If you followed my last post, I left Staunton sipping iced tea generously provided by my B&B hostess, singing “My Heart to Yours” over and over while driving into Shenandoah National Park. I was giddy, like a kid going on a secret treasure hunt. There was something magical about a road that is a park that you can only drive on after you have paid and gone through the Ranger kiosk.
But at my first beautiful overlook I did another non-typical, risky, impulsive behavior, that will horrify my mother…I picked up two hitchhikers!! I have NEVER in my whole existence EVER picked up a hitchhiker. Too many horrid stories have been whispered in my ear and I have been a good girl thus far. But John Denver has a song called Hitchhiker that I have been listening to and it opened me up to the possibility. So when the moment presented itself I was ready.
The famous Appalachian hiking trail from Georgia to Maine goes through the Shenandoah National Park. Now, I didn’t know this or anything much about the Appalachian Trail until I picked up these two young men with their huge backpacks that are hiking it. Known as A.T. hikers, or thru-hikers, they were delightful companions as we meandered up Skyline Drive, stopping at viewpoints while they shared their intimate knowledge of the trail. They recommended hikes for me, what to do if you meet a black bear vs. a grizzly, tick control and places to see on my drive north. In all their days on the trail they disappointingly had not yet seen black bears and I could brag that I had seen two. I surely hope they have seen some by now! I dropped Chris and Bill (Waldo and Rock Lobster-all A.T. hikers have an alias), off at the trailhead with hugs and well wishes and I look forward to following their online trail journals. Oh, I just checked out Bill’s and look what I found…
”Chris bent down to fix his pack, and just then I looked out and saw a pretty woman pulling away in a BMW by herself. I raised an eyebrow and stuck out my thumb and she laughed…then hit the brakes and backed up to me. She must have thought I was joking, because she asked, “Do you actually need a ride?” and we took her up on her offer. She turned out to be an actress taking some time to road trip around the country. We swapped stories and gave her some tips on things to see and places to stay.”
It is funny that Bill noticed that I laughed, because it totally takes me back to that moment of disbelief that I would so soon get the opportunity to take a “chance on a stranger.” Bill also writes that they did finally see a black bear. Check out their adventures on Billz8.wordpress.com or https://www.facebook.com/MyATJourney
After this I did a 2 mile hike to a waterfall, which was really only a very small trickling spout. After Yosemite I am rather spoiled about waterfalls. I checked into the Big Meadow Lodge, did laundry, and attended the ranger campfire talk and walked out on the Big Meadow to see the stars. But unfortunately it was cloudy, so other than seeing a deer lying down on the grass I only saw stars dimly through haze.
It poured the next morning and delayed my departure. My thoughts commiserated with Chris and Bill out there tenting it along the trail and I was so grateful for a roof over my head. The rain slowed but the fog was thick and eerie when I set off on another waterfall hike, this one a bit larger in size.
Driving in the fog is not my idea of fun, especially in areas I am not familiar. I stopped off at the Pinnacles picnic area at Chris’ suggestion and walked along the Appalachian Trail a bit just to see it and get the vibe. It was buggy, that I do know, and narrow and it would certainly be an adventure to walk for days and days with only your pack and the earth and sky. So much was opened up to my imagination from allowing a bit of risk into my car with those cute A.T. hikers. I am so fortunate to be experiencing the world through so many others’ eyes.
“If you’re not afraid to take your chances on a stranger
He might have some company to lend
Why don’t you pull off to the side and let that old man have a ride
He can tell you all the crazy things he’s seen.” (John Denver-Hitchhiker)