Day 68 (6/17/19 ) R
Miles – 21.5
Total miles – 934.5
It was a quite night, another words no bears. The Shenandoah area is known for it’s black bears and by not sleeping at shelters, we are at a greater risk for encounters. So far so good with bears! Again, we got walking by 7:00. We wanted to cover more today so tomorrow would be shorter. Not fifteen minutes from our camp we saw a mother black bear with two cubs. She was about 50′ down hill from us and the cubs were even lower down the hill. She watched us for a bit while we watched her and then moved towards her cubs. We only had five miles to reach Lewis Camping and store. Before we reached the store we hiked through a cemetery that had both new and old graves. The most peculiar thing about this is that it is located in the middle of a National Park. The most recent grave we found was 2014 while the oldest was the late 1800’s.e The store was what we were looking for. We got a bit to eat and drinks, filled our water bottles and used restrooms. It was an hour break before we got walking. So far, the hiking through the Shenandoah’s had been easy and today was no exception. We moved quickly and hours later we came to the Big Meadow Store just in time for lunch. As we came up, ADD and Wheels and two other hikers were just leaving. Yesterday was a rare clear day despite the weatherman’s prediction of thunderstorms. Instead, today it looked as if the storms were arriving. As we ate lunch, a thunderstorm passed to the South of us. Then another passed to the north. We hiked out hoping that would be it. We left Big Meadow by the way of a road not trail. The trail would have taken us back into the trees, but the road would take us through the meadows with views. This is called blue blazing which is walking another route other than the AT. There was a rock wall paralleling the road which we walked on and made us feel safer. Road walking is always a bit nerve racking, especially around curves. Hikers have been known to be hit by cars. Many years ago there was Jane and Flika that were both killed on the PCT in the Mojave Desert.
The meadow area did not last long, however we still had open views around us, which we are longingly missing on the AT. An hour later it started to rain, not hard or long, but it did get everything good and wet. At Hawksbill Gap we took our afternoon break. The ground was wet, but a car left the parking area and left behind a big dry patch where it had been parked. We sat there in the dry gravel spot.
As the day grew late, we cut off the AT up to Skyland Lodge for water. In front of the lodge office we found a drinking fountain. We filled all our water bottles. As we were doing this it started to lightly sprinkle with lightening and thunder coming our way. The question of the cost of a room came up, so Papa Raven went and checked. It was not too expensive. He returned to ask if we should take it. Looking up at the swollen dark grey clouds, we decided to say yes. Mama Raven stayed behind while everyone else went to get a room. During this time, the thunder started and then it poured down rain. Mama Raven was quickly trying to get everyone’s packs out of the deluge. Bling ran up to help her. After obtaining the room, we all met back with Mama Raven. Everyone shouldered their packs and headed back to the lodge office and it’s large overhanging deck where we could get out of the rain. We stayed in the lobby watching the rain come down. We decided to eat dinner at the restaurant, so we stashed our packs in a back room and went to dinner. As we ate the storm broke and we had great views of the valley to the west. There was another couple hiking the AT doing the same thing we were. Finally we walked to our room in the dark except for the dancing fireflies flickering in the grass that lighted our path. As usual they mesmerized us as we walked. Mama Raven keeps wondering if people that live on the east coast realize how amazing the little firefly is or are they so use to them they do not even think about it? Anyways, we sure are enjoying them! Once in our room came showers and bed. Tomorrow we will hike 9.9 more to the highway into Luray. We really did not expect to sleep in a room tonight, but we did not want to sleep on muddy ground either. We have done it many times, but we could not pass up the opportunity!