After a big day on trail and a Nero planned, we slept in…until 6:30. Funny how your sleep cycle changes on trail, it’s very much in sync with the sun. The temperature didn’t drop as drastically as the previous few nights so it was easier to get out of our bags.
With extremely sore feet, we got on trail a little before 8AM. The terrain continued to be mellow. We got a few nice views before the long downhill to Rockfish Gap. We said goodbye to Shenandoah National Park and are already planning our next visit. It’s a popular area to section hike and we might be visiting again in the not so distant future.
We connected with Kristina, the caretaker, at Stanimals Hostel and were picked a few minutes later. We were on our way to town! Eric did not stay at this hostel in 2011 so this is new territory.
We drove through the downtown and within minutes we arrived at a deceptively small looking house. Kristina took us through and gave us the house rules. We were in a first floor bunk room with a bathroom next door. The laundry was free and in the basement. The kitchen was well stocked and there was ample communal space with a dinning and living room.
It is surprising to us how few thru-hikers are staying. There are a few other guests but they are all out to complete section hikes. We wonder if we truly are at the end of SOBOs or possibly between two bubbles. In the log book, we saw that Wildfire and Gourmet stayed here to wait out the hurricane. We knew our vacation in DC would separate us from the bubble we were with in Pennsylvania. It’s been fun seeing their names pop up in log books.
After dropping our packs we set off to get a little lunch at McDonald’s and then completed our resupply. As usual we bought a little too much but we know it will all get eaten. We showered, did laundry and packed up. We spent the afternoon sitting on the front porch and enjoying the afternoon sun. We were not surprised to hear one of the crew members of the hostel grew up in New England, specifically in Woburn, MA, Londonderry and Derry NH (towns where Hayley and Eric each lived in the past). The trail always brings out these coincidences, it’s a small world after all.
We headed to the Chinese buffet and filled our bellies. It was just as satisfying as Eric remembered, he enjoyed all the seafood options, the peel and eat shrimp in particular. There were also many vegetables available so we patted ourselves on the backs as we filled and finished numerous plates.
Afterwards we walked through downtown Waynesboro. It was small and cute. There was an autumn festival set to take place this weekend. The night was warm and the chilly temperatures we experienced a couple days ago seem to be long gone, however the future forecast is calling for frost on Sunday.
When we arrived back at the hostel both Hootenanny and Little Calves were there. We talked with them a bit and then we headed to Kline’s dairy bar for a milkshake. Something we have learned that might help others when selecting ice cream flavors…when outside of New England; raspberry ice cream = blackberry ice cream which in New England is black raspberry ice cream. All three are the same thing, it took three separate experiences to realize we kept getting black raspberry the whole time when ordering. We expected traditional red raspberry ice cream or actual blackberry ice cream. Ice cream flavor confusion aside, we’ve enjoyed our short time in Waynesboro and are already looking forward to a section hike in the area again.
We were up early ready to get back on trail. We had some coffee and talked with the other guests while waiting for the shuttle back to the trail. The weather is looking good for the next week, no rain in sight!
Stanimals Hostel in Waynesboro was just as expected until trying to get a ride back to trail unfortunately. This is when the disorganization started to show. After waiting a couple hours a group of us finally made it back to the trail.
We said goodbye to Hootenanny and hit the trail going south. We quickly caught up to Little Calves and indulged a vent session about the frustrating shuttle situation. Eventually the venting turned into what a lot of hikers talk about…other hikes we’ve done or plan to do. Little Calves is from the west coast and completed the PCT last year. He definitely peaked our interest in what it has to offer.
After a couple hours of hiking with Little Calves we put our heads down and focused on getting the 20 miles done. We were very happy to have switchbacks! The south knows how to make hiking comfortable unlike what we are used to in the Whites.
We had blue skies, great temperatures and excellent views. Virginia certainly is living up to our expectations and looking forward to this long stretch of the trail. We camped at a small tent site at elevation near a nice view of the tree clad mountain peaks. The sky was a little cloudy but some of the sunset colors peaked through. We are very excited to keep making our way through central Virginia.
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