The Shenandoah Valley’s newest and finest motor lodge. Near the Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway. De luxe family rooms, furnished in the traditional - television, air-conditioned - at modest rates. A large swimming pool.
When I was visiting my friend Julia in Virginia this weekend, she identified this as a red-shouldered hawk (I wasn’t sure since it’s barely got any red on its shoulders), and she’s right! She’s ever so much better at raptors than I am.
Starlings came to this country on a passenger liner from Europe. One hundred of them were deliberately released in Central Park, and from those hundred descended all of our countless millions of starlings today. According to Edwin Way Teale, “Their coming was the result of one man’s fancy. That man was Eugene Schief-felin, a wealthy New York drug manufacturer. His curious hobby was the introduction into America of all the birds mentioned in William Shakespeare.” The birds adapted to their new country splendidly.
Instead of quietly curling for sleep, one by one, here and there in dense shrubbery, as many birds do, starlings roost all together in vast hordes and droves. They have favorite roosting sites to which they return winter after winter; apparently southwest Virginia is their idea of Miami Beach. In Waynesboro, where the starlings roost in the woods near the Coyner Springs area, residents can’t go outside for any length of time, or even just to hang laundry, because of the stink—“will knock you over”—the droppings, and the lice. Starlings are notoriously difficult to “control.” The story is told of a man who was bothered by starlings roosting in a large syca-more near his house. He said he tried everything to get rid of them and finally took a shotgun to three of them and killed them. When asked if that discouraged the birds, he reflected a minute, leaned forward, and said confidentially, “Those three it did.”
I get to see Toll today. It was decided in Waynesboro. Toll is a friend and mentor that I used to work for at Masonite. He’s an amazing dude and has been very encouraging during my extreme lack of judgement, when i decided to end a very promising career to become a homeless vagabond. He met me at the Loft Mtn wayside (restaurant and gift shop) and drove me a preposterous distance to get me Mexican food. For all two of my readers, Shenandoah National Park only has one public road that one can drive through. It is over 100 miles long and can only be accessed in four locations. Toll definitely had to go out of his way to meet me. While he was flying from Atlanta driving to a business location, then driving to me, I was walking 19 miles. We managed, through fate, to arrive within 15 minutes of each other. It was amazing catching up with him. After a great meal and awesome conversation, I hiked back up to the AT for some well needed rest. Maybe tomorrow I’ll head back down to the wayside for breakfast… I love food
Every day seems to be an adventure out here. I try to be diligent about logging the miles and the locations for future ruminations, but I also want to capture all of the hilarity that ensues:
I officially met Lost and Mountain today. They are two young ladies from Maine who are thru hiking. I have seen them in gaggles of other hikers, but never interacted with them. Shortly after leaving camp they passed me. They are slack packing today(hiking with only the food, water, etc needed for a day hike) and were going to meet a relative at the road crossing into Waynesboro. Throughout the day we passed each other several times. They were leaving the Paul C. Wolfe shelter as I arrived. I ate a leisurely lunch and read the shelter journal. In the journal Bird had written of a bear enounter in the area. He stated that he was “cornered” by a black bear on a switchback. The issue was that, given his location, either way that he went on the trail would be toward the bear(not a good call). Bird offered a hiker pro tip. “If you encounter a bear, then sing ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ theme song.” I added this note to my mental tool box and moved on. About ten minutes into my hearty jaunt into Waynesboro I heard loud metallic clacking. As I rounded a corner Lost and River were charging toward me yelling, “CPT NoBeard! We’ve been waiting for you!” Apparently there was a bear that was traveling the same way that they were. Upon their second encounter the bear had stood his ground, and they were concerned about passing it. I asked if they had sang 'The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ theme song. As they had not read the journal entry, the joke was lost on them. With fervent hearts and slightly off key voices they launched into a stirring rendition of the song as we approached the place that the bear had been. LOW AND BEHOLD!! The bear had expeditiously fled at the sound of our rancor. Who knew that bears didn’t like the artistic styling of Mr. Smith?
After another boring 4 miles I hitched into Waynesboro thanks to the help of an awesome woman named Susan. Picking up thru hikers is a new hobby for her and she is too sweet to help us out.
Almost half way through 😊. Just got off the north fork of the Shenandoah river. Paddled from Waynesboro to Front Royal in a canoe 🛶. The 96 mile paddle usually takes 6 days but our ambitious group did it in 5 days. A Taking a zero today to regroup and will hit the trail tomorrow. Plan is to make it to Harpers Ferry by Thursday. This will be a significant milestone as it marks the psychological mid-point of the journey.
Time is extremely interesting. There are times when I feel like I have been hiking forever and there are other times when I feel like I am just starting the trail. The 22nd will be my 3 month anniversary on the trail. Imagine hiking for 3 months in the rain. Currently getting major thunderstorms with flash flooding in the afternoons. I have stopped wishing that it would stop raining as it appears that it is going to rain pretty much every day. Not complaining just making an observation.