The Buffet, Day Hiker, and the Fog

May 6, 2018

Destination: Byrd’s Nest #4 Day Use Picnic Area Today's Miles: 18.50

Start Location: Rock Spring Hut Trip Miles: 947.50

Fog lies playfully in the Shenandoah valley
On the trail everything comes down to food, bodily functions, and gear. Nate had planted a seed last night about stopping at the Skyland Lodge restaurant for breakfast.

It wasn’t far off the trail. At first I wasn’t going to go, but the more I thought about it the more it made sense. I might even be able to do a small resupply at the lodge and avoid stopping in Front Royal and go straight to Harpers Ferry. I had slept on a pitch last night and spent part of the night just trying not to roll off my sleeping pad. It wasn’t the best sleep I’ve had on the trail, but also definitely not the worst! I decided I would beeline for the Skyland restaurant that was about 4.5 miles away and take care of all of my eating and privy business there. I was very excited that it was not raining when I woke up and my tent rain fly was dry. I threw my gear together and headed out. Wallace and Peewee were up ahead; Whitewater and Nate were still at the shelter. Tarzan and Happy Feet never showed up at the shelter so we assumed maybe they had just stealth camped somewhere. They couldn’t be that far away. 

I hiked the 4.5 miles fast, passing Wallace and Peewee at some point. When I made it to the restaurant, the staff and servers were quite friendly and sat me down at a table with room for others. I then realized that they had a buffet option, which was a breakfast bar with all kinds of foods for only $14.95. It included coffee and juice, so I went for that. As I was having an omelette made and standing there at the omelette station shoving bacon, sausage and potatoes into my mouth with my fingers like a heathen, Peewee walked in, then Wallace. I got a plate full of home fries, pancakes, sausage, bacon, biscuits and gravy, and then the omelette, and sat down to eat. The three of us laughed and joked and went back for more food. I ate fruit and yogurt with granola as well. Nate arrived and then Whitewater, so our table was full of joking around. As Nate walked in, Wallace said “who’s this day hiker?” We often joke about how good the day hikers smell and how clean they are. Nate had really cleaned up on his visit with his wife and looked clean enough to pass for a day hiker. Nate has already walked almost half the trail without a trail name, so I jumped on this and told him I thought “Day Hiker” would be a hilarious trail name for him. The table agreed. I am not sure if it will stick yet. Hopefully I will see him tomorrow and can see how he’s feeling about it. I may suggest Dayglow as an alternate version in case he feels Day Hiker is too confusing since he’s thru hiking, though that is partially why it’s so funny. We’ll see what sticks!

After breakfast and using the facilities there, we headed out. Wallace, Whitewater and I headed out together. We decided to walk past the next two shelters and then maybe stealth camp somewhere. It was hard to walk at first. It looked and felt like I had a buffet baby bump! But as I got into my groove, I started to feel less full and more energized by the calories. I had also tucked a danish from the buffet in my pocket for later. Who doesn’t love a pocket danish?

We hiked past the side trail to Stony Man, the highest peak in the park and also said to have some of the best views, but we didn’t go up because everything around us was a foggy whiteout. We had better views at the Pinnacle and then Mary’s Rock overlook after Byrd’s Nest #3 Hut. It was awesome to watch the fog move around in the valley in patches here and there. It rained on us here and there, but it never poured. 

We stopped at Pass Mountain Hut for a short break and talked with two section hikers, a man and his son. The son lived in Washington DC and the father in Georgia. They were really nice. They told us that camping was allowed at Byrd’s Nest #4 picnic area, and so we decided to hike there as that would wrap up the hiking day around 5pm. We trekked in with that goal in mind.

I had seen a rabbit in the morning and we saw some orioles throughout the day. I was still hoping for a bear, but did not see one. We got to the camp site and were the only people there. Two rabbits stood downhill from us, sizing us up and doing their thing in the meadow. We set up our tents and then made dinner in the picnic area. Tomorrow we planned to hit another wayside for breakfast!

Today I was grateful for the cool temperatures, the awesome foggy views, the amazing buffet and the wonderful camaraderie on the trail. Wallace, Whitewater and I had a good time cracking up before we retired for the night. Tomorrow the weather is supposed to be nice!

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