Appalachian Trail Mile 861.9; Waynesboro, VA

Saturday, July 1, 2017 (Day 59)

I had my pack on and was hiking by 6:07 am. Birds chirping, skies clear. Salmon and peach colored streaks of sunrise, overhead

One cannot blame a tent…an inatimate object (or anything, or anyone outside of one’s self , for that matter) for one’s actions–or lack there of.

A thick, sweet and fruity fragrance fills the air. Beautiful colors paint the ground; a dusting of leaves and fallen flowers.

I am in Waynesboro, VA. I made it to Rockfish Gap at around 4 pm. It was a merging of road and interstate. I was a tad overwhelmed at first. The cars seemed to be moving so fast, it seemed unlikely they would stop. I got my bearings, crossed a grassy divider, and stuck my thumb out to head west on Interstate 64. It was only five or ten minutes, and numerous glances of surprise, before A nice man named Tommy picked me up. We made small talk and listened to country music and he dropped me off at Kroger and told me to have a safe journey. I purchased some fruit and found my way to the YMCA for a free shower. They had closed at 4:30 pm…weekend hours. The library, just next door, was closed as well. I visually scoured the perimeter for a power outlet–nothing.

I finally found my way to the free hiker camping area. I sit at the wooden bench beneath the overhang, charging my things. I sip Budewiser’s America, given to me by a fellow hiker. I found a secluded spot in the nearby river and bathed.

There is a crowd of wanderers, here. “Section hikers”, they call themselves. They are kind enough (though one lady “hiker” swiped my beer while I was off bathing in the river).

In the evening I ate refried beans wrapped in green leaf lettuce leaves, sharing with the hiker who assisted me in opening the can with a pair of hiker-box scissors. The group of “section hikers” also sat about, speaking loudly and ordering a pizza. One offered “Ice”; it took me a moment to register that he was referring to the drug. “Nah. No thanks, man.” They definitely brought something different to the atmosphere. I wondered about their lives outside of this campground. I heard that the police often come around to kick them out. It is the cities intention that this free camping area be for Appalachian Trail Hikers only.

I had set up my tent earlier in the day in hopes that the sun would burn off the dampness it carried from last night; also, to have a relatively safe place to store my things while I walked to the store to resupply.

I was the last one to retire. I slept in the grass beside my tent. I stared at the night sky. The moon was bright, seductively peering though curvy clouds of violet and grey. The rest of the sky was clear and contrasting to the bright star-light. It was beautiful.

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