Finally saw a bear! I’d been hearing about it for 20 or 30 minutes from southbound dayhikers and from flipflopper Cheese, who was slackpacking SOBO today. It was supposedly 15 feet from the trail, just south of Byrds Nest Shelter. And in fact, it was still there when I passed through 15 minites later. Or, rather, a bear was. It wasn’t 15 feet from the trail—more like 40. But it was small, I think. I think it was a cub, or a teenager, the way it was frolicking in the high grass, with just its cute face and round ears poking up to watch me… which made me nervous that mom was around. So I kept clacking my sticks and singing songs from Rocky Horror for the next couple of miles. Conjecture on the trail is that that bear hangs out by that shelter. I warned the SOBOs who passed me (there were 10 or 15 of them, all section hikers or weekenders).
It was a great day. My budget-busting ‘hike like a tourist’ tour of Shenandoah continued with breakfast at Skyland. Coffee, with One Way and So Far So Good! I did just over 15, and got drenched in a downpour. Saw a deer, up close and personal, like they are here, plus a couple of baby bunnies. And the bear, of course.
The trail’s a little dead, but we’re close to a town and a hostel. Most people I talked to were hoofing it into Luray. I’m skipping Luray and heading into Front Royal on Saturday. That’s going to be another one of those rushed resupplies. But I’ll be out of Shenandoah, woohoo!
Tomorrow: Lunch at Elk Wallow, and either 13 or 19, depending on how I feel. The terrain was pretty gnarly today, and I did 4 miles of it without socks.
Why do bug bites itch so damn hard? I’m filthy and sweaty and bitten from head to ankles (literally; a fly bit my head right through my hat). I’m really looking forward to a shower and laundry on Saturday!