Today we planned to get on the trail by 9 a.m. and out of Bearfoot’s house. We had stayed long enough and didn’t want to impose by having her slackpack us again, as it was an hours’ drive to the park. Unfortunately for us, we didn’t even get out of bed until 9:15, oops! We got back on the trail at 1 p.m. and hit the ground running. It was still pretty hot on us and we had 7 days’ worth of food, so to say we were moving slowly is putting it mildly. There were tons of day and section hikers on the trail with it being a holiday, so we saw a ton of people the entire time. Around 4 p.m., we stopped at a stream in a ravine for a break. We were pretty unimpressed with Shenandoah so far and were tired and hot. After our break, I took the lead and walked only about 0.1 miles uphill before I ran into a bear less than 20 yards away standing in the middle of the trail! I yelled to Nokey to get his camera and we watched the bear, remaining behind her, as she walked up the trail. As she continued walking, three cubs came out from the woods playing and eating and we followed them for nearly a quarter mile up the trail until they got off into the woods. About another quarter mile up the trail, we saw our first copperhead!
Around 6:30 p.m. we were dog tired and super hot, so we walked off the trail to an abandonded ranger station to get some spring water out of a pump. The water was so nice and cold and we were dying of the heat, so we looked for a place to camp. We walked up the hill until about 7 p.m. when we found an abandoned trail or old logging road and it looked like the only level spot we’d seen in a while, so we set up camp. There was only room for one tent and we were in heavy bear country, so we hung a food bag and prepared to fit two people into a one-man tent. Shortly after it got dark, a LARGE bear came crashing through our campsite about 5 feet away from our tent! We yelled and shined a headlamp on it to scare it off and it took off towards the creek down the hill. We started to doze off when about 15 minutes later we heard another loud crash less than 2 feet behind the tent and again began our yelling. Turns out, the crash was just my trekking pole with a shoe on it falling down! We laughed about it and tried to go back to sleep. After dozing off again, we heard another loud crash yet again and it spooked us even more! It was my other trekking pole! We had a long laugh and finally were able to fall asleep 🙂 The wildlife count for the day was five bears, a copperhead, and two deadly trekking poles!