Wednesday September 6, 2000.
My body was coming back to life, awoke in the morning but had no intention to continue on the Appalachian Trail. The sites along Skyline Drive far exceeded anything on the AT. Breakfast at the Lodge brought additional fluids and substience to me. The truly rude awakening was the weather. The temperatures had plummeted to 38 that evening. Now last night’s bed and shower was truly appreciated. I hadn’t prepared for the cold, imagine being in a hut awakening to that chill and no additional warm clothing. In my case the gift’s shop warm apparel was quickly acquired. Our only problem was we still had 20 miles between us and Bill’s van patiently waiting at Panorama. Bill contemplated hiking along Skyline with a daypack and retrieve the van but without wheels and no ambition to hike anymore, we would have lost a day of potential sightseeing.
Mike and I inquired about anyone going north and fortunately the stone mason who was doing some minor masonry repairs at the Lodge was leaving early since the cold weather inhibited his mortar from drying. Once again we were in luck, this Englishman lived in Elkton at the base of the Shenandoah Mountain Range. We didn’t realize it at the time but he normally went the opposite direction to go home, he actually went an hour out of his way to take us to Panorama. The mountains must bring out the best in these people. We brought the van back to Big Meadows Lodge.
We lunched at Big Meadows Wayside. Burgers and frys. Three thru hikers were sunning relaxing just outside the store. We struck up a conversation with the guys, who were southbounders. We mentioned Corn Dog and they saw him at Harpers Ferry the previous week. He was a walking legend amongst the thru hikers. We conversed about our little adventures and some of the stories we had heard. Mike was spinning the tale that we heard at Hightop how numerous and tame the deer were along the AT. How one guy had his socks stolen off the clothes line and he ran after the deer attempting to retrieve his socks but that the deer only would turn around and mock the hiker. One of the thru hikers jokingly said it was a great tall tale, another hiker strumming a trail guitar started laughing hysterically out loud. "I was the victim of the incident".
That afternoon we traveled over 60 miles of Skyline Drive and marveled at the truly incredible views. We picked up a “white lining” hiker and he rode with us from just north of Rockfish Gap to Big Meadows. The young man’s trail name was Locomotion. He had graduated from college the previous year and had thru hiked from Georgia to Maine, losing 35 pounds in the endeavor. Now he had a job and was attempting some section hikes of the Trail. The most upsetting view is the massive tree destruction in the Shenandoah’s. Gypsy moth ravished the area and the final blow was a severe winter ice storm several years ago which snapped and uprooted mature pines and hardwoods. That evening we walked down to Dark Hollow Falls just outside Big Meadows. The falls were approximately 100 to 150 feet high but the fallen trees obliterated the once majestic falls. Once again dinner at Big Meadows Lodge.