So like CCR and Tina Turner once said-we left good jobs in the city (about 3 months ago) , working for the man every night and day and we haven’t lost one minute of sleep thinking about the way things could’ve been…
This past week we took some time away from the dirt path and were rolling, rolling, rolling on the Shenandoah river. On the Appalachian Trail this is also called aqua blazing. A controversial topic. Are you a true thru hiker if you canoe part of the trail? The answer is yours. Hike your own hike, make the journey what you want to make it. We knew before we got out here that we wanted to do this. We ran into a couple our age at home, and with their dog, who did the trail before and recommended it.
We started our canoe trip in Waynesboro and ended in Luray, VA. The trip was 40 miles river and 80 miles of trail.
Virginia is one of the largest states we have hiked through so far. Because we are in Virginia for so long, some say hikers get the Virginia blues. Aqua blazing is a good way to take a break from hiking but still get miles in, and still get exercise. It’s all about balance right? We are out here every day, walking miles to get water that we need to treat/filter before we can even drink it. Carrying 30-40 lbs on our back daily, hiking 15+ miles a day – rain or shine. Our homes need to be set up every day and we we have to blow up our beds every night. Then there’s the bear bagging that needs to be done, and digging holes in order to use the bathroom…that’s just part of thru hiking…so if we want to take three days away from hiking the trail and instead canoe part of it- we will do it and not feel bad. Plus – we got to work our arms too!
Snorlax, Skye Stalker and I weren’t the only ones who went. In our group we had a total of about 18 other thru hikers. Along this journey we had Game Warden and Veto (yes Veto came back to join the fun!), Two Step, Cheesus, Google, Pinky and the Brain, Mama Bear, Stonecold, Daddy, Hollywood, Thumper, Dayman, Corn, Drag Queen, and Wrong Way.
The river was definitely not the cleanest but neither are we. The river offered many classes of rapids which made for a little bit more of a challenge with our gear and Skye Stalker also in the canoe with us. We had a successful trip and us three managed to stay in and not tip. However, some others on the trip were not as lucky. Despite others tipping, everyone had a good time.
Using a canoe instead of just our backpacks to carry our gear allowed us to bring beer, hot dogs, burgers, vegetables, chips, multiple squirt guns and of course fireworks! Sounds dangerous I know but don’t worry we washed the vegetabless and thoroughly cooked the meat… Oh and no one lost any limbs with the fireworks.
We made it to Luray and got a chance to camp for free in town behind an art gallery. In an effort to express gratitude for letting us stay for free we tried to make art with our tents by making the AT symbol. .. It was a fail. The local gym let us use their showers. It was probably my first time stepping in a gym in about 3 years. I felt pretty classy walking in with my Dollar General bag of toiletries, not having showered for about 4 days, while I passed everyone with their brand name gear.
We entered the remainder of the Shenandoah National Park in Luray and ended in Front Royal. Not even being in the park for about 20 minutes we encountered a bear. While we have seen many bear on the trail, most of them just run away. This particular bear did not run away, not even when we made loud noises to scare it away. We backed off and waited for it to eventually pass by-which it did. The Shenandoahs had places on the trail where you could get food, and blackberry milkshakes which were delicious! However I would have to say I agree with Ron Burgundy from Anchorman that milk was a bad choice… At least hiking in the heat after. It gave me a preview of what the half gallon ice cream challenge may be like therefore I will not hiking that day!
We also had a deer visit our camp the other night which Skye Stalker was fascinated with.
We made it out of the Shenandoahs and out of the rain, just in time to be inFront Royal for the fourth of July. While we may not have had the fanciest Independence day, we ensure that every day while out here on the trail we strive for that life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.