I managed to leave before 8 am today, though not as early as I would have liked.
There was not really much memorable in today's hike from a scenery perspective, though the trail for a few miles before Blackrock Hut was really rather nice. (Most shelters in Shenandoah are called "huts"; in Shenandoah, a shelter is a covered day-use area, like a pavilion.)
The day featured mostly gradual hills and long stretches without switchbacks, so especially looking at the gps trace, it actually felt like I was getting somewhere, rather than going back and forth along a pointless up or down.
I took a somewhat long break at Blackrock Hut to attempt to dry out my very wet clothing (as well as my clothing from yesterday which I had strapped to the back of my pack to attempt to dry it out). It worked, a little, but my shirt was still obnoxiously wet, and it's not really like I could do anything about my pants.
A short distance later, at the top of Blackrock Mountain, the day's predicted rain clouds were clearly coming in. So, I started hiking (downhill) as quickly as possible. I might still get wet, but the further I could make it, the less miserable it would be.
I probably made it a few miles further before the rain started; first gentle, then pouring, so my attempts to dry my clothing today were ultimately futile, and wound up being a waste of time that could have had me hiking in less rain (though still soaked in the end).
My boots are supposed to be waterproof. They're not, the external seams around the toes busted open from constant scaling against rocks and roots. Being waterproof also means they retain any water they get very well. So when in a downpour, there's really very little to stop water from getting in, either from the top of the boot, or when sloshing through the river the trail becomes.
My boots became so wet that my feet were sloshing through water with every step, making every step that much harder, and very uncomfortable, as well.
Me, Sarah, and David made it to the Loft Mountain campground, a huge car campground, registered for a camping space (which we would also share with Training Wheels and Uno), and got a ride to the camp store (and showers, and laundry) from another camper.
The camp store had a decent selection of snacks, food, and supplies, though it was clearly more geared towards car camping than hikers. I made myself a nice dinner of a microwaveable chicken sandwich, two Hershey's bar, and soda and beer.
The store ran out of towels, so there was really no practical way to take a shower (or rather, dry off afterwards), but after being completely soaked by the rain, I didn't really feel that strongly about getting a shower.
Laundry, though, was another matter. I put all of my very wet clothes from yesterday and today in the wash (sharing the load with Sarah, David, and Uno), and sat around for an hour in my (very dry, and warm) rain gear. Once the clothes finished drying, though, it felt really good to have warm, dry clothes on.
My boots are another matter, though. Being "waterproof", once they get wet, they take forever to dry. The insoles can come out, of course, but I didn't think to put my insoles in the washer until after that was already finished, so it didn't seem like a good idea to put them in the dryer with other people's clothes. I attempted to dry the insoles with a hand dryer in the camp store's restroom, but it was one of those high-efficiency units that just blows air, with no actual heat, so it was entirely useless for that purpose. Hopefully, they'll dry out overnight, but that's a slim hope since the forecast is for more rain.
We returned to the campsite we picked out, and set up our tents. David helped out with mine since it had started a light rain by that point, and the two of us got my tent up in record time.
Tomorrow will be an interesting challenge with wet boots, but I'm sure I'll figure something out…