Monthly Archives: June 2012

Bears…and deer

The first bears that I saw were in the Smokies. That is in Tennessee. So, it was time to see some more and that happened in the SNP. I have seen 6 more bears. The first ones were 2 of the cutest cubs and their mother just crossing the road somewhat in front of me. They didn’t have a care in the world. πŸ™‚ A car even had to stop for them. Then at Pass Mt Shelter we were eating supper and we heard a crash. Bandana thought that there was a bear in his tent. Thankfully it was just splitting a log and eating the ants. I was glad the bear didn’t try to cuddle with me in the shelter. πŸ™‚ Then the next morning I heard a bear up in a tree. It was chomping and drooling. I guess there were 3 cubs as well, but I didn’t see them. I also learned later that when a bear does that they are not happy. Glad it didn’t come down and get me. The last one was the last day of the park where I startled a yearling. I banged my sticks together and it ran away. Silly bears.

Of course I didn’t have a camera for any of these encounters. 😦 The last one I did, but I decided getting through safely was more important then getting a picture. πŸ™‚


There are also a ton of deer in the park. They will even pose for you and are not shy of humans. They are so graceful and beautiful. They also carry the deer tick from which you can get Lyme disease. I did get a picture of a deer. I’ll try to get a pic of a bear yet. I know you are all anxious to see them. πŸ™‚


an overlook

The Shenandoahs were hyped up to be flat with lots of views and one of the best parts of the trail. While there were flat sections and good views I think it’s in the wrong place in VA for me to enjoy it as much. I have been getting what is termed: the VA blues. I am ready to be done with VA. The SNP gets visited by many people and it really surprised me how overgrown some of the trail is. Hello – tick city! To be fair there were a couple places where someone had recently taken a weed wacker to the sides of the trail. This was much appreciated. There were also places that needed more blazes on the trees. It’s never fun to think you might be going the wrong direction. I’ve asked the Lord for a blaze many a time! We have also had a ton of heat and humidity and that really saps the energy level and takes away my appetite. You have to make sure you drink enough because you’re sweating a ton, dripping actually.

Mary’s rock and Stony Man had good overlooks, but I think that the SNP gives way more views to the drivers than the hikers. We saw some people rock climbing and rappelling off of Stony Man. Guess I could do that next time I come. πŸ™‚ There were a lot of section hikers in this area and it was fun to get to know them.

One fun thing was that Alison and Molly came with me for the first day of hiking in SNP. We had a good time and I helped

taking a break

them see what it’s really like on the trail, at least for Molly anyway. None of us slept very well that night in the shelter and we even got to walk in the rain a bit. We did entertain everyone as we tried to use the bear pole to hang our bear bag though. πŸ™‚ I showed Molly how to use the water filter and they got the whole experience. Chris picked them up on Skyline Drive the next morning.

As I said, I am ready to be out of VA. By the time you read this I may be. My plan is to be in Harper’s Ferry on the 28th of June. That is actually 2 days ahead of schedule. Things are doing well.


the wayside

Shenandoah National Park has several waysides that are close to the trail. These can be oasises forΒ  hungry hikers. Some people actually carry less food going through the park to hit up the 4 waysides. The timing worked out really well for Nooga, Bandana and I to hit 2 of them for lunch on separate days. Basically waysides are tourist traps for motorists on Skyline Drive with gift shops, expensive candy and a grill. The grill is what draws the hikers and the re-supply options. We stopped at Big Meadows wayside and they had camping and a lodge. We were able to get cell reception at the lodge, take showers and do laundry. More dreams coming true! We sat down at a restaurant for lunch and ordered pizza for supper before hiking 4 more miles.

This is the way to hike through the Shenandoahs – by taking in the waysides. We did

all the goodies

13-15 miles each day and took long breaks from the heat in the middle at the waysides. We were still doing some miles, but we enjoyed it as we went.

blackberry shake

The waysides are also known for their blackberry shakes. I limited myself to 1 as they were expensive. And you may know how much I love ice cream…so this was difficult. My frugality won out. Most things were quite expensive. They also had trash cans and real toilets! YEAH! I am glad I’ve had people to hike with through this area so I can enjoy these detours.


A 20.8 mile day brought Castaway and I to Afton – the road to Waynesboro VA. Immediately we noticed there was a kettle corn stand. Yes! So, we got some and sodas. So refreshing! We sat in the shade of an abandoned gas station while waiting for Alison to arrive. There were hugs all round when she came and then we were off to Chris and Vera’s house. On the way we dropped off Castaway at a hotel. A shower was the first priority and then food. Izzy, Chris and Vera’s three year old, entertained us with stories from a children’s Bible and dancing with her blanket. We were shown to a room with 2 beds, TV and videos and space to spread out. It was amazing! We went to eat at Ming’s Chinese restaurant with Castaway, Comma-Kaze and Blue Sky. I was glad to introduce Alison to these people I’ve talked about and hiked with. I did my gear shake down and spend a lot of time lying around. Vera and Chris fed us well and were so awesome to us. They let us do our thing and it was amazing. We got to sit by a fire one evening and met their nephew Devin. I answered lots of questions, but it’s fun to share stories with a wide-eyed audience. :)It was so nice to be in a house to wash clothes and clean out things really well.

We went to visit Molly in Harrisonburg and it was a great time! We ate, went to church and looked at pictures from Bulgaria and the AT. I’ve been able to visit Molly once each year that she’s been at EMU. 2 for marathons and one on the AT.

Leaving Waynesboro was hard after 3 days because we were treated so well. Thanks to Alison for the car and Chris and Vera for the hospitality!


yeah! a trash can!

One of the things a thru-hiker hates is trash. Following the leave no trace policy, one must pack out what they pack in, so that means carrying your wrappers and bags etc. You want to make sure you eat all your food so you don’t have to pack that out too. Thankfully you don’t have to pack out your toilet paper. πŸ™‚ Over the course of 4-5 days you can accumulate over a gallon ziplock full of trash. It’s not a lot of weight, but it is bulky. Nearly the first thing to do in a town is get rid of trash.

Sometimes you will meet a section hiker that asks if they can take your trash out. This is music to a thru-hiker’s ears and most will jump all over it. This is true trail magic. In VA we found we were excited to cross the Blue Ridge Parkway and see if we could find a coveted litter can. In the Shenandoah National Park we were able to dump trash at the picnic areas and waysides.

If you section hike, do the thru-hiker’s a favor and ask to take their trash out. You will definitely make fast friends!

Things Renee Thinks While Hiking

I am sure that you are wondering what goes through my head as I hike. Here is a glimpse:

Yum! Spider webs for breakfast! (the first person on the trail often gets all the spider webs)

What in the forest smells like laundry detergent?

I miss camp!

Me take care of me belly button…(this is a camp song)

These rocks would be great for the rocking project at camp!

Why is this bee buzzing around my head? I do not smell like a flower!

What is a gnat’s fascination with eyes? There always seems to be one flying by my eyeballs.

Why do I keep going uphill when the handbook says it’s supposed to be downhill?

Thank you God for giving me the ability to do this hike and for your creation!

I wonder how_____(insert hiker’s name) is doing and if they are still on the trail.

I hate rocks!

Here shelter, shelter, shelter!

I need a zipline.

I wonder if the trees with blazes feel special…

Wow, those views are amazing!

My feet hurt. 😦

I thought they said Virginia was flat?!

It is NOT all downhill from here, or anywhere.

Did I sign up for bouldering?

When will I be able to shower next? Or do laundry?

Gear Shake Down

While I was in Waynesboro I did a gear shake down. Alison had brought some of my lighter gear and I was anxious to move to some lighter gear. This means I hopefully will have less shoulder soreness and my feet should feel better. Here is a run down of most of the gear I switched out:

zero degree on the left liner on the right

Zero degree bag for a sleeping bag liner







leatherman vs scissors

I had this huge and heavy leatherman multi-tool that had 4 screw drivers, pliers, 2 saws, a knife, scissors, can opener and a file. And only used the scissors. So, I bought a fiscars scissors and am sending the monstrocity with Alison.



blue vs yellow


I had Alison bring me a different tarp. One that is bigger and maybe lighter.





heavy vs light

Even my boots got traded out for trail runners. My feet will feel so much lighter!



My running socks will be lighter than my wool socks.

wool vs synthetic


body glide







Even my body glide got down sized.

fuel canisters

The fuel can I had was huge! I got it in Hot Springs and there is still fuel in it! That was over 6 weeks ago! I like exclamation points!


I am looking forward to seeing how much lighter my pack feels. πŸ™‚

The Home Place

The Home Place

Catawba – the home of The Home Place…this is every hikers dream. It is an all you can eat meal served family style. Not many restaurants do this anymore, so when you find a home cooked meal that is all you can eat, it is hard to say no.

Our day of hiking consisted of practically rappelling down Dragon’s Tooth and over several other mountains. We had decided not to eat lunch in order to save room for this tasty meal. But, that proved to be a mistake as we failed to have enough energy to climb the only mediocre hills that laid in between us and the feast. Each seemed to drag on and on. Then finally we came upon a road…the road to Catawba! We were able to get a hitch the one mile to the restaurant.

Comma-Kaze and me

There was a bit of a wait to be seated, it was Sunday around 2pm after all. But once they brought out the food we were in heaven. We weren’t sure what to do with the fancy plates and silverware after eating out of a pot with spork (or foon if you prefer). As we spooned green beans, mashed potatoes, ham, fried chicken, and other various food items Comma-Kaze, Castaway and I reveled in being in a restaurant with people that smelled much better than us. We thought they might have a separate section for hikers. πŸ™‚ They didn’t. I am sure they get hikers all the time.

the food!

We could have asked for seconds on any of the items, even dessert, but we were barely able to finish firsts. The dessert was a berry compote with ice cream. Wow! Glad I saved room! We enjoyed ourselves thoroughly, it’s too bad there aren’t places like this every 50 miles on the trail.





Once back out to the trail it was hard to get going again. I ended up going only 2 miles to the 2nd shelter. I slept well, dreaming of fried chicken and compote.

More Friends

Here are some more pictures of people I have met along the way:

Wiffle Chicken





Castaway and I

As you could tell in my post about the skunk, Glasgow was a pretty exciting place. What I didn’t tell you is that there was also a carnival going on while we were in town. Castaway and I took it all in. We went on the ferris wheel, rode the scrambler and swings as well as ate snow cones and watched a ‘womanless beauty pageant’. I was sorely disappointed that there were only 2 contestants. Where is the Swan Lake staff when you need em? πŸ™‚ I also tried my hand a bingo, but failed miserably. I wish I had Aaron Tschetter’stalent for winning! There were also these ladies that tap danced. They did a fantastic job and I found myself wishing that I

tap dancing ladies

were that quick on my feet. The trail has trained me to be sure footed but I would look rather silly trying to dance at the moment. Oh, who am I kidding, I would look silly dancing anytime. I guess I should stick with walking. It’s been doing all right for me so far. πŸ™‚ Another neat aspect of Glasgow was they had a random t-rex with a cave woman sitting on top. Hmm, reminds me of Aberdeen. We had quite the time getting dizzy and acting like little kids. Yeah for summer carnivals!


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