Poppin’ Da Cherry on the AT (Rated G)
Alright you pervs… No this is not a blog about me losing my virginity, so if you want a “good read” please direct yourselves to the nearest “adult shop”. For those of you who are on the Appalachian Trials website to actually read blogs about hiking, well hopefully you will not be disappointed… and for my family reading this I can hear the sigh of relief and I apologize for the scare…. Anyway…. the vulgarity is done… for now.
This past weekend my ma and I decided to get a little experience under our belts with the “actual act” of backpacking as my mom is going to be hiking 4 days with me on the trail in Virginia before I take some zero days to spend some time with my Aunt, Uncle and my two little cousins. I say “actual act” as I have been camping and hiking all of my life, but for some reason those 2 have never merged until now. I personally blame Obama… Only kidding! Calm down.. I had already hiked the section from Neels Gap to Hogpen Gap last year and loved the camping spot I stumbled upon last time as it had the most amazing view that I was dying to wake up to! So I decided that this would be the spot to pop my backpacking cherry! A little painful, but well worth every second… That’s what she said? Any who, here is the meat… I’m not even going to say it. We hiked roughly 16 miles total that weekend and, although short, was an amazing weekend.
October 18, 2014
It was like any other morning at 5am. The air was cold and you could hear the pitter patter of little feet… oh wait, those were my feet running around my apartment trying to find everything for my pack because, of course, the night before I assumed I knew where everything was and “could do it in the morning”… Oh well. After picking my ma up and driving about 2-2.5 hours we reached the parking lot for the Byron Herbert Reece trail because that was the only free and safe parking near the trail. Btw, if you want to find parking there it is best to get there before 8am otherwise you will sit for hours wishing and waiting and hoping that someone comes down soon. Luckily after an hour of waiting 2 lovely gents from Massachusetts (as memory serves… quite questionable) came down and gave us their parking spot. Woot Woot!! That certainly turned my frown upside down! After loading up with our packs we were off.
The BHR Trail was certainly a good, forceful warm up to the AT. With steep stairs and part of the trail, due to recent rain, being a river, it certainly got my heart rate up. Once we reached the fork we put our blinkers on and hung a right, north on the AT! Talk about some adrenaline pumping through my veins. The weather was perfectly chilly and with a slight wind gust keeping you dry. This was exactly what I needed after the rough morning that I had, or caused myself (tomato/tomato?). It was so A-mazing! Although the trail was hard to see at times due to the leaves falling and all the fallen trees in the middle of the trail from the tornados/storms we had last weekend, the colors of the trees were stunning. The trail itself in the section was not too bad until after you get past the Flatlands and it is all up hill to the campsite. I swear I heard my mother cussing in her thoughts, but she was a trooper! I mean, she had to raise me and my sister so she was already fit for the job.
We ended up with neighbors, 2 guys from Florida State who started at Blood Mountain and had been hiking since Friday night. Once we had lunch and rested for a bit at the campsite we decided to go ahead and set up camp, then hike to Cowrock, which was the most amazing 180 view where we ran into a father and son who have been hiking sections of the trail for years. After soaking up some sun, we headed back to camp where we ran into our two neighbors who warned us about our new “neighbors”. The way they said it had me questioning who these said neighbors where because of the looks on their faces. Is it just a family, maybe even worse a family with very rowdy kids that I am going to hear wine all night… I love kids but sometimes listening to kids wine and complain can be a good birth control. Am I right?! Turns out that a group of 10 people my age moved in. I was actually excited!! Finally some camp comradery!! They were so much fun and I learned so much like how to start a fire from hand sanitizer and lint, where and how to hang a bear bag, and the importance of eye brows! Yes, yes they are very important… You should see the very serious look I have on my face right now…. LOL want me to tell you why?? :DDD Well that will have to wait for another blog. Only kidding! Apparently, they keep sweat out of your eyes… I know you are probably disappointed now right? It really felt like a trail family out there because everyone was helping each other and offering to share food. Can’t wait for 5-6 months of it!
That night was freezing with wind gusts that would, if not for the trees, blow us off the mountain. Once we all were tucked away in the safety of our tent, I learned the hard way about really staking my tent tight because every time the wind hit my tent, my tent hit me out of my sleep, which freaked me the hell out because I would think it was someone or a bear. Eventually I found a good spot to sleep and stopped caring.
October 19, 2014
The next morning I woke up about every 2-hours because I was afraid of missing the sunrise. I felt like a little kid again waiting to go to Disney World or waiting for Santa to come so we could open presents. Finally, it was time to get up! After a bathroom relief and exposing my behind to the brutal cold winds, it was time for the show. Pretty much the whole campsite got up to watch and we just stood around watching the Earth wake up. The changes in the colors in the trees on the neighboring mountains were astounding as the sun rose from violet purple to orange. If only my phone could really capture the depth of everything… Oh well.
After, we ate, refilled on water, which the large group that was with us so kindly offered to do, and packed up, it was time to head home. The way back was overall a very easy hike. SOBO hiker beware, right after you exit the Flatlands you will hit this stone stair switch backs that felt never ending. My mom had plenty of words to say about them! After the horrid stairs it was pretty much all downhill from there. We stopped in Neels Gap where we ran into our FL State neighbors and a ton of day-hiking groups. We also got to see all the boots hanging from the trees where previous thru-hikers sent there boots to retire. Can’t wait to see mine hanging from there! Over the road and down BHR trail we went to my car where I was greatly relieved to see it not broken into ro hit, because the truck that parked next to us was taking up about a fifth of my spot… #roadrageproblems.
This truly was such a great experience and I cannot wait to hit the trail in March! Until then, happy trails!
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