May 1, 2018
Destination: Rockfish Gap (Waynesboro) Today's Miles: 5
Start Location: Paul Wolfe Shelter Trip Miles: 863
I woke at the shelter right at 6. I figured it would take me 2 hrs to hike the 5 miles to Rockfish Gap.
Around 10:30 last night someone had come into the shelter and settled in upstairs. I didn’t know who it was though. I got up quietly and got my food bag. I was organizing my gear when suddenly I heard a forced whisper behind me. “Hungry Cat is that you? Did you lose a spork?” It was Zia Fox. Tarzan had thought he was staying behind because of a hurt foot, but apparently he had gotten a second wind. I suppose last night was a good night to hike - I believe it was a full moon, or close to it. The moon was very bright. I had not lost a spork, but apparently someone had and Zia had picked it up.
I didn’t eat breakfast or even brush my teeth; I booked it for town! I wanted to get breakfast in town as well. The hike out was interesting. I saw three whitetail deer and a wild turkey. The turkey kept walking on the trail in front of me. It would see me coming and hurry down the trail rather than get off the trail. It was pretty amusing. I also passed by an old family cemetery with very old and handmade looking unmarked gravestones in it, and an old chimney and house foundation made of stone. The graveyard reminded me a bit of that Jodie Foster movie “Nell.” I could definitely picture her burying poor chickapea here....
I arrived at Rockfish Gap and before I even got to the parking lot a truck pulled up next to me on the road. A gentleman rolled down the window and asked I I was going into town. He said he was one of the trail angels and would give me a lift. Awesome! I threw my pack in the truck bed and hopped in. His name was John Lowdermilk, and he was quite an interesting fellow. He was local to the area, although he had lived in Long Beach, CA for years running his own transmission shops. He drove me to Stanimals 328 Hostel, where I would stay that night, and pointed out some of the town points of interest for hikers: the Rockfish Gap Outfitters, Ming’s, a few other eateries, etc. He also pointed out the town theatre, which he said he was working on helping to restore to production. Like all of the trail angels, John was just a really nice, generous person and very interesting to talk with. I was incredibly appreciative of the ride and felt very welcomed to Waynesboro!
My first impression of Waynesboro was that it was a fairly large town. As a result, I noticed traffic moving faster. Atlanta will really be a culture shock when I get back / traffic there is ridiculous! Waynesboro also had a lot of conveniences, like many places to eat and shop and resupply. I saw Sharkbait leaving Stanimals and he kindly gave me a bag of turkey jerky that he didn’t need. Stanimal (the hostel owner’s trail name) wasn’t there so I called him and got sorted, then ran out the door to breakfast. I went to a place called Weasies. It was just under a mile away and delicious. It was a local diner and I had the Hungry Boy breakfast, which was 3 blueberry pancakes, 2 eggs, bacon, and home fries. They didn’t have a Hungry Cat breakfast! After I ate that with coffee, I had blackberry cobbler with whipped cream. The diner was hopping, mostly with an older retired crowd given it was Monday.
After breakfast I went up to The outfitter. I walked so I could digest my food. It was about a mile I think. I acquired the bug spray and gas canister I needed, but they were out of permethrin. I decided I would go out to Walmart for that. I went outside to try and hitch a ride back into town. After a few minutes of failed attempts, a guy approached me from the store and asked where I was going. He was another thru hiker named Luke Dog working on a flip flop and he and another hiker (SAS - Slow and Steady) had called an Uber to get to the post office. I never even thought about uber - good idea! They offered to let me hop in with them as they were going to the post office in town, so I did. Thanks guys!!!! Once there I walked over to the Walmart Neighborhood Market store, but they didn’t have permethrin. I then got a ride out to the Walmart super center 2 miles away and took care of my entire resupply there. They had everything I needed, including permethrin! I got a ride back to the hostel, and saw that Happy Feet, Tarzan, Zia, and Whitewater were all there! I had though they were all staying at the YMCA where you can tent for free. Apparently they all decided Stanimals was more convenient, and it really was! The room included laundry and shuttling to and from the trail.
My next task was laundry. The hostel had loaner clothes, so I picked some out and out all of my filthy stuff in the wash. While that was getting clean, I spread my gear out back - pack, tent, footprint, shoes, gaiters, and applied a permethrin treatment and left it to dry. I went back inside and organized my resupply food, breaking it down by day. I flipped my laundry over to dry after that, and then cleaned up some of my camp kitchen gear that really needed a good wash, as well as my dirty water collection reservoir bag. I back flushed my Sawyer filter as well. When that was done I set about a windscreen making project using an empty aluminum can. I was trying to make a windscreen that I had seen another hiker with on the trail. I gave it my best effort! I’ll find out next time I boil water if it works!
Once my clothes were dry I took them out back and applied a permethrin treatment. Beware ticks, beware!! Then I finally I saw Zia with an ice cream from a place just a few doors down from the hostel called Kline’s. They make ice cream there and had all sorts of flavors and varieties. I ended up getting an Oreo sundae with chocolate sauce, whipped cream, and cookie dough chunks. I took that back to the hostel and demolished it, then finally showered. That shower felt amazing! I was so dirty that it took me a while. I cleaned under my nails and in all the cracks and crevices. I looked in the mirror - my beard is really getting out of control! It’s pretty “puffy“ now.
I was pretty tired after all those chores, but I felt good and organized. My one last task was to eat again, so I tried to round up some hikers to go to Ming’s. Whitewater went with me and we had an awesome time destroying the buffet there and chatting about this and that. It was cool to learn more about her aspirations for grad school in English lit. I also got to speak Chinese with the waitress there, which was fun. Having lived in China and eaten lots of authentic Chinese food, I can confirm that Ming’s is definitely “Americanized” and not the place you go if you want an authentic Chinese food experience. However, for a hiker meal or just for any old hungry cat out there, Ming’s is great and I thoroughly enjoyed my meal! I was glad I went, though I kind of wish I had taken some pictures there too. I don’t even remember how many plates of food I had.... They had sushi as part of the buffet as well!
After all that it was time for bed. Whitewater and I stopped at the Walmart on the way home for a few more things. I was exhausted and tried to catch up on my journal, but just fell asleep. I decided I would not zero in Waynesboro. The weather was good and I had done what I needed to do here. Time to get into the Shenandoahs!
I fell asleep grateful for such a welcoming town, a good hostel to sleep at, and hiker friends. Oh, and Weasies and Kline’s and Ming’s :-). I was very grateful to be able to work through my punch list of things to do today. Tomorrow I could just eat and hike!