Day 74 – Sunday, May 22: Stealth Camp (Big Meadows Wayside) to Luray, VA, Zero Day, 922.9 total AT miles.

It happened again – I woke up with water in my tent. This time the rainfly came partially off in the night and water splashed in (I can’t figure out how it happened). It wasn’t too bad – just enough to ensure that my sleeping bag was damp.

It wouldn’t have been so bad had it not been in the low 40s. I put on my last pair of dry socks and shivered as I slowly started packing up. I called out to McDoubles and Black Santa – they were both pretty cold as well.

McDoubles suggested heading back up to the Big Meadows Wayside after breaking camp – he wanted a hot breakfast. I agreed, telling him I’d meet him there.

It took quite a while for me to finish packing this morning – I stuffed everything that had to stay dry in a Ziplock. It didn’t matter if it was already in a dry sack, it went into a Ziplock before going back in the dry sack. I finally took down my soaking wet tent and made it to the wayside by 8:30.

McDoubles was finishing breakfast when I arrived. I sat down in the diner and ordered breakfast – Black Santa soon followed. The three of us ate and discussed our plans for the day. The rain was really coming down.

I checked my phone and saw I had a message from Savage – she was heading back to the trail this morning and wondered if we needed anything. The three of us discussed the possibility of heading into town two days early. I didn’t “need” a zero day, but I did need clean clothes and a chance to dry out my tent.

The forecast looked grim – more rain with temps in the 40s all day. That was enough for me. I texted her and asked if we could get a ride to Luray, VA, the closest town. She said her and her date would be there in an hour. Thank God.

Seriously. As I ate, I watched other hikers come in from the rain. I saw Juan approaching and walked to the door to greet him. He was in the same state as us – frigid and wet. He wanted to get off the trail as well.

I walked back to the table and finished breakfast. Black Santa, McDoubles and myself talked about our going into town only three days after taking a zero. I was perfectly fine with the decision – I’m not equipped to hike in winter-like conditions, simple as that. We all had already shipped our winter stuff home – and my Walmart sweats and Dollar General women’s yoga pants just weren’t cutting it.

Savage and her date (damn, I think it was Matt – really nice guy, I approve) arrived at 10:30 and, after they had breakfast, we were on the road just before noon.

We dropped Savage off at the Loft Mountain Wayside (she kept her winter gear – good job) before making the drive to Luray. Matt drove us to the Best Western and then dropped us off at the laundromat before leaving.

McDoubles, Black Santa and myself had lunch at a Mexican restaurant before walking back to the hotel. I layed down to take a nap.

I woke an hour later and started cleaning my gear. I found a small hole in the floor of my tent and patched it before laying it on the covered sidewalk to dry.

I was a little disappointed in myself and not in a good mood. I layed in bed for most of the afternoon letting my phone and external battery charge.

We eventually ordered pizzas – I started writing while we watched soccer on TV.

* * *

I am more than a little disappointed in myself. The weather got to me. I’ve been hiking in the cold rain for weeks – today I threw my hands in the air and gave in. I don’t like being idle. I’m here to hike the AT, not hang out in hotel rooms.

The plan is to get back on the trail tomorrow and start moving north. I’ll have clean clothes and a dry tent. The forecast calls for more rain, but with warmer temperatures. 

I can’t wait to get to Harper’s Ferry so I can return my tent to an REI – I just don’t like the Quarter Dome 2. I miss my old tent, busted rainfly and all.

I’ve been forgetting to include my food diary these past few days. My bad.

Breakfast: one biscuit and gravy, one buttermilk pancake, side of turkey bacon

Lunch: chicken fajitas

Dinner: half of a ham, broccoli and banana pepper pizza

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...

One thought on “Day 74 – Sunday, May 22: Stealth Camp (Big Meadows Wayside) to Luray, VA, Zero Day, 922.9 total AT miles.”

  1. OK, Guys, buck up, quit complaining and just do your best! You can’t control the weather so just accept it and move on. I have total confidence in all of you, especially Cool Dad! (I’m not too partial, am I?) Just think, 922.9 miles!! WOW!!!


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