Day 70 – Wednesday, May 18: Waynesboro, VA, (inadvertent) Zero Day, 861.3 total AT miles.

I woke up today feeling fully refreshed for the first time in a long time. I attribute this to the fact that Black Santa and I stayed at a decent motel – the Quality Inn in Waynesboro, VA is the best “hiker friendly” establishment I’ve run across.

Black Santa headed down for the continental breakfast and I stayed behind to update the website. I ended up having cold pizza and Powerade for breakfast.

I was buying time, waiting for Peeple’s (Waynesboro’s department store) to open. I was (and still am) very happy with my Dollar General women’s yoga pants purchase – I needed a polyester shirt to match. I ended up buying a Nike pullover – it’s an adult small so it’s huge on me.

After Peeple’s, I walked back to the hotel and packed. Black Santa left for the post office and I headed to Kroger for beef jerky and protein bars.

As I was walking downtown (pack in tow), I received a text from McDoubles. He was showering at the YMCA and would meet us at Kroger. Savage beat him to the punch and was already doing her thing at The French Press (coffee shop).

Black Santa and I shopped for groceries with McDoubles before splitting up – Black Santa and I were going to hike five-to-ten into the Shenandoahs and Savage and McDoubles were going to stay behind.

In order to get back to the trail (without getting a direct hitch), we had to walk the mile and a half to Rockfish Gap Outfitters. Black Santa needed new shorts. I browsed the hiking boot section and found a new pair of Merrell’s I really liked. The sales rep suggested I call Merrell, explain I was an AT thru-hiker whose trail runners were starting to fall apart, and request a replacement.

An hour later, I was hiking to the post office in brand new Merrell’s, ready to mail my old pair home. As Black Santa and I made our way back into town, we ran into McDoubles at the laundromat – he was packed and ready to go. We just needed to grab Savage and we were off to the Shenandoahs.

Then it got cloudy and windy. Black Santa checked his phone and saw a thunderstorm approaching. Here we go, I said, Pearisburg all over again. It didn’t take much to convince me to stay – my experience with cold rain over the past few days was enough to convince me to join them at the hostel.

As we made the turn back into town, we passed a tattoo studio. Remember the “Blue Wolf” from Trent’s Grocery? Well, it happened. On a whim, I walked in and asked if they had a chair available – and as it goes, a seat had just opened up.

A half hour later I was getting trail ink.

Or a jail tat, depending on who you ask.

I wouldn’t be Cool Dad if I didn’t keep my promises.

It was 6:00 by the time I was done. I made my way down to the church hostel and checked in. I had a great time hanging out with Savage, Black Santa, McDoubles and Sweet Potato (she’s just behind Juan and Oriole and will hike out with us tomorrow morning).

After dinner, I stayed behind in the lobby to write.

* * *

I’m very excited to enter the Shenandoahs tomorrow – I keep hearing how beautiful it is.

Waynesboro is, by far, the friendliest town on the trail. Three times today, folks pulled over and asked if I needed a ride.

On my new tattoo: sanitation is an issue. The tattoo artist recommended I use dermawrap – an anti-microbial bandage used to treat burn victims. I’ll keep it on for three to five days and wash it normally after that. She’s tattooed a bunch of hikers with no complaints so far – what can possibly go wrong?

While the forecast says tomorrow’s gonna be chilly, at least it’ll be dry(ish).

Breakfast: Four slices of Ciro’s Pizza (sausage and banana peppers).

Lunch: one piece of McDouble’s fried chicken (from Kroger)

Dinner: deli chicken sandwiches (at the hostel)

Author: Chris Kummer

Hey y'all - Cool Dad here. Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to thru-hike the AT. It remained a nagging thought for nearly a decade - then it got loud enough to warrant my attention. So I quit my unfulfilling job(s) in Seattle and commenced hiking north from Springer in the spring of 2016. And I'm exceedingly thankful I did. The people I met, the things I saw, the gross foods I ate - not a day goes by without fondly remembering life on the trail. If you've already thru-hiked a long trail, you know exactly what I'm talking about. If you're thinking about tackling a long-distance hike, do it. Do it now. I'm probably gonna do it again...

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