Day 102 6/11/96 Tuesday 14.5 miles
Pooh, EZ, and I started the day from Thornton Gap and headed for Gravel Springs. Nexmo decided to be a tourist by visiting the Luray Caverns. She also checked out the available accommodations in Luray.
The hot humid weather made a moderate trail seem much more difficult than it was. We stopped at Gravel Springs Hut (shelter) and just like at all the other shelters the register was brand new. Only the most recent hikers had left their thoughts.
Nexmo picked us up as planned and we spent a comfortable night in Luray avoiding the afternoon thunder storms. EZ said he was having a great time and enjoying the slack packing, the real food, and good conversation.
Day 103 6/12/96 Wednesday 13.7 miles
A nice full breakfast at the motel restaurant and then back to Gravel Springs Gap. This was our last day in Shenandoah National Park. We were expecting our next set of maps in Front Royal and Pooh had a very important mail drop there as well. Pooh would be leaving the trail for a blue blaze to Paris France with his wife, and he was expecting his passport.
We pushed on through the hot humid rainy weather and stopped for a late lunch at Tom Floyed Wayside. There is a store there with great milk shakes and cold soda. Bronco and Puddin , and the Honeymooners were all under a roof area enjoying lunch as we arrived. They also decided to spend a dry night in Front Royal, so the Nexmobile was now scheduled for a busy afternoon.
Nexmo picked Pooh, EZ, and I up on schedule and we headed for the Twilite Motel. I then returned to the trail crossing and collected Bronco, Puddin, and the Honeymooners. We all settled in, took a swim, and planned dinner at a Mexican restaurant. Two sepa rate trips now required for every move kept the Nexmobile quite busy.
Day 104 6/12/96 Thursday 18 miles
Sally, who is the honey side of the Honeymooners, was clearly wanting a break from the trail and decided to stay with Nexmo. We dubbed her Sallyride. Steve, the other half, would slack pack with our group, to Harpers Ferry.
So - Bronco, Puddin, EZDUZIT, Steve, and I hiked North. Sallyride and Nexmo brought Pooh to Harpers Ferry, where he began his blue blaze to Paris. They then went to Sky Meadows State Park to set up camp.
The day was long, hot, and the elevation profile on my map was pure fantasy. We stopped at the Jim and Molly Denton Shelter and were dully impressed. It was clean, had a large deck, a comfortable Adaronndack bench, a shower, and a water spricket (Steve's word).
The PATC deserves a round of applause for doing a great job maintaining the trail and shelters in their area. We all noticed and appreciate their efforts.
We then stopped at Dicks Dome Shelter, just to see what this one of a kind geodesic creation was like. It certainly was different and luckily not used as a model for all AT shelters.
While we were trudging through the forest, Nexmo and Sallyride were very busy arranging help from two of the women that work at the park. They bent some rules and ferried all our packs a mile into the camping area, saving us extra work at the end of the day. Hot dogs again cooked over the fire and no rain led to a night of peaceful sleep.
Day 105 6/13/96 Friday 16.5 miles
My map was dated 1993 and I had the opportunity to see a 1996 map, and I must say the elevation profile on the new map is much more realistic. The elevation profile as seen from the trail, as one is sweating along, is much too realistic. This section brought back memories of Georgia and was just plain tough, especially with the heat. - After all the miles, listen to me, still complaining about the hills.
Our trail angels wiped away any memory of the tough ups and downs with a wonderful dinner of salad, spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread and carrot cake. All of us seated at a beautiful wood table and using real china and metal forks and can you believe, fresh brewed coffee to polish off the feast. Nexmo and Sallyride had wings on and we love them dearly.
This would be our last night with EZDUZIT. He was skipping ahead to Keys Gap so he could meet his wife in Harpers Ferry Saturday. The carrot cake at dinner was inscribed 'Big Chunk Hiker' to honor his previous arrival in Harpers Ferry. Last year EZ hiked from New York to Harpers Ferry and when he arrived at AT headquarters Jean Cashin took his picture. EZ thought he didn't deserve to be in the book but Jean assured him what he had done was a " big chunk" and in the book he went. EZ has affectionately been our Big Chunk Section Hiker, whose humor and story telling will be missed. He plans on a short break and will head North from New York to complete the trail.
Day 106 6/14/96 Saturday 14.1 miles
This was a hot day. The first half was a continuation of steep ups and downs with very little water. When we reached the trail to Blackburn Trail Center we all felt like heading in and staying there for the night. Magically, someone had left water jugs at the intersection and after eating a sandwich and filling our water bottles we continued to Keys Gap. This turned out to be a very good choice. The second half of this days trail was much easier and we made excellent time.
The heat and pesky bugs convinced us to eat dinner at the nearby pizza shop. Trail food was becoming only a memory. We set up camp just South of the road nestled in the trees and had a pleasant evening. We were only one day away from Harpers Ferry, which to me at least, felt like a milestone.
"Download" & "Nexmo"
Milt Webb posted this email from Nexmo to himself to the AT mailing list: Date: Fri, 15 Nov 1996 05:28:50 -0500 (EST) From: Milt Webb email@example.com To: AT Hiking List (firstname.lastname@example.org) * Forwarded by Milt * The Priest, So good to hear from you again----glad to learn that your hike was enjoyable. I'm also happy that you kept that name; from my point of view, it suits you. Puddin' and Bronco did get off at Great Barrington, spent some time out west and are right this very moment on their way to VT. They plan to settle somewhere in the greater Burlington area. As you can tell we did make it back from Florida (wishing for some of that warmth and sunshine right about now) and are both back to work. The trail is never far from our minds though. I often find myself reminiscing and/or daydreaming about that experience. Next year maybe we'll do big chunk. Who knows. Nexmo/Kathy E-mail from: Richard Kushman, 14-Nov-1996
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