Mile 857.5 – Waynesboro VA – 2 if by Sea

I’ve decided to go Aquablazing. This means I’m renting a canoe to travel down the Shenendoah River parallel to the AT for a while. I’m headed out tomorrow with Shaman and Jeremiah and expect to go for maybe 5-7 days to Front Royal VA or thereabouts. Aquablazing is apparently approved by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy as an official option for a thru-hike and our feet need a rest.
The last time I went on a 7-day canoe trip was in Junior High with Mr. Graveldinger’s (our Science teacher) summer Muskegon river trip. My brother and I ended up doing 2 and 1/2 of these trips. In the middle of the 2nd of the 3 trips my uncle Dan passed away from lung cancer and our parents came and found me and Mike at a road crossing of the river. My uncle is one of the few people close to me who has ever passed away and it’s pretty sad thinking back on it as he was only 39 years old at the time. Not that I’d be ever interested in smoking cigarettes anyways, but his death certainly made sure I never touched one. Realizing the shortness of life was one of the factors which has led me to hike the AT now.
I remember Mr. Graveldinger saying “You’ll always remember this trip and you’ll look back upon it on occasion. These occasions become more and more infrequent as time goes by.” He was certainly right about that. For years I looked back to the trips and even tried to be a counselor on trips in later years but to no avail. It has been some time now since I thought about the trips at all. Being 13 years old and spending a week on a canoe is a pretty big deal. I think I still know pretty well how to steer down a river and look forward to getting back out there. Along with our canoe rental we get life jackets, a guide book, paddles, and a cooler to put in.
I got into Waynesboro VA yesterday and am zeroing today. I stayed at the free camping at the park last night and got a free shower at the YMCA just before it closed for Memorial Day. Most things in town are closed for the holiday but the good capitalist restaurants, like our friends over at Ming’s Chinese Restaurant, remain open to serve their customers. I also made it to the outfitter just before they closed yesterday and upgraded to the best water filter on the market – the sawyer squeeze – and a “buff” instead of a bandana. The buff is a stretchable material that works as a neck guard, balaclava, head cover, etc. Versatility is the best way to arrange gear choices.
I didn’t get any pictures in the last day or two because I was pushing to get to town and eat at Ming’s.
I just got into the Grace Lutheran Church hostel where I’ll be staying for the night. A bunch of people I know are staying here too – including Jeremiah, Shaman, Mooch, Rainbow Braid, Jean Geanie, Duffelminer, and Wolfman. A reunion of sorts as some of these people I haven’t seen for a few days. The hostel here is pretty nice. It actually has computers, tv, couches, a full kitchen, and cots to sleep on. This is an ELCA church. I’ve seen 4 church hostels on the trail, but no group in particular. There has been a Baptist one, Methodist, Catholic, and now Lutheran. Where are my Presbyterians? And the LCMS church here in town is a beautiful 19th century building but has no hiker outreach.