Appalachian Trail in the Shenandoah National Park
[Editor's note: This is adapted from an e-mail by Russ Evans. I have done some minor editing. --AD]
Bill Sublett, Keith and Gary Knipling, and I successfully completed our leapfrog adventure of the AT in SNP on the evening of June 2. The run took us exactly 36:00 hours. We started just after 9:00 AM in Rockfish Gap on Friday morning and arrived at the Dickey Ridge trail head just after 9:00 PM Saturday night. The total distance was about 111 miles and each of us covered about 80 - 84 miles apiece. It was great fun and we all had a great time. Also, surprisingly, none of us is really the worse for wear and tear - when it was your turn to drive the truck, it gave you an opportunity to address any problems before they got really bad.
We finished the South section in about 12 hours, arriving at Swift Run Gap around 9:00 PM Friday evening. It took us all night and a lot of the morning to make it through the Central section - I think we got to Panarama around 10:30 AM. We then made good time covering the North section to finish last night. We started off trying to keep our time at the roving aid station to an absolute minimum, and this worked well for the South section. As we travelled through the night, the aid stops got longer and we started to crave our turn for the truck to catch a brief nap. It was also very wet and rainy through the night. I think the time where we all seemed to struggle the most was the very early morning hours before day light - especially from Big Meadows to just past Stony Man mountain. After that, it became light, the rain went away, and our spirits seemed to rise again. It felt like we were tackling the whole North section with nearly the same energy level that we did the South section. The only difference was that our aid stops were not as quick as when we started.
The Park was beautiful at this time of year, the camaraderie of the group was always high, and the adventure turned out to be everything we had hoped and dreamed it would be. No one had to sit out when it was his turn to run and we were all successful at completing our designated sections. There were never any snafus with locating or missing the truck as we travelled along - in fact, that worked so well, we are all kind of amazed at it. The truck was a 10 foot Ryder Truck - "Big Yellow" as we affectionately called it, and it proved to be the perfect sized aid station.
All in all, a fantastic time.
PS - Of course, we didn't see any bears - Gary was with us.