Location: Shelter south of Waynesboro, VA
I was in and out of Waynesboro today for supplies and badly needed chores. I hiked seven miles in the gray morning to get to the road that leads into town. I beat the rain fortunately. I had planned to first visit the Office of Tourism to reference a list of Trail Angels in Waynesboro who would provide me rides to and from town, which was five miles away from the AT and the Office of Tourism. However, when I walked into the parking lot, a man in a Jeep offered me a ride. He, Bill Gallagher, is an officer with the PATC. He drove me to the bank and then dropped me at the YMCA. He gave me his card so that I could call him when I was ready to leave town.
I didn’t have to pay the two dollars to shower at the YMCA, perhaps because the woman at the front desk thought I should hurry to the showers before my stench began to cause the paint to flake from the walls. I had not showered since Harper’s Ferry, nine days prior to Waynesboro. There were showers in the Shenandoah, but I didn’t have a single dollar bill to get quarters and there were no ATMs.
After my shower, I went to the laundry mat. My clothes needed a wash as badly as my body. While my clothes dried, I walked across the street to Weasie’s Home Cooking for an afternoon breakfast. My order, the size of it that is, made the waitress giggle with some old ladies in the restaurant. Four plates were set in front of me, and the only things I left on any of them were crumbs and pools of syrup.
I checked my E-mail at the public library and read that Plays with Bears is off the trail. After visiting with his parents and grandparents at Harpers Ferry, he returned to Georgia with the AT only half completed. Everyone knew he wasn’t going to make Springer. It was only a matter of time, sadly, that he would stop. I have all his contact information in an earlier journal entry, but I don’t know if I’ll ever speak to him, especially if I’m lucky enough to finish.
I called Bill for a ride back to the trail after getting my mail drop and shopping a little. The rain had been on and off all afternoon, but I heard from a local man that the forecast called for snow at higher elevations tonight. On the way out of town, Bill and I stopped at the outfitter. I bought a new pair of socks and refilled my fuel bottle. Bill dropped me at the trail and I promised that I would send a few emails to him along the way.
I left the road for the woods quickly because I was afraid that the rain might start again before I reached the shelter, about five miles down the trail. After a couple miles, I met an attractive blond girl jogging towards me. She was nearly my age, maybe older. She was tall and slender, and she looked pretty even though she was sweating and red. We exchanged hellos and she said she had seen me in town. After a brief conversation, we continued again in our own directions. I put my headphones on and turned up the volume. About a half mile down the trail, I thought I heard something in the woods. I thought I heard a child’s voice. I looked around as I walked and then spotted the blond girl running after me. She was nearly out of breath as she spoke although she had walked the last couple hundred feet to me. She invited me to her apartment in town for a dinner party, promising a great meal and a warm bed. ‘No thanks,’ I said. No thanks? What a brain fart. She was stunned that I turned down the invitation. She probably hasn’t ever been rejected by any guy in her life. I don’t know what came over me, but I suppose I have reached a point in my trip that I prefer the woods. Still, I couldn’t believe my own voice when I responded to her second invitation with a list of excuses. ‘I thought it would be pretty tempting,’ she said. ‘Oh, it is tempting, but I’m trying to catch some other hikers,’ I said, although that was a lie. I guess I didn’t want to be the novelty at the dinner party, having everyone asking me the same dozen questions until I was sick with conversation. I’m kicking myself for says no. I don’t know what came over me, but I certainly learned long ago to always accept invitations from pretty girls.
When I reached the shelter, I was sulking noticeably. A hiker, Wrongway, commented on my demeanor. I told him what I had done, and he said, ‘You fool!’
Wrongway is a flip-flopper. He started his hike at Harper’s Ferry and hiked to Katahdin. He has returned to the south to hike from Harper’s Ferry to Springer. He carries the same pack that I carry and just about as much good for four days as I do for six. We talked some over dinner, but I wanted to get to sleep in a hurry so I didn’t have to think about what could have been in Waynesboro.