we all piled into the Jeep and drove back up Skyline to stay at Bearfence Mountain Hut which was suppose to be .1 from the parking lot. We thought that would be a better option than tenting in the rain the night before Bill has to travel, we didn’t want all his stuff to get wet and then to be lugging it all over till he arrived home much later that night. After some searching around Bill and Buddy were able to find the shelter. We grilled up some chicken and stayed warm in the Jeep, talking until it was time to head down to the shelter and head to bed. Bill is a morning person who loves to get up early and get a start on the day ahead, I like my sleeping bag. It’s warm and soft and I always hate to pry myself out of it every morning. Bill needed to meet his shuttle driver at 9:30 that morning at Skyline Resort, so we headed out early to make it there in time. In all the rushing around and throwing stuff in the Jeep, I forgot to look under it before I pulled out and ran right over our little grill. Not the highlight of the day, that’s for sure. I’m not sure that it’s not completely broken, but I also don’t know if the gas line is intact, so to be on the safe side I am going to just keep it tucked away till we get back to NY. We made it to drop Bill and thanked him for coming out and spending time on the trail with us. He said that his time out here has inspired him to do more hiking when he gets back to Oregon which is exactly what we wanted to hear! I’m so glad that he had a good time and enjoyed his time on the trail. It was raining quite hard when we dropped him off, so Dion decided to wait it out a little bit and see if the rain would let up. We found a pull off with cell service to check the weather and saw that the radar showed that the rain would pass in a little bit so we decided to wait it out. We realized then, while planning that day and checking over the numbers that finishing on Sunday would be near impossible.

These are our last few days on the trail, we want to enjoy them not have to rush through every day just to be done. We will now be finishing on Monday, which we think is a great day to finish being that it is Martin Luther King Day. It is a great day for a ‘dream’. That rainy day they ended up only doing 6 miles, which was fine with everyone once the rain stopped. We found a good stealth spot near Hawksbill Gap and camped there that night. Yesterday they hiked 15.9 while I went down into Luray to resupply and get gas. I drove back up around 3 to meet them toward the end of their day with snacks at the US211 road crossing. They hung out and warmed up in the Jeep for about 20 minutes before heading back to the trail. As they exited the car and made their way back to the trail big snow flakes began to fall. At first I thought nothing of it and began finishing up an email I had begun earlier in the day but didn’t yet finish. The snow kept falling and after about 15 minutes began falling harder. I know very well that Skyline Drive will close at the first site of bad weather, so I headed up to meet them at Beahms Gap. As soon as I crossed the bridge from the 211 parking lot I saw the gate was closed and those all too familiar red blinking lights were telling me that the gates were already closed. Of corse they were! I then drove down to the guard booth where I had to explain what we are doing and why I have to get in there to pick them up and then waited about half an hour before getting permission to drive past the gate and pick them up. Dion always carries gear with him in case of an emergency, but I wanted to get them out if they were closing the park. The rangers asked us not to stay in the park with the Jeep because the roads were closed, so after they arrived at the parking area we drove out and stayed in Luray. When we woke up this morning we saw that although the roads were clear, there was about an inch or two on the ground. We called the Shenandoah’s office to check to see if the road as open and as of 8:15 this morning it was still closed. Having pushed back our finish date so many times we can not loose a day of hiking, so we did the only thing we could right now and that was to drive 45 minutes up north to Front Royal which is where the National Park ends and we can access the road crossings. They got out of the Jeep all packed and ready to go about 9 this morning from 638. The weather is beautiful and Buddy could not wait to get into the snow. He has said that hiking in the snow is his  favorite weather. He likes making ‘Bud Prints’ in the snow with his hiking boots and said that the trail has never looked prettier than when the trees are covered in sparkles. Even though they got a late start they are going to try to do 20.5 miles to end at Gravel Springs Hut. Hopefully the weather will clear up and the road will be open tomorrow. If it does, we will lead back into the park and finish from Beahms Gap to 638 in two days. If it doesn’t they will finish the roller coaster tomorrow and end at the Blackburn AT Center Hostel tomorrow and hope to anything that Skyline will be open after that! As for now, I’m going to go meet up with our friend Bonzo from Harpers Ferry who is going to meet me at 601 to hike into meet Buddy and Dion and hike with them for a bit. The weather is perfect today for a walk in the snow! 4 more days!

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