View Full Version : Finished my trip from Harper's Ferry!

10-24-2017, 10:56
I just wanted to say that I completed my SOBO trip thru the SNP the other day, and I want to say thank you to everyone here who helped me with my planning and questions by offering their tips and experienced advice.

It was a great trip, and the sum of my experiences over just those 16 days seem like they must be a perfect microcosm of the AT hiking experience:

I started with an excited nervous energy that devolved into utter, dehydrated, frustrated exhaustion by the end of the first day. I had mornings when I couldn't wait to get going, and mornings when I really didn't want to get out of my bag.

I had packed and prepared for autumn in the mountains; what I got was mid-80's and humidity off the charts. Then rain. A lot of rain. Wind that snapped several trees. Then temps just a tick below 32. And then glorious, beautiful, perfect sunny days.

I totally (and I do mean totally) underestimated the Rollercoaster. Whether it was the ups, the downs, the heat, the rain, or the fact that I forget I'm 55 years old, that stretch really tested my resolve. Hiking in a loose bubble of like-minded souls having the same struggles made all the difference.

My "plans" or "schedule" or "itinerary", whatever you want to call it were shot after the 2nd day -- something that I was prepared for (because you know what they say about plans), but I still found myself mentally struggling to be okay with that. It actually took me about three days of real introspection to let go of all the angst that said "I'M NOT DOING THIS RIGHT." Once I turned that corner, everything became truly enjoyable -- even, perhaps especially, the unplanned parts.

After being soaked by sweat and the epic rains of a former hurricane, and the temps gloriously cool in the mid-60's, I found myself atop some high ground realizing that I was getting chilled...and that there was no way I could move fast enough to warm up. I knew my sleeping bag & night clothes were dry (if damp), but I agonized and finally made the decision to climb down to Sky Meadows State Park to see if I could get a spot and a fire started. (Knee-crushing descent, beautiful little park, btw.) When that didn't pan out (sites were flooded), I walked to the park office and called for a shuttle -- and the office staff gave me THEIR hot tea and homemade cookies while I waited. I thought I had "failed" again (by getting off the trai), but was privileged to sit in a rocking chair, sipping hot tea, overlooking a postcard view of Virginia farmland. I wouldn't have that memory if I had pressed on because of some obscure thought that I "should".

Sharon Johnson from Front Royal picked me up and drove my wet, smelly self all the way to Skyland Resort (where, providencially, my family had checked in for vacation.) She was delightful; I hardly wanted the ride to end.

After a big burger, a cold pint, and some drying out, my partner promptly drove me back to the nearest trailhead and told me to finish what I'd started or I'd pout for the rest of my life...and so I was able to slackpack a couple days and get my confidence back. I hiked every mile I planned -- except for roughly 6 miles that were closed to backcountry camping because of a bad bear. A nice family zipped me down the road to the next trailhead so that I could find a place to sleep for the night.

I met wonderful people every day. I realize that for many here, the SNP is too crowded and too noisy and too "civilized" for their hiking tastes, and I understand that. But the beautiful land and beautiful views mixed with meeting people of every possible demographic and description, all of whom were smiling, joyful, curious, encouraging, and genuinely interested and excited about my (and others) adventure...well, it was a much needed respite for my cynical soul. Regardless of all the things we DIDN'T have in common, the one thing we DID have in common right here & now was sharing this particular experience. Nothing else matters.

Whew.... Sorry this turned into such a long post. I hate long posts. But I wanted to say thanks to WB, and share a little of my happiness.

Hoping to plan my next adventure soon.

10-24-2017, 11:13
Thanks for sharing. Any time on the AT is an adventure!

Rain Man
10-24-2017, 11:35
Congrats TwoSpirits! So nice to meet you at Blackburn!

10-24-2017, 11:38
Congrats TwoSpirits! So nice to meet you at Blackburn!Thanks Rainman! Meeting you and your wife (and Boone!) was a highlight for me! I said it before, and it will always be true: you are an inspiration.

Thanks for the smiles!