Jim, Sue, Cody, and Tater at Springer Mtn., start of the Appalachian Trail Adventure Run


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Runtrails' 2005 AT Journal
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Start: Big Meadows CG/Shenandoah NP                  
End:  Ditto (rest day)
Today's Miles:                       -0-
Cumulative Miles:           912.5
"The trail is the thing, not the end of the trail. Travel too fast
and you miss all that you are traveling for." - Louis L'Amour

View down to valley west of Big Meadows campground. Photos by Jim on 6-24-05

Mountain laurels on the AT near Bearfence Mountain 

After running/walking for 63 miles in two days in Shenandoah National Park I was one tired puppy last night. It was all I could do to get showered and eat my supper, then head for bed a bit after 9 PM. It wasn't even dark yet. I decided before going to bed that today would be a rest day.

As tired as I was, sleep didn't come easily. My right leg twitched and I couldn't find a comfortable position. My stomach was still full from supper. It took a couple hours to get settled down and I woke up several times during the night. I was hot, then cold. After ten hours in bed I didn't feel fully refreshed when I woke up.

These are the very same symptoms I have after running 100-milers! Not 50Ks, 50-milers, or 100Ks, just 100-milers.

What's with that? I did "only" about 35 miles yesterday.

Oh, yeah - must be the other 900 miles I've done recently. I am such a weenie compared to the bionic Horton, who's covering 40-50 miles a day on the PCT right now. How does he do that?? I know from reports of crew members and Krissy Moehl Sybrowski that he isn't getting the rest he needs, but he keeps on going like the Energizer bunny.

"Hike your own hike."  Run your own run, Sue.

I feel remarkably good after nearly two months on the Trail - and another two falls yesterday. Nothing hurts except the bottoms of my feet. All of a sudden, after virtually no foot problems all this time, I've got red, worn patches on the soles of both feet. No blisters, just worn skin. I've never experienced this before. I had to stop to tape the bottoms of both feet during my run yesterday and they didn't bother me too much till I got them wet in the shower. Youch! I don't know if it's from all the rocks Monday or all the running Tuesday and Wednesday.

Maybe it's just all the accumulated miles?

As in the quote above (thanks, John Morelock), I decided I was "traveling too fast" for my own good and needed to stop for a day to let my body rest a bit.


I'm sitting in the camper at the computer, looking out toward the beautiful green hillside full of trees and shrubs. Jim found a terrific site!  No one is close to us, and the dogs have lots of room in the shade. At 3,500 feet there are cooling breezes and the temperature stays comfortable all summer.

Around suppertime I was leaving the laundry near our site and saw a crowd of people looking up at that hill. Any time you see a crowd of people looking at something in a national park, you can pretty well guess they found a bear.

Bingo! He was just off the road. I didn't have a camera with me, of course. When he got close to our camper I put the dogs inside. He passed through our site, over the AT, and down the hill before I could get a shot of him.

Does a bear sighting count if it's not on the AT? I think I'll just keep count of the ones I see when I'm on the Trail, not "camp bears."

The Appalachian Trail is so close I can almost touch it - only about thirty feet away. I can see hikers round the bend and stop to read our note on the bucket of icy Pepsi cans that we left on the Trail for them. Since there are bears close by we didn't leave any food out.

This campground is the best. There are numerous sites. It isn't filled even though it's prime summer season. It's the only campground in the Shennies where you can make reservations but there are also non-reservable, first-come-first-served sites if you make a more spontaneous decision to stay here.

There are no utility hook-ups but the Big Meadows complex has plenty of other amenities for families: a lodge and restaurant; wayside with grocery, service station, grill, and store; other trails; picnic areas; nearby visitor center; amphitheater; and laundry. There are stables and horse trails just up the road and many beautiful trails to lookouts and falls nearby.

Wish I could just live here, but they frown on that!

Shenandoah has a reasonable fee of $10 per vehicle ($5 per bike) for one to seven days or you can use the annual national parks pass (Golden Eagle?) to get in. Our pass expired so we just paid the $10 this time. If you're thru-hiking there is no cost to enter the park on the AT. As in the Smokies, you need a back-country pass (free) to camp or stay in the huts overnight (instead of shelters, they call them "huts" here).


I'm anxious to be out on the Trail again tomorrow. I look forward to seeing something new every day.

I'm very nervous about running the Vermont 100-miler in three weeks. Yeah, I'm feeling pretty fit, but with all the walking I've been doing on the AT, can I maintain better than an 18-minute-per-mile pace for just under thirty hours? Yesterday's long run made me less confident, not more so. Including stops totaling about one hour, my pace was about 20 minutes per mile, if the mileage (35) in the AT data book is valid; Topo says I did two miles farther than that.

With seventy miles or more of roads, Vermont is a very runnable course. Have I done enough running to run all the downhills (not much flat at VT)? I've been trying for years to learn to walk faster on the climbs in ultras but I still can't walk as fast as Jim does.

Not having to move the camper again today gave Jim more time to do a long run of his own. He has his own concerns about his preparedness for Vermont. He decided to retrace some of the trail section I did yesterday, starting right from our campsite.

He ran south for seventeen miles to Swift Run Gap on the AT, turned around and ran back north on the AT to Lewis Mountain Campground, then ran seven miles on Skyline Drive back to our campsite in Big Meadows - for a total of about 33 miles. He loved this section, commenting on how runnable it is. He also enjoyed all the beautiful blooming laurels.

Going South, Jim was able to meet some of the thru-hikers I've talked with, like "Dusty" and "Scared of the Dark." He said there were a lot of hikers out there today. The campground got more full this afternoon, too. Should be lots of folks here this weekend, but we'll be on up the road.

It'll be nice in the morning to just go out our camper, walk thirty feet, and be on the AT. I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings!

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody, and Tater

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2005 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil