If I had a tale that I could tell you, I’d tell a tale, sure to make you smile…

4/27 – Day 63
Today was a zero for Moose and Wideload and I had planned on spending the day with them and there family. Moose’s parents, Dave and Deb are very nice and fun to be with…the same with Wideload’s mom Ellen. We spend a beautiful day walking thru the town of Lexington, which is a neat little place of restaurants, shops and pubs.

We have a nice lunch at an outdoor cafe and then follow it up with fresh made ice cream from a little ice cream shop. Although I get 5 to 10 miles on the trail a couple of times a week, I’m going to have to exercise more and eat less!

4/28 – Day 64
It’s time to say goodbye and head south again to check on the kids. Wideload and Moose will get back on the trail and try to catch the rest of the bubble, they are probably about 25 miles behind. I probably won’t see any of the northern bubble until Waynesboro in about a week.

I drive south to Newport and set up on a gravel road where Packrat, Nickelodeon and I were about a week ago. I should see this group of still recovering hikers roll thru at lunch. It is a rainy day, but not too cold so good for burning miles.

Camaro is the first to arrive and she climbs in the van, happily reunited with Chevy her dog. We fix up some lunch and discuss her plans. I continue to be concerned about Camaro, she is still hiking with tendinitis in both Achilles’ tendons, and keeps pushing her recovery. she has agreed to get off the trail and allow her injuries to heal but she has pushed that date out another 10 days or so. If she ruptures a tendon then it is game over and possibly permanent damage. I pray regularly for her and trust that God will take care of her.

The rest of the crew is doing pretty well as far as recovery goes and should be good to continue hiking as long as they kept to a slower and easier pace. We all have lunch, including some awesome leftovers from Wideload and Moose’s family, and they head back out into the rain to finish their hike.

Zach decides to ride into town with me for the night, Tarzan is already there visiting a friend at Virginia Tech, and we will join him in Blacksburg for dinner. Blacksburg is a neat little college town and we all have a nice dinner down by the farmers market. Zach and Tarzan will hit the trail again in the morning and I will take the time to restock and get a few things in order. I noticed there was a Chipotle in town and I am excitedly planning lunch there tomorrow!

4/29 – Day 65
I get to sleep in since I have all day and nothing much to do. I take care of some shopping and then head into town to have a burrito bowl at Chipotle…I have not had my favorite lunch in two months and I’m looking forward to it!

After lunch, I finish my shopping and decide to treat myself to a movie before finding the kids. I get a message from Nickelodeon as the movie is ending that they are going to stay at the Four Pines Hostel in Catawba, which is about a 10 mile hike south of McAfee Knob. I drive out that way to meet them, stopping at Taco Bell to bring a little fast food dinner to the hungry hikers.

I arrive at the Hostel and get to see all the kids, plus Leprechaun, Fly and a few others. I meet Tinman for the first time and another guy who is section hiking.

The Four Pines Hostel is basically a 4 car garage with a bunch of old couches, cots, patio recliners and tables scattered about. It has a few tables, a refrigerator, microwave and stove. From any other standard it’s a hovel… to a thru hiker it is awesome! It’s warm, it’s dry and you can hang your wet gear to dry.

We all visit through the night and watch a movie on my computer. Most of the sleeping areas are taken so I crash in my van.

4/30 – Day 66
It’s a misty morning and I’m up with what can be seen of the sun, my sleep had been continuously disturb by an overly zealous rooster who felt it was necessary to crow every 15 minutes since around 4:00 AM….I’m thinking that he would be excellent fried and served with fresh corn on the cob!

The kids are up and moving slowly and I am going to meet them about 6 miles down the trail for lunch and will hike up to McAfee’s Knob with them. I head out so I can resupply and be set up when they arrive.

After setting up in the parking lot, I see one thru hiker come down the trail and I make him a sandwich with a coke. He sits and visits for awhile and then heads for one of the shelters about 4 miles up the trail.

The Walking Dead start to filter in and I start feeding them. Everyone seems to be doing pretty good and are in high spirits, they are ready to get up to the knob as it is one of the most popular “Kodak moments” on the trail.

A little magic before McAfee Knob


 

Tarzan had already caught the crew but Zach had decided to sleep in at the shelter so no telling when we will see him. We hang around for awhile as other hikers come in and eat, then around 3:00 we decide to get ready to hike up to the knob. I lock up the van but leave the cooler and stuff out so any thru hikers can help themselves to some sandwiches, cokes and chips. I leave a note telling them to do so and that I will be back in the evening.

It is an easy hike up and I spend some time hiking with Tarzan, as usual is is sporting nothing but short yellow shorts and his Patagonia hat. He is a great young man and I enjoy visiting with him on the hike. Yesterday I bought him a paperback copy of “Tarzan of the Apes” to read, so he could learn more then the Disney version of his trail name!
He is excited to start college and is anxious to get done with the trail. He has been hiking with his sister, Coffee Pot, but hikes a lot faster so is going to jump ahead in the next few days. He is the only one in this group that is not injured and I can sense that the slow pace of the Walking Dead is wearing him down…he really is ready to start cranking out bigger miles.

We get up to the knob and the clouds have rolled away to blue skies and sunshine. Apparently the flies and mosquitoes enjoy the knob as well since they are swarming everywhere. We take a few photos and I head back down to wrap up my day of trail magic.

Tarzan fights the Walking Dead

Nomad and Camaro on McAfee Knob

Nomad on McAfee Knob


 

On the way back down the trail I run into a few thru hikers who found my note and the cooler, they thank me for the grub and we chat for just a little bit. I get back to the van, packs things away and decide to stay here for the night. I will do some more trail magic in the morning and then head to Daleville in the late afternoon.

As I am chilling in the van watching a movie, I see a hiker head lamp shining down the path. It is Zach, guess he finally got up, and he is going to continue on another 5 miles to catch up with the other hikers. He will be crossing the knob in the dark so not much of a photo opportunity for him.

5/1 – Day 67
Once again I am up with the sun, seems to be a permanent habit now. It is another drizzly morning and as I pop out of the van I meet Wild Rain, she had camped just a few miles up the trail and was startled by some movement in the woods and got an early start.

I head back down to Salem to pick up some ice and other items. I park the van where I can see the trail from the back seat and lounge around ready as I wait for any hikers to come through.

My first hiker to show up is GRRRR…I have met him once before and he is happy to grab a sandwich before heading up to the knob. Just a little later Flowing Waters and Twisted Knickers show up for a little lunch as well. The day is still overcast and they are hoping for blue skies, the local weather is predicting sun in a few hours and they should hit it perfectly on the knob (as I am typing this the skies are mostly clear and it is just about the time they should be on the knob).

GRRRR enjoys a sandwich


 

I don’t except any hikers through for the next few hours, I will hang around until about 5:00 in case I see any stragglers then head into Daleville to catch up with the kids.

As I start thinking about packing up, in rolls three new hikers, we do quick introductions and I start fixing some sandwiches. I have not met these guys before and they are cool to hang out with.

They finish up and head back up the mountain, hikers are normally reluctant to leave after a nice lunch and a few sodas! I’m starting to pack things up when in comes Raider…he’s not looking for food just some help…he had slipped on some mud and cut his elbow. He did a quick field dressing with duck tape and a pad and asks me to take a look, my best guess is it needs stitches so after packing up I take him to the hospital.

On the drive Raider and I start to chat, he is a Christ Follower too and we talk about how evident God is out here on the trail and closer we feel to His presence. Raider gets 5 stitches and I take him back to the trail, we decide to meet in Daleville for lunch.

I drive into town a little later then I expected and meet the kids at the HoJo, we load up and head to the Three Little Pigs BBQ…although the sauces needed to be combined to get close to something I’m used to, it is well smoked and seasoned and very delicious!

5/2 – Day 68
Most of the northern bubble has arrived in Waynesboro, where some will be beginning their Aqua Blaze. I believe it will be Long Spoon, Laser Death Kill, Witch Doctor, Taillights, Passover, Ember and The Dude. Aqua Blazing is renting a canoe and paddling about 100 miles of the Shenandoah River. To a purist, this is not part of a thru hike, but it is all about the adventure and continuing north to most…look at me I’m going north in a van!

I met up with a few hikers and several get on their way, Tarzan is heading on without his sister Coffee Pot, who is still injured and will probably need an MRI and weeks of rest. Camaro is pushing on, as is the rest of the Walking Dead, and this frees me up to head up to Waynesboro and hang with the northern bubble for a day.

The drive is uneventful and I get there in time to take Long Spoon to a town a few miles away so he can pick up his trail instrument, a small specially made mandolin. Laser Death Kill rides along so we can stop at Walmart and pick up some material so they can make sarong (a wrap around skirt popular on tropical islands)…apparently it is has been determined that everyone Aqua Blazing must do so in a sarong.

I remember when I met these two about 12 miles outside of Franklin in early March…they were having one of their usual “debates” and I found them loud and somewhat obnoxious. I assumed they were fast hikers and I would not see them again…never would I have guessed that I would be driving in a van with them to buy material to make skirts for other hikers. Our God is a mighty God…but he has a great sense of humor!

Others in the group where on various errands but we are all hungry and it is dinner time. We walk into town to a burger place called Heritage on Main and have really good gourmet burgers! Ayce orders a burger that instead of a bun has 2 grilled cheese sandwiches!

After a good dinner, we walk to Krogers and pick up some ice cream, tonight will be movie night (watching a movie on my computer). We watch Jeremiah Johnson and eat ice cream, the ending of good day!

5/3 – Day 69
In the morning I have breakfast with Blue Moon, Larry Boy and Clark Kent (I have not seen Clark Kent since my first few days on the trail). After breakfast I shuttle them to the trail head…while dropping them off we run into Trail Movin, he is off the trail but lives in the area and is shuttling around a few other hikers.

I hang out with my friends the rest of the morning and we snack for lunch. We are hanging out behind the YMCA where you can camp for free. I say my good byes and the group is now split up between Aqua Blazing and White Blazing…there is a chance they will all come together in Harpers Ferry.

I pack up and head back to Daleville.

5/4 – Day 70
Hanging out in Daleville there is not a lot going on, I’m waiting to see what some of the more seriously injured walking dead are planning…Camaro is still on the trail but checking in daily and Coffeepot is trying to figure out her next move. I really want to head north but today just might not be the day.

I shuttle some hikers up the road and take Frost up to drop off his car at the foot bridge across the James River. His fiancé is hiking a few days with him (she thru hiked in 2005), he had asked her to marry him on Max Patch on the trail and they will get married when he finishes his hike.

Frost is carrying some nice camera gear and is shooting his own documentary of the trail. He takes a week off here and there to edit his film…he started the trail early February and was the hiker that gave Camaro her trail name.

Paraguay and Twix gives us a call and want us to join them and his parents for a deli style dinner at their motel. Coffee and I head over and we enjoy a nice visit, we catch up and get news about Daddy Long Legs, who is off the trail with a stress fracture.

I get a call from Camaro and she is going to get off the trail tomorrow near Glasgow and we now have a plan to pick her up at lunch, looks like I will finally get to head north!

5/5 – Day 71
We meet Paraguay and Twix for coffee then head to Glasgow to pick up Camaro, once there Chevy and Camaro have a happy reunion and we do a quick reorganization of the van. My plan is to head into Waynesboro to meet up with Samson who I have not seen since early March at the Blueberry Patch. Camaro is not thrilled about going to Waynesboro, she does not like to go somewhere north that she has not hiked to, but the VANIMAL is going north so she will just have to deal with it.

We pick up Samson at his motel and head into town for a burger, we see Z and Justin and they join us for dinner. Samson picks up the tab and treats everyone to their meal, it was very nice of him. We get the chance to catch up and I am happy to hear about his adventures on the trail. I get to share about my mission that God has led me to and he is happy for the decisions I have made.

I call it a night after bringing some ice cream bars back to hikers at the hotel for dessert and plan to crash in the van. Z has an extra bed and invites me to stay with him, I am happy to crash on a bed for the night!

5/6 – Day 72
I’m up early and Z needs a ride to the outfitter so I run him out there. While there we see Smooth Sailing and Dovetail. Later I run Hoosier and his friends up to the outfitter as well and basically spend most of the day shuttling around hikers.

Several of the hikers in the area are sick with some kind of stomach bug, I was going to go north and do some magic but decide to stay in Waynesboro for a day or two just to make sure I don’t spread anything north…I’m not feeling sick just don’t want to risk anything.

I visit with Hoosier and his friends and we head to dinner, we caught up with Joe the Hiker at the outfitter and he goes to dinner with us. Joe has an extra bed so I crash with him.

5/7 – Day 73
Yes, yes I’m up early. We have been having a lot of rain and the temperatures are in the 50’s which makes for some cold, miserable hiking. I spend most of the day picking up wet, cold hikers. I pick up Barking Spider and Stretch, I had met them a few days ago at Freshground’s Leap Frog Cafe. Freshground is an awesome Christian man who will set up along the trail for a week or two and serve awesome food.

On my way to get them I pick up Chinstrap and Peanut Butter and they roll with me to pick up the other hikers. When we get there Stretch is shivering and her teeth are chattering, we get her in the van and wrap her in a blanket.

I get a call from Hoosier and they have made it 12 miles into the Shenandoah’s but are wet, cold and one of the gals is having knee problems…so I head up to pick them up and take them back to the hotel.

Gypsie Soul, Why Not, and Hoosier


 

Coffee Pot and Tarzan have invited me to dinner and we are joined by Raider, the former Marine who needed stitches a few days ago.

I get invited by Rash to crash on their fold out couch at the Holiday Inn Express (a huge step up from most places we stay).

5/8 – Day 74
I’m still in Waynesboro and hoping to get north soon. Camaro and Coffee Pot have made arrangements for a place to stay for a week or so while they recover. I will be getting back on the trail for a week in the 12th to hike with my old buddy Bob, so my hikers are going to have to make it on their own!

I get a lot of the hikers back on the trail, pick up Dovetail who is feeling sick again. I hang out with Tarzan, Rash and Groundpounder after a big lunch at the Chinese Buffett.

Hikers returning to the trail


 

We grab some dinner and head back to the motel for the night, I’m sleeping in the van which is always fine with me as I get some “alone” space for the night.

 

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