I walked out of Daleville like I normally leave town thinking about how I'm going to miss town food and hot showers. I usually get over it in a few minutes and my desire for town food only returns periodically between trail meals. This time in returning to the trail I remember a distinct feeling of being back home. The trail is no longer a foreign place. Instead it's where I want to be, it's where I'm most comfortable being. I walk into the woods and feel like I'm back home.
Anyway, I left early in the morning walking down the road to the trail head. A women at the post office offered a ride, saving me a mile of road walking. In the smaller trail towns people know about the hikers and help out this way. I set off walking early by myself hoping to catch up to a few others after falling behind a day. In the next few days I walked a long days with the goal of getting to the town of Buena Vista.
I decided not to stay in the Buena Vista over night when I arrived, but to only get in and get out the same day. I stopped by the main hiker hostel in town called the blue dog cafe. I got a ride into town by the owner of the cafe. This was a nice cafe/hostel combination. I grabbed breakfast there and walked over to the dollar general to resupply with food for the next few days. This town was very friendly and was a great way to spend a few hours out of the heat of the day.
I pushed on doing a few more big days (30 miles a day) and got to the town of Waynesboro, VA. I stopped here to stay at the town pavilion and use the town YMCA to take a shower. I ate at an all you can eat Chinese buffet for dinner. Then, in the morning, I did my first solo hitch out of town. Worked out fine. Waynesboro was larger than I thought it would be. Was nice to get a free shower and eat a good meal.
Leaving Waynesboro is where the Shenandoah National Park begins. I've heard little about the Shenandoah's prior to starting the trail but many hikers talked about looking forward to this section on the trail. I heard there was a large bear population and places to eat almost everyday off the trail because of the large amount of tourism. I'll save the details of walking the Shenandoah's for the next update (week 9).
After eight weeks on the trail it's nice to reach a level of comfort being out here. Walking along the trail has been easier to enjoy each day and enjoying the section of the trail I'm actively walking. It's been amazing to be immersed in God's creation. I hope to continue to enjoy my time out on the trail with a daily thankfulness for what He has created.