Once again, we hit the trail early, this time about 6:50. We checked out the elevation profile, and we were going to have a LOT more downhill than uphill today, so figured we would be making good time. The next town that we wanted to resupply in was Front Royal, and it was only 15 miles away, so if we wanted to, we could make it for lunch. We would be staying overnight in town for laundry and shopping (and or course, showers).
Keith was also wanting a haircut, and Swamprat was really wanting to see a foot specialist about the pain he has been having for a long time with his achilles tendon. It really hurts him everyday, but especially after lunch. It seems that once we sit for a lunch break, it just really tightens up and hurts badly the rest of the day.
We expected to see animals this early in the day, but did not see any. The mountain laurels are still blooming, but nothing like we were seeing a couple of weeks ago. Several areas we passed through had the most amazing trees. They are SO much taller than we normally see - easily twice as tall, and twice the diameter of what we are used to. When you hike through these, the forest canopy is SO much higher, and it just changes the feel of the forest. It's very impressive. It's a shame we can't see trees this age more often.
We paused at a gorgeous overlook called North Marshall Mountain, and before long, found ourselves leaving the northern boundary of Shenandoah National Park. We were actually anxious to get out of the park. It was beautiful, and we enjoyed hiking through it, but the trail itself just doesn't pass by much - not too many overlooks, and there is not much water near the trail. I know there are waterfalls and swimming holes, but the AT does not go by them at all. We also had packed less food than normal, because we knew ahead of time, that the waysides and lodges were near the trail, and we could eat there, but once we arrived at them, we were surprised at how expensive a hamburger was! We definitely left behind a good chunk of change in that park. We were also anxious to leave the park, because it meant we were very close to getting out of Virginia, which was a large part of the overall AT mileage.
We stopped about 6 miles short of Front Royal, to take a short break in a parking areas, and Swamprat let us know that he was really hurting, and that we should go ahead, and he would catch up. We were still hoping to hit town before 1 (for that lunch), and so we headed out. We didn't even hike 30 minutes before Keith got a text from Swamprat that said he was already at the hotel in Front Royal! He had decided to hitch a ride, and get himself to the foot doctor. His wife had called and arranged to get him a 2:30 appointment. (The doctor ended up diagnosing achilles tendonitis, and prescribed stretching and Ibuprofen, and basically told him he was crazy to keep hiking, but knew that he would.)
Keith and I hit the town right at 1, hitched a ride fairly easily, got checked in, and cleaned up, and decided to divide and conquer, so he and Swamprat went to the grocery store, and to find a barber, while I headed to the laundromat.
Unfortunately, my information was incorrect, so I walked a half a mile in the wrong direction, before finding out that the laundromat was the OTHER way. Once I got in there though, it turned out to be probably the nicest one I had been in yet. A husband and wife owned it, and were there full-time. They also operated a dry cleaner out of the front of it. I kept putting money in their machines and getting a totally different product to come out than what I wanted. I thought it was kind of funny. I would push the button for an orange Gatorade, and a red one would come out (not my favorite). The funny thing is, a red one was not even one you could choose from. Then I went to the detergent/softener machine. Same thing - I pushed the button for Snuggle and a box of Bounce came out. Once again, Bounce was not even a choice. And besides, everyone knows there is not substitute for Snuggle.
Keith started texting me that they were all done and getting hungry, and so I packed up the clean, dry clothes (so lovely) and trekked back to the hotel. Once I got there, I discovered my travel wallet was missing! Yikes! Although my husband would probably disagree, I am not one who normally loses things. I was, however, very aware of how very tired I was, and was trying to backtrack in my mind, and worried that I was so tired that perhaps I had done something stupid like throw it in the trash with some other things I had thrown away. I quickly headed back to the laundromat (which was empty while I was there), and the owners helped me look around, but told me no one else had been in since I had left. I also watched the ground carefully as I walked, and even went into a couple of stores along the way just to ask if anyone had turned it in. Luckily, it only had 3 things in it - my driver's license, my health insurance card, and my Appalachian Trail Conservancy membership card (lol). I had given Keith my debit card earlier in the day. I started to worry about how I would board a plane with no ID.
I went back to the hotel with no wallet, and the boys helped me sift through the laundry, but we decided that it was gone for good, and went on out to eat supper. After supper, we were on the elevator, when all of a sudden, it occurred to me that I did not have any pockets at the laundromat that day, and was worried about losing my wallet, and so had tucked it in the front of my sports bra! I reached in, and sure enough, there it was. The guys nearly strangled me, and then we all had a good laugh. They just don't understand having to operate without a purse, and the problems this presents. (I don't think I'll live that down anytime soon).