The kids often do Neroes to save money. A true Zero needs 2 nights in town, arrive, stay in motel, dont hike next day, stay in motel again, leave next morning. Two nights in motel, two dinners. What they do is to stay on the trail as close to town as possible the first night, then walk the short distance (maybe 5-8km) into town the next morning, spending day in town, sleep one night in town and leave next morning. That means they do Nearly Zero (Nero) and save one night’s accommodation and one night’s opportunity to spend money on meals and beers.
Having had a great and well deserved Zero in Waynesboro on Monday, and having done only 160 easy Shenandoah kilometers (easy ito walking and easy because we could eat lots) since then, we were really not due another Zero day. But we need to get to Columbia Maryland on Friday the 14th (for the Brandy Carlile concert), so we want to leave Harpers Ferry (our midpoint, 100km from where we ended yesterday) Friday morning; getting to Harpers round midday on Thursday the 13th gives us lots of time so the Zero is an indulgence to get us out of the rain predicted for today.
Even though walking now is easy (very short and gentle ups and downs) one still gets tired after having walked 30plus kilometers a day, so by the end of our 33km yesterday our feet were numb and not prepared to help us along another 8km to get to a better point to access Front Royal (the town we planned to Zero in). So we got a shuttle to bring us to town, stayed in a motel last night, walked around town today, had real coffee in coffee shop:
We did the food shopping for the last three and a half days, then some sightseeing:
Our shuttle driver was a bit unethical. He charged us a lot of money to fetch us as said it’s quite a long drive to get to where we came off the trail, which is true (by road). On the trail it was only 2.5km on to his hikers hostel (over the hill) – he should have said to us to just walk on a short distance and then the shuttle cost to town would have been a quarter of what it was.
Anyway, we quite liked him. He is liberal, non-conventional and knows his music and history. We decided it would make sense to stay the second night at his hostel as to not have to worry how to get back to the trail Monday morning.
I then said to Trevor, as the rain was predicted to be mainly in the morning, that we could quickly do the 2.5km this afternoon (it would be 5km as we would have to walk from hostel back to where we came off trail, and then back to the hostel: honour comes at a price). Trevor thought it was a great idea as that way we could bank the miles and not have to do it tomorrow. And our Zero would actually be a Nero.
However, my proposal was based on the rain being over by this afternoon. The problem is that the rain never came this morning, it only arrived this afternoon. When we got to the hostel I was trying to get things (like laundry) organised, but Trevor was ready to do our honour miles and was rushing me.
So off we went: in pouring rain, doing our few extra miles. The trail was like a river, initially I tried to walk on the edges but eventually I just stepped into the river, which at times reached my ankles! We got soaked to the bone. At some point Trevor angrily said to me “this is ridiculous” and in my mind I agreed: we were taking a Zero to get OUT of the rain and now we are making it a Nero IN the rain! But how is this – he was pissed off with me because I suggested it, I was pissed off with him because I suggested it when I thought it wasnt going to rain….he was the one who was rushing me to get going IN THE RAIN.
Anyway – once back at the hostel we were glad we got these silly kilometers out of the way and we love each other again 😀.
By the way: a bit more about our shuttle driver/ hostel owner – Like many hikers hostel owners he thru-hiked the AT himself many years ago. He is a Grateful Dead supporter so while he thru-hiked he went off trail every time they were performing anywhere near where he was. He saw 5 of their concerts during his hike! Makes our one little concert a bit insignificant!
Though we like him his hostel is terrible – clearly no feminine touch here! It is only getting out of the rain which makes this a piece of heaven.
I was googling something on AT today and found an article written by a thru-hiker who is a journalist. It was an excellent piece of writing and the one thing he said which resonated most was that while hiking the AT, at some point during the day (for me it is between 15h and 17h) you become A BODY WALKING, nothing more, nothing less, you are not YOU anymore, you don’t have thoughts, you are just a body walking.