Waking up, I immediately noticed a lack of energy from not eating my ramen last night. Another hiker pointed out that, with my dinner of Mac and Cheese and Ramen, I'm basically carbo-loading every evening. Which is not a bad way to prepare for a hike.
Fortunately, it was only five miles from the shelter to Rockfish Gap, where the Blue Ridge Parkway ends and Skyline Drive and Shenandoah National Park begins, and a not terribly difficult section of trail either, so I managed to get there without too much difficulty.
Coming up to the road from the trail, there was a notice listing a number of local trail angels who give rides for free. I took a picture for reference, but before I could call someone for a ride into Waynesboro, Steve (who also happened to be the first name on the list) pulled up to the trailhead to drop off another hiker, and me and two other hikers who were waiting piled into his truck.
I got dropped off at the Kroger and got food to make it through Shenandoah to Front Royal. I couldn't find everything I wanted, but found reasonable substitutes for most of it.
Despite recommendations for the all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet, I elected to grab lunch at Heritage on Main, a self-described "hiker-friendly" bar with a rather nice beer selection. I got their special of the day, a steak sub that was overflowing its roll. As advertised, the staff there was friendly. When I was musing about how to get back to the trail, they gave me name and number of a trail angel who lived on the same block as the restaurant.
I gave him a call (he was actually the third name on the trail angel list), but he was 45 minutes out of town, still on his way back.
I called the next angel on the list, John, who, it turned out, was a few doors up the street at another restaurant getting lunch. I joined him there and we chatted for a bit until he was done with his lunch.
On the way out of town he also dropped off Legs and Verge (whom I also ran into at the Kroger) at the movie theater. Even hikers have entertainment needs!
By the time John dropped me back off at the trailhead, I had only been off the trail for 3 hours and 45 minutes, a record short time spent in town (and also the first time I went into town and left on the same day).
The afternoon was much hotter than the morning, and it was slower going to the shelter, mostly uphill, though not terribly difficult terrain. Because I went into town, I didn't arrive at the Calf Mountain Shelter ("only" 12.7 miles down the trail from where I started) until after 6 pm. The shelter itself was full, and there wasn't much in the way of tentsites left, but I still managed to find a place to tent.
My clothes were completely soaked, so I wound up having to change clothes in my tent before doing anything else. I wound up not finishing dinner until almost 9 (partially delayed by my participation in a game of Uno with Sarah, David, Training Wheels, Uno, and another hiker whose name escapes me at the moment).
Tomorrow, I'm shooting for the Loft Mountain Campground, about 20 miles ahead, so I'll want to leave as early as possible, especially since they're calling for thunderstorms.