Friday, June 7, 2013


 Shenandoah National Park Footage

5/31: 7.8 miles. Waynesboro to Calf Mountain Hut - Entrance into Shenandoah National Park. Don't be confused, a "hut" is exactly the same thing as a shelter (wooden lean-tos). They're just called huts in the Shenandoahs. Also, you have to camp at shelters in the Shenendoahs. We tented (because we're loud, and don't want to keep people up all night), but we were near privies.

6/1: 13 miles. Calf Mountain Hut to Black Rock Hut

6/2: 13.2 miles. Black Rock Hut to Pinefield Hut. Chilton (Grim's friend) joined us this night, and hiked with us for the next five days! We did normal-people hiking distances because we didn't feel like killing her. She's just too cute.

6/3: 8.2 miles. Pinefield Hut to Hightop Hut. We played Yahtzee for HOURS.

6/4: 12.4 miles. Hightop Hut to Bearfence Mountain Hut.

6/5: 11.5 miles. Bearfence Mountain Hut to Rock Spring Hut.

6/6: 10.9 miles. Rock Spring Hut to Byrds Nest Hut.

6/7: 3.2 miles. Byrds Nest Hut to Thornton Gap, and then hitch-hiking into Luray, VA, where we were picked up by Grim's family! Grim's mom had to drive with the windows rolled down because of the smell of us. This was also our last day of hiking with Chilton. But we're taking a zero here in Manassas.

Spring has come to the Appalachian Trail. There are flowers, springs to jump in, sunny mornings, and spiders. Lots of spiders. Typically I have no problems with spiders. With the exception of the time I got bitten by a Brown Recluse and had to take gigantic horse pill antibiotics to prevent necrosis, spiders and I have had a primarily non-antagonistic relationship. They don't scare me, creep me out or haunt my nightmares. To the contrary, I've always been a fan of Anansi, the trickster spider god of folklore. Sincerely, I try my hardest not to kill or injure the little 8-legged blokes partially because I fear ancient-god-like retribution. 

But now that spring is here, spiders are open for business. Particularly the business of setting up webs across nice open stretches of air to catch wayward flies, moths and thru-hikers. Like Shelob attempting to catch Frodo except in size reversal, after a few hundred feet of hiking one gets completely coated in sticky webbing. It's a little bit like trying to get down the corridor of a high-security bank vault that is criss-crossed in alarm lasers. Except instead of being able to weave through the triggers like a sinewy female movie star, I plow through with the grace of an out-of-control boulder. From a distance I'm sure I look like an insane person; I walk along completely fine and then suddenly splutter, stagger around and drag my hands over my face. 

Sometimes one will be halfway across her web when I walk straight through it, depositing her on my shoulder, scalp, or other fun places. If you've never had the experience of a spider scrambling frantically to escape the confines of your bosom, I would recommend it, if only for the pulse-quickening shot of pure adrenaline that follows. 

I have tried many different approaches to clearing the webs out of my path. First I tried slicing my hiking poles ahead of me with KARATE! CHOP! ACTION! But this only served to make the webs flutter upward and land more directly on my face. Then I tried windmilling my arms, but  I got my poles stuck in all manner of trees and bushes. Finally, I let Dumptruck hike in front of me. Success!

Privies, those outhouses near shelters, are now also full of all manner of god's finest creations. As you sit on the hole in the wooden bench, you will be gently tickled by the explorations of flies all over your naked bum. Perhaps there will also be stink bugs seeking out strange new life and new civilizations on the vast landscape of your sunburned thighs. One time a stink bug was doing just this when I flicked him off of me, sending him hurtling across the privy and landing in a thick spiderweb. A spider immediately ran out and began spinning the stunned critter into a coccoon of death. I watched this with a resigned grimace. Nothing accompanies your morning poo quite so nicely as a good serving of guilt. 

There are also a plethora of snakes, poisonous and non, that enjoy languidly napping across the trail. They are comflagued and invisible until you nearly step on them, at which point your heart will leap unbidden into your esophagus and you will stumble backward into your hiking partners with a girlish shriek. Your gender will not impact this guaranteed reaction. You will have to hike with your ears burning red with shame until someone else goes through the same snake-startle routine, and then it will be your turn to point and laugh at them as they clutch their chest and fan their face. 

We are now in the Shenandoah National Park, which has a very high level of protection for its wildlife. This means that our bear and deer encounters have also shot way up. One night we had approximately 15 deer wander through our campsite, prompting Grim to wake up repeatedly and shine his headlamp around in case it was a bear. We've also seen a bear and raccoons. The bear surveyed us from about 15 feet off the trail, its head tilted to the side like a slightly confused dog.

Over the past week we passed the 900 mile mark. It has been the four of us folks (Grim, Whistle, Dumptruck and I) as well as Grim's truly lovely pal Chilton (Margaret) who hiked with us for five days. We will miss her immensely. 

Clever Girl

We got an insanely awesome care package from my parents full of cookies, maple-flavored things, and bubbles. 


  1. Awesome video as always! Love the shot of you laughing and Dump Truck crying. Too funny! Glad you got the care package. Mom found all that great maple candy. The cotton candy has to be in the running for the best "weight to tastiness" ratio. Glad you're doing so well. Keep an eye out on those snakes...happy you have Whistle with you to point out the good ones and the bad ones. Love and miss you! So proud of all of you! Love, Mom and Dad

  2. Dear Clever Girl, I love what you do with that ipod Touch! I'm so happy that the four of you are together again:-)

    Happy trails,
    Mama Whistle