It was our special privilege to host four Appalachian Trail thru-hikers last week … what a great crew! Kerry (“S’Rocket”) and I had worked together for four years in a past life in Boston and it was a huge treat to reunite and get to meet her hard-core hiking pals, Dip’n'Sip, Why Not, and B-Line. (No, not their real names. Everyone on the trail gets dubbed a wacky trail name once they set out.)
Unfortunately/fortunately, the week they arrived was a wet one. We were so glad to be able to offer shelter! After 900 miles of hiking, I’m sure anything with a roof looks pretty good. From lunch at Clementine, dinner at Capital Ale House, and stops at Strite’s Donuts and the Shops at Dayton, we discovered that Harrisonburg is a pretty prime place to refuel… but perhaps we’re not surprised.
If you’re like me and enjoy hearing from people living a big adventure, check out their trail journals and subscribe to their updates! They just hit the halfway point (Harper’s Ferry), which made the Inn the perfect place to get a good night’s rest and gather together the mental momentum to knock out those last 100+ miles before the next big milestone – about a week’s worth of trail time away.
Here are a few excerpts from their blogs – you can click their name for pictures and more updates:
I’m not going to say we were dodging drops, but the visit with Julie and Jonathan could not have come at a better time. I have been looking forward to this visit since I started … All four of us smelly hikers were welcomed and treated to the best-of-the-best. Wayne, the owner, was extremely generous to let us stay and Julie and Jonathan made sure we had everything we needed … Before we headed out Jonathan cooked us an amazing breakfast – they made it hard to leave and get back out in the rain.
Lucky me again for having well connected hiking partners. Srocket’s friend Julie and her husband Jonathan manage the Stonewall Jackson B & B in Harrisonburg, VA … Perfect timing for it was a day that rained all day long … We went to a place for dinner that had 100 beers on tap [Capital Ale House]. Pretty hard to choose from that many. I had a virginian porter that was great. Shower and clean clothes again. I love it. The inn is an old house built in the 1850s and has 10 unique bedrooms. Very cool. … That bed was awesome. I slept til 8:15. Jonathan cooked us breakfast at 8:30. Yummy french toast, eggs, bacon, and fruit.
Sometimes it just rains. It’s the Appalachian Mountains and it rains a lot. You still have to hike. “No rain, no pain, no Maine.” Starting in the rain from a town is particularly hard because every instinct you have says don’t go. It’s easier in the woods because you’re wet and cold and only hiking will warm you. Today we leave from a warm cozy B&B and it will be tough. After a couple of miles it won’t matter and we’ll just cruise along, happy to be out and on the AT!
Day 72 + 73. Today we are meeting up with Julie, one of Srocket’s friends, who runs a B&B in Harrisonburg and has offered to host us for the night. We met her at a picnic ground just off the trail … The B&B that she and her husband run is called the Stonewall Jackson Inn and is a beautiful four floor inn. Everything is Civil War themed. Dip’n'sip and I are staying in the Ulysses S Grant room, while the ladies are in the Belle Boyd room (she was a famous Civil War spy) … It rained even harder after we got off the trail. It is nice to have the excuse to be under a roof. Supposedly there is a hurricane moving up the east coast and we are going to have rain for a few days straight. We spent the afternoon doing our normal errands. We did make a pit stop at a street vendor [Strite's] for some fresh donuts. I can honestly say they were the best donuts I’ve ever had … They are all handmade … The guy ran out of bags when I ordered and had to give me my order in a giant box. In recompense he gave me a bunch of extra donut holes. I suffered through this ordeal stoically … We also got to stop at a Mennonite whole foods store [The Shops at Dayton]. These are a real treat whenever we find them as they have a lot of dried goods allowing us a little more variety in our diet … For dinner we went out to a great restaurant that has a ton of beers on tap. The food was fantastic and the beers were awesome. The “ring of fire” burger was supposed to be very hot but when it came out I didn’t think it was that hot. The waiter came back with a sauce to add to it that would “melt my face off.” They made a pretty good attempt, it was reasonably spicy. Good food, good beer, good bed, great day … I slept fantastically last night. We woke up this morning to an amazing multi-course breakfast. Jonathan, Julie’s husband, is an excellent cook. The French toast that he made was definitely the best I’ve ever had. The rain that started yesterday still hasn’t stopped and we were very slow getting back on the trail. Julie and Jonathan, thank you so much for an amazing trail stop. The food was terrific, the accommodations were awesome.
If you’re interested in taking a break from the trail – whether hiking all the way through or not – we have a special add-on package for hikers. We picked these hikers up off Skyline Drive at the South River Falls picnic area, which is probably your closest bet for exiting the trail.