A few folks have asked me to continue hiking adventure stories. There are a few real adventures in the work, but in the meantime, here’s what a friend and I were up to this weekend as posted on “Life at two miles per hour.”
Winter Test Drive
Shenandoah National Park, Appalachian Trail NOBO miles 917.2 to 937.2 (20 miles), January 19, 2015 — Just like a new car, it’s best to test drive hiking and camping in the winter before buying in completely. So it was with my friend and trail crew colleague. She knows her trail craft and is quite comfortable in the woods, but she wanted winter experience. She’s hoping to thru hike the AT in the future and knows that partying in the cold and snow is almost an automatic on an AT thru hike. Unlike most guys who would not admit it, she embraces her desire to learn with gusto.
So, off we went this weekend on a 20-mile, three day/two overnight, trip along Shenandoah’s most scenic vistas and popular places including Hawksbill (the highest peak in the park), Big Meadows, Rock Springs, Skyland, Stony Man, the Pinacles and Mary’s Rock.
Though the sun smiled upon us most of the time, the temps averaged in the 20s with a biting wind entering stage right and left at cheek chapping intervals. The objective was not to cover ground. It was to live in the winter weather for the better part of three days and two nights and see what we could learn.
So off we went… Enjoying the winter wonderland.
The first day’s walk terminated at Rock Springs Hut. I stayed there on my thru hike last year. It’s setting features a gorgeous view through the trees in front of a nearby cabin owned by the Potomac Appalachian Trail club.
Rock Springs Cabin
Four adult Scout leaders were using it – getting away from the boys for a weekend.
After camp chores at the shelter, we went down to the cabin to snap some pics.
On the Appalachian Trail, shelters are called “huts” in Shenandoah and “lean-toos” in Maine.
Would you believe it was cold outside?
The view from the cabin.
Sunset behind the privy.
Overnight the wind snarled with gusto, but the dawn air was so still you could hear yourself change your mind! We popped up, packed up, and after a quick meal of coffee and oatmeal, made a quick giddy up. No sense wasting time when it’s temperature is singing bass notes toward the low end of the register. Movement = warmth!
The scenery during the second day was worthy of being memorialized by the likes of Winslow Homer.
Same scene. Different vantage points.
Winter is nature stripped down to its birthday suit. Not much to hide.
Birds Nest 3, our final shelter is a party spot and not the most hospitable place. The fireplace doesn’t do much good in a three sided enclosure. The wind howled all night and occasionally spit enough granular snow to remind us who was boss.
The morning made for a quick get-away back to our cars.
All in all, a weekend marked by challenge and success.