May 20, 1998

5/20/98 Mark Jewel's cabin

19.8 miles (910.5 total)

Just couldn’t sleep much this morning, so I got up early and read. Soon every one else began to wake. We’re all pretty excited because doing a 20 mile day will put us at Mark Jewel’s cabin (with his offer of showers, etc.).

I got out of camp by 7:30 and putting in a good pace. The weather today is cooler, overcast and very windy. Wonder if we’re going to get another thunderstorm. Arrived at the Big Meadows Lodge about 10:30 (8 miles/3 hours) only to find the restaurant closed for lunch and told that the wayside is a mile down the road. So here I sit writing in my journal waiting for the others.

Smiley and I walked the extra mile to the wayside for a sandwich because the lodge was closed for lunch. Spent way too much time there. I honestly thought the rest of the gang would be way ahead but when we got back to the lodge, there they were.

Taking a break with Piper

By the time we left, the sun had come out and it was getting warmer. Hiked again with Piper all the way to the next shelter. While lounging on the porch swing (a definite shelter must-have), Piper and I had a great discussion of science, religion, people and possibilities.

Didn’t leave the shelter till 4pm. Pushed fairly hard to the next lodge, Skyland. Some would think all these "waysides" would interfere with our enjoyment of the trail. But we are definitely unimpressed with the Shenandoahs’ and this park. The trail passes the Skyland stables first. Such a poor utilization of land - and it looked terrible. Had an expensive beer with Piper in the "taproom" while Veto shared a glass of wine with some Swiss tourists out on the deck. We had thought the others were stopping here before heading to Mark’s but we couldn’t wait any longer as it was getting late. Turns out they were ahead of us.

After some tough rocky but short hills, we found Mark’s cabin. But his roommates were totally against us even coming inside. Mark was mortified and kept apologizing. We were happy just to have a flat spot for our tents and the chance to do a 20 miler instead of a 26.

One weird thing happened today. As I’m walking, two older ladies out for a day hike are going the other way. "Are you one of those people hiking to New England?" When I said yes, they wanted to take my picture - but only that. No questions about who I was or where I’m from or anything. Gave me goose bumps for a while after they left.