Rockfish Gap to Pennsylvania border
Northern Virginia-West Virginia-Maryland

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The journal of Andy Linger ... thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine in 1997

Back to June 22

June 23—Black Rock Hut ( Day 72 ~ milepoint 853.0)
This morning I was up and out before everyone woke up so I wouldn't get tempted into staying in town another day. By 6 am, I was walking down the street looking for a hitch. At 6:30 I was on the trail. This morning I also entered Shenandoah National Park. The park also has a reputation of being "flat". We'll see about that. I saw several deer today. During a break, a doe and fawn walked near me as I was having a snack, but quickly darted across the trail as I put it back in my pack. In fact, as I was writing this journal, Dalrooma (in to get water) and I saw a deer feeding on vegetation 20 feet from us. The terrain today was much easier than the last few weeks. This, and the mega calories I consumed the last couple days made the 21 miler to the shelter (actually in the Shenandoahs they're called huts) a piece of cake. That buck is still wandering around the hut foraging for food. I'm getting hungry, so time to make hamburger helper surprise (I'll throw in some Grape Nuts a hiker gave me).—Andy

June 24—Pinefield Hut ( Day 73 ~ milepoint 866.1)
The weather was more of the same ... hot and muggy. Around noon, I met up with Qtip and the Loft Mountain Campground. We relaxed in the shade and bought a couple grocery items, waiting for the mid-day heat to subside. That evening I sheltered with Yoda, who was out for a couple days. He had done some hikes in Maine and Pennsylvania, and was out in the park for a couple days. Also that evening, something dreaded happened - I saw my first mosquito of the season. Yes, that's right, it's almost July, and I just saw my first one. The no-see-ums have been back and biting - but the mosquitos are what I dread the most. The resident deer are in again, passing through the shelter area.—Andy

June 25—Bearfence Mountain Hut ( Day 74 ~ milepoint 887.0)
Another hot and humid day. When I arrived at Lewis Mountain Campground late in the day, I met up with Free Spirit sitting in front of the camp store waiting for a ride to the lodge. I grabbed a few groceries and waited out a thunder shower that lasted for about an hour. I started thinking about the idea of going back with them and pigging out at the lodge, but that and sharing a room would have cost me over $25, and I wouldn't have been able to spot deer and maybe even bear at the hut. Speaking of the hut, there was me and Pick-A-Nick Basket in for the night - oh yeah, and the resident deer.—Andy

June 26—Rock Spring Hut ( Day 75 ~ milepoint 898.5)
After a few big mileage days, my plan to arrive in Harper's Ferry on the 3rd to meet family has given me time to do some small days. The rest of the way through I plan on staying at every hut - and I'm glad I did. As I arrived at the shelter, the skies were turning gray, and the thunder was getting louder. I went down to the spring to get water, came back up and started cooking in the shelter. Less than 30 minutes later, the skies released all their energy with loud roars and a downpour of rain. A short while later, Walking Carrot and Nowhere Man showed up to sit out the storm, then they headed out to Skyland Lodge. After I finished dinner, I noticed a noise from outside. I looked out, and there's a bear passing through the brush behind the fire pit. I finally saw my first bear! I've read many register entries about hikers seeing several bears, snakes, and wild turkey, and today I saw my first one in the park. At about 9 pm, two hikers show up about 15 minutes apart. Wandering Star (on a Visa from England), and then Pick-A-Nick Basket. This is the most crowded shelter I've had yet in the park (only two other people every night 'til tonight)!—Andy

June 27—Pass Mountain Hut ( Day 76 ~ milepoint 913.8)
As I woke up this morning, I glanced out to look at the sky and noticed a bear! It was rummaging around the fire pit, giving me my first good look at a bear. The 3 of us looked at the bear with excitement as it circled around for a few minutes. When it waddled its way away from us, we got up excited about our first good look at a bear. Today brought many good views of the valley below and the town of Luray. The trail offered many views, including Stony Man Rock, Little Stony Man, and Mary's Rock. My food supply is running low today, so on the way out of Thornton, I pigged out on the only 2 things they carried - potato chips and a half pound bag of M&M's. The hike to the shelter with the 1,000 calorie boost made a difference. At the shelter were Morning Star and Half Hike (he's doing a southbound hike from PA to GA). Half Hike mentioned there is a large swarm of 12-18 thru-hikers a day ahead of me. He said trying to go to the bathroom with the full hut (trying to step over 10 other people in the dark) was a nightmare, not to mention the snores. After that comment, I feel lucky. I know there is another large crowd behind me, with me in the gap. It's been great. I've seen tons of wildlife on the trail with so few hikers on it. Today also marks the first evening in the park I haven't seen any deer at the hut.—Andy

June 28—Gravel Springs Hut ( Day 77 ~ milepoint 927.0)
Not much to report today. Went to Elkwallow Gap Store for another 2 days of groceries, and headed on to the hut. The hut was the most "crowded" one I've been to in the park. I was there with Wandering Star and 3 boyscouts. The rest were tenting. Saw the usual deer at dusk, but nothing else.—Andy

June 29—Denton Shelter ( Day 78 ~ milepoint 945.8)
Today marks my last day in the park. I'll miss it in a few ways. I saw a deer every day, several bears, sunny weather every day, and flat terrain. However, I'm really looking to Harper's Ferry for a few days off. After a quick resupply in Front Royal, I got back on the trail where I paralleled the National Zoo Compound, a fenced in area encompassing several thousand acres of rare and endangered animal species. Although I didn't see any animals, some hikers reported seeing African Donkeys roaming near the fence. I arrived at the shelter to meet 5 others. The shelter had a deck, roofed cooking area and shower (not working) was nearby. It was such a warm pleasant evening, we all found it difficult to pry ourselves from the benches on the deck to go to bed.—Andy

June 30—Rod Hollow Shelter ( Day 79 ~ milepoint 965.0)
Today marked a day of some incredibly boring hiking. The terrain was flat, with absolutely no views and overgrown weeds everywhere. When I reached the shelter and saw other hikers coming in, they were all brushing weeds and bugs off themselves, complaining about the heavy overgrowth along the trail. Everyone was glad when they got there, and anxious about tomorrow's roller coaster hike.—Andy

July 1—Blackburn AT Center ( Day 80 ~ milepoint 982.5)
The day started with some light rain and cool temperatures, staying that way throughout the day. Today was also full of plenty ups and downs. In fact, from the last shelter, there was over 5,000 feet of ups and downs, making today an exciting roller coaster ride (at least I didn't get motion sickness). I stayed at the Blackburn AT Center, which is operated by volunteers from the Potomac AT Club. It has an enclosed porch, and 2 bunk houses. For dinner, the caretakers, Mary Sue and George, made a large pot of spaghetti and bread for us, which cured our ravenous appetites. As we sat in the enclosed porch, the rain became heavier, making this the perfect night to be here.—Andy

July 2—KOA Campground; Harpers Ferry, WV ( Day 81 ~ milepoint 994.7)
Although today's hiking was flat, the rocks were plentiful in many sections. As I reached the Shenandoah River, I let out a sigh of relief. I was very close to Harper's Ferry. I arrived at the Appalachian Trail Conference Headquarters in the afternoon, meeting up with several other hikers rummaging through pictures of other thru-hikers (all thru-hikers get their picture taken) that came through already. Kampfire just happened to be there that day, so a bunch of us headed to the KOA Campground for a shower, swimming in the pool, and rest.—Andy

July 3 thru 6—Somewhere near Washington, DC (Day 82-85 ~ milepoint 994.7)
Today was the day I've been looking forward to for weeks. Around 11 am, after a bunch of us went swimming and played on the swing set, a Lincoln Continental circles the campground, passing right by me. I look inside and can't really make our the faces. They circle again, this time they knew the campsite I was at. They got out of the car, and it's my parents! They hardly recognized me with the beard and very little hair. The four of us (and my aunt) converse a little with the other hikers and then head off to Vienna, VA (I've spent a month and a half in Virginia, finally get out of the stupid state yesterday, now I get to go back - great). During the time I spent there, we headed to the Smithsonian on the 4th, followed by a cookout with some neighbors, a huge plate full of Maryland crabs, and then to a friend of my uncle's on the 5th (has swimming pool in yard) for another fat cookout in Maryland, and top it off with shopping for new equipment and an all-you-can-eat buffet for dinner. At first I thought they were trying to introduce me back to civilization and spoil me, so the absolutely last thing in the world I'd want to do would be to get back on the trail. The time spent with my parents along with my aunt and uncle, who I haven't seen in ten years, was very rewarding, both mentally and physically. The time off my feet and the wake up, eat, hike, eat, sleep routine was great.—Andy

July 7—Crampton Gap Shelter (Day 86 ~ milepoint 1005.0)
The morning of the 7th, we were back off to Harpers Ferry, WV. At the A.T. Conference Headquarters, I weighed my pack (23 pounds without food or water), had my picture taken for the picture album, and wished my parents a safe trip home. While I hiked on the CRO Canal towpath, my mind was busy reminiscing on the past few days - hot showers everyday, real food, air conditioning, etc. Okay, that wasn't really my main focus. Getting back on the trail was difficult, but not nearly as difficult as I first thought it would be. Once I left the towpath and started climbing the ridge, I was glad to be back on and headed north.—Andy

July 8—Hemlock Hill Shelter (Day 87 ~ milepoint 1025.1)
Today on the trail I met a pest control specialist working for the state. He was checking for gypsy moth larve on the trees. I asked him some questions about the weather this summer. He responded, saying it was indeed a cool spring, and the summer has been dry down here (almost 6 incjes short on railfall for the year). Because of this, Ma and Pa mosquito probably won't have much offspring this season. Aw, that's too bad! I arrived at the shelter around 8 pm, with seven of us there for the night. It was another clear evening to put us to sleep.—Andy

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