Opie and I sadly had to return to the trail today. However, Laura did offer to take us to resupply, and at Trader Joe’s nonetheless! They may have had limited resupply, but I’ll be damned if I wasn’t going to be hitting the trail with the most unique resupply on the entire trail: I got sunflower seed butter,  and freeze dried mangos and blueberries, and mass produced naan, and organic mac and cheese, and the list goes on.

We were dropped off at Rockfish Gap Outfitter, just on the Eastern side of Waynesboro, where I was able to exchange one of my completely useless trekking poles for another via Hiker Box. I ended up meeting some guy named Pacemaker who, to no surprise, was quite a speed demon.

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Da weekend crew

Of course I had to make one last stop by Alex’s food truck (I lost track of how many times I stopped by this truck total, but let’s just say I ate the entire menu in several sittings). And of course I packed out a torte and guarache, when am I going to be able eat these again? By this point, Alex called me out by name when I walked up to order my food. I need to get the hell out of this town…

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After grabbing my grub, a lawyer gave me a hitch back to the trail and gave me his contact info in case I needed anything. Perhaps Elise and I will slack pack when she comes up to the Shennies?

Finally, I was able to start the Shennies!! I hit the trail running rapidly, stopping by the info board briefly to scribble some slightly accurate information on my registration tag that I attached firmly to my back pack.

Name: Croc Rocket

Destination: The End

Duration in park: Infinite

Method of Travel: Rockets

Home address: The Appalachian Trail

Who reads this stuff anyway?

Seriously though, I thought, they should know I’m a badass hiker by now. They should read “thru-hiker” and ask no further questions. In fact, they should have a checkbox at the top of the registration tag that says “If thru-hiking, please check here and skip to signature line”.

The entire 7.4 miles, I hiked slowly and stealthy to try and catch even the slightest hint of a black bear. So far no good. Maybe they just don’t like hanging around by the side of the interstate, which would make sense. I finally roll up to camp to what appears to be tents covering every square inch of decent camping spots.

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Maybe there will be one behind this…

PRO-TIP: While hammocks can hang over virtually any type of terrain with the help of 2 trees, pitching a tarp is an entirely different matter. Just like the rain-fly of a tent, hammockers deploy a tarp over the top of themselves while sleeping to prevent the user from waking up in a pond half way through the night. That being said, on a clear night a hammock can be hung just about anywhere. On an iffy incoming-storm night, best to find somewhere with ground that can hold a tarp down.

Realizing that I had no luck in finding a decent spot to hang with my tarp, I opted for risking rain exposed in my hammock and running to the shelter as a last resort. I was fortunate enough to find 2 trees by the side of the shelter that would serve their purpose (if only ever so briefly).

Once I got set up in camp, I pulled out my booty from Alex’s taco truck. Soon, all eyes around the fire pit were eye balling me with envy, even the section hikers who had just started their first night on the trail. The guarache was to die for, it’s thick corn-flour tortilla smashed into lengua with onions, cilantro, lime, and a hint of queso. I certainly felt that this would be the last time I recieved mexican food of this quality for a long time.

After our meals began to fill us, I turned around to face the bear poles that guarded our food sacks against the furry fellas. The concrete casting the large metal pole was set in vaguely resembled a stripper pole. “I wonder if momma bear ever climbs up there for the papa bears to come and watch” a child’s voice inquired in my head. I laughed out loud to myself. When everyone in the circle glanced up at me, waiting for comment, I simply shook my head. Looking over at the pole, I mentioned the imagery of the bear pole being a stripper pole and got most of the camp rolling with laughter. I thought it was quirky, but apparently that was good material. I’ll have to save that for a later date.

As I wrapped up in my hammock, everyone from the shelter was warning me that the rain was gonna be coming. I blew them off, trusting my own instinct, until slowly but surely the drop frequency increased from non-existent to maching gun fire in less than 30 seconds. I simply abandoned the hammock, thinking to myself that it would dry relatively quickly tomorrow, and cocooned in my sleeping bag and made like a chipmunk for the shelter. All was well once I was inside, and I slept like shit like I always do when I sleep on the hardass floor.