You may recognize that as a verse from Fire by the Ohio Players, and the line above I’d say is applicable to my lovely wife La Tanya, which it certainly is, but my reason for writing it is different, forest fires. I hear the trail is closed in less than a few miles from where I now am, Luray, Virginia and I need figure out alternative plan, immediately. There is no reason for me to continue on that mile, only having to turn about and backtrack… and figure out the alternative path. The outfitters here in Luray, Appalachain Outdoors Adventures, (the only outfitter so far along the trail I’ve had a good experience with) said that there isn’t any alternative route blazed so skippin this part of the Shenandoah may be my only option. And as for news other than that?
I’ve resigned myself that I may have to flip-flop. A “flip-flop” is when a hiker at some point, often Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia gets transit to Baxter State Park in Maine and then continues their journey south to finish where they left off. With my slower pace and enjoyment of the journey, this might be my only option. Many of those who’ve passed me speed along the trail with their ipods in their ears and their youthful exuberance pressing them on to an ending. I’m not here for the finish, I’m here to “take the long way home” (queue Supertramp now). Not that there’s anything wrong with speed, to each their own, but I’ll get there when I get there and I’m in no particular hurry. When I get back I’ll be a family man for the next 20 years or so, might as well be laid back now- besides, our kids Won’t be old enough for me to make them carry my stuff for a time or two…
The terrain in the Shenandoah’s has been easier, softer and less rocky than much before it, but as always with these popular parks there’s an abundance of oppressive rules for the thru-hiker. At least here, unlike the Smokies, we are able to camp in other areas besides a shelter site. But, still we must be so far off the trail, away from such and such, so on and so forth. After a long day hiking the last thing I want to do is go bushwacking for a few hundred feet to find a clear, level spot and remember from whence I came in the morning. Luckily, today’s mail pickup of a replacement water filter from my wonderful wife dictated a slower pace and I was able to camp near shelters each night- although the tent sites that one is required to use don’t accomidate a hammock, and I got rid of my sleeping pad with my tent, so shelters are useless.
And the bugs in Virginia are worse than they are in equatorial East Africa, and can bite through my long sleeved base layer so that’s no fun, and Israeli style cous-cous and quinoa have become my staple foods. Absent the toxic FDA approved food additives (like arsenic in chicken feed) I’m happy with the change and given the change am happy that I’ve kept my 18 year old MSR Whisperlite stove so I can simmer things for 15 minutes without a problem or spening too much in the way of fuel- I’ve gone to burning only unleaded gasoliine, at .47 cents or so a fill up you can’t beat it (but for supporting the fossil fues industry.)
Much to do and time is short, thank you for your support, God bless and spread the word, Appalachia can’t win this fight alone!