Appalachian Trail Mile 969.7; Front Royal, VA

Monday, July 10, 2017 (Day 68)

I rose and began hiking around 8 am. It was a beautiful morning. It was not far to Front Royal. I did not have any trouble making it there before the post office closed. I stopped at water sources and snacked on berries. The red raspberries were my favorite.

Soon the trail became a dirt path, weaving between homes and grass covered hills, rolling out to meet the town in the distance. I squished a small, round, red berry between my fingers. It looked and felt like the tiniest of tomatos. I placed it on my tongue. I then decided that this was not smart. I spit it out and continued.

I came to the crossing of US 522, and turned to head west. There was a fair bit of traffic.  I stuck out my thumb at each passing vehicle. It was not long before a truck pulled up. The man inside pointed to the bed of the truck. I pointed to myself, with question.  He nodded. I threw my pack in, and pointed to myself once more…just to be sure. I hopped in the back. The plastic of the truck bed was a comfortable temperature, despite the heat outside. I rode alongside a pair of skis and a sealed bucket of water containing a floating, unidentifiable object.

The rushing of the wind, the curving of the road, the smiles and waves from road workers and other drivers, the joy of a free ride, the blurry green of the trees, the feeling of adventure and absolute freedom …it was all so positively blissful.

The driver pulled in to a grocery store parking lot in Front Royal. He glanced at me through his rear-view window and pointed at the store. I hopped out and waved goodbye, mouthing the words “thank you” through the closed glass window. And off he went.

Now to find the post office.

After a bit of asking around, a local informed me that the post office was about two miles down the road. Alright, I thought. I strapped on my pack and began to cut through the parking lot. The man that had given me directions was in his truck at this point, and motioned for me to head in his direction.

“It’s way too hot for anyone to be walking!” , he said. I threw my pack in the back and jumped in the passengers seat, so thankful for his kindness.

I retrieved my external battery charger from the post office and headed back in the direction of the store. This time, I walked. I sat in the bench in front of the store, ate mango sorbet in the moist heat of the day, and charged my battery. Success! It was working.

I was tired. I had not slept much the last two nights, and it was catching up with me. The Mountain Home Cabbin was very close to the trail, and reasonably priced. I phoned to see if they would pick me up. Soon I was at there little hostel. I felt very safe and at home there. I showered and chatted and slept very comfortably.

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