We were feeling pretty upset with the trail this morning for giving us so many rocks. Making it towards town picks up our spirits, especially when this time, the heat, humidity, insect bites, bug spray made the need for a shower seem a LOT more immediate.
The rocky terrian didn't improve today, but the elevation did. We heard from Dean, who had reached Waynesboro that morning, that it would improve with ten miles to go. But we were a ways off yet.
We ran into a large group of Amish (or Menonites?) Heading off into the woods on a backpacking trip for the next week. All the men were wearing long pants, and tucked in button down shirts that looked too clean to have been out there long. There was one woman, hiking in a full dress, apron and crocs. We talked with one guy a bit and he shared that the year before they did the Shenandoahs and this year they were shooting for 15 to 20 miles a day to make it to Apple Orchard Mountain by Sunday. What madness! We are pretty sure they'll do it too.
We trudged along, stopping for short breaks here and there but not wanting to get into town too late. The terrain didn't greatly improve, even when we hit the ten mile section Dean had told us about. We met a couple old fellas with a younger guy who seemed pretty awe struck to talk with some thru hiking fools, total D level celebrities out here.
The day was a struggle, but despite cursing, some inward sobs, we made it to Rockfish Gap. At the end we met a Mom and her two sons, Susan, Michael, and Daniel. They ended up deciding to hike from Daleville to Waynesboro on a lark, slackpacking each day. They had set up a cooler at the end with Gatorade and sodas. It was a wonderful culmination.
At the gap, we called one of the many trail angels in Waynesboro who volunteer to shuttle hikers to and from the trail. We called Steve Doherty, who arrived in ten minutes to drive us up to the Quality Inn where Dean had reserved a room. Mr. Doherty had been living in the area for about four years. He found a new company to work for which allowed him to work remotely, so he and his wife moved from New York to Waynesboro. We chatted about places to live after the trail and he gave us a brief tour of Waynesboro.
We arrived at the Quality Inn for a reunion with Dean and Peregrine. We all headed to the Tailgate Grill a block down the street for burgers, sweet teas and an incredible amount of fries. Extra Mile and Leap Frog dropped by the grill to say hello. We finished dinner and headed to the local ice cream shop.
We had made it to another town, a big town and big milestone, and we were among friends. We were fed, soon showered, and soon in comfortable beds. We had decided to take a double zero, to rest, recharge, and to recover our morale from too many missed mile goals in the last ten days, too many snake sightings, one too many close calls with a snake, too many bug bites and one too many tick bites (Em found a tick on her leg right above her knee).