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Backpacking, Hiking, Life

Backpacking to Harpers Ferry on the Appalachian Trail

I told you we are hooked! We sprung for a full weekend backpacking trip instead of just an overnight and we conquered around 17.5 miles mostly on Saturday and Sunday due to a late start on Friday. Ideally we would have hiked from the I-70 AT trailhead but that would have been 7 miles night one and we just didn’t have the daylight to accomplish that. So the plan was to leave at 3:40ish from Brady’s work, drive both cars out to Harpers Ferry, park and then take one car up to Washington Monument State Park and then start the hike from there. That would have gotten us there by at least 5:30 pm and been just under a 4 mile hike to the shelter for our first night. 

That was the plan. 

Hanna, my sister, was going to come with us for her first backpacking adventure and sleep in our tent while Brady and I were going to try hammock camping. We were expecting 2 Amazon packages to arrive that afternoon containing the second hammock, the tarp, and two 64 oz Sawyer squeeze bags for our water filter. Usually it gets delivered between 2:30 and 3:30 but we were still waiting on it to arrive once Brady got off work so we decided to delay for a little while and hope it came before we left. We played a card game and when it still hadn’t come, we decided to just go knowing it would probably get delivered a few minutes after we left. As we were walking to the door with all our stuff, guess what was delivered! 

Finally we were on our way but since we were leaving later, we knew we were going to be dealing with heavier traffic trying to get out there. We arrived in Harpers Ferry around 6:30 but the signage for where to park was very unclear. We ended up parking at the Cavalier Heights Visitor Center but even that was frustrating because signs said we needed to pay and you could only park overnight with a permit… but there was no one there to pay! We ended up finally leaving at 7, without paying, to drive the 30 minutes up to our start point. Since we were only going to have 1 hour til sunset, we parked on Reno Monument Road in a small dirt lot and started the mile hike in towards Rocky Run Shelter.

 

When we got there, all the spots near the new shelter were full so we went down the hill towards the spring where there was a clearing and a great spot for us to set up. Hanna set up the tent and then started making her dinner while we worked on the hammocks. A group of teenage backpacking boy scouts came in and set up in the same area right at sunset which was a bit of a bummer considering it was a nice quiet area we were in. By the time we’d eaten and gotten everything cleaned up, it was already 10:30 so we went to bed. I didn’t sleep amazingly the first night but I slept so much better than I did on the ground when backpacking the weekend before.

I woke up around 6:30 on Saturday morning but Brady wasn’t in the mood to get up so I just creeped on the boy scout conversations from my hammock until 7:30 when I made the family “cooo-eeee” call to my sister. I didn’t think she’d heard me but a few minutes later there she was going, “did you cooo-ee me?” lol. We filtered water from the spring which was right next to us and we finally started to tear down after we’d finished our oatmeal and hot chocolate breakfast. We didn’t leave camp until almost 10:30 and by that point everyone else had already left.

 

 

Leaving rocky run was straight uphill. I think we spent the first 30-45 minutes of the hike just going straight up. The first half of the 750 ft elevation increase felt like walking up a ladder so we had to stop a couple times for water to replace all the water I was sweating out. Yuck. Eventually the trail leveled out and we were mostly hiking along the ridgeline. We reached White Rock about 2 miles into the hike and had a quick snack by the view before trekking on. We passed a number of people who must have been either thru-hiking or backpacking a longer section because there was often a smelly cloud that traveled with them

 

 

 

The last section of trail heading into Gathland State Park was a fairly steep decline and was killer on my knees. Just before we reached the clearing, a loud explosion went off that made me almost jump full off the trail and give me a heart attack. If my knees weren’t shaking before, they were now. It turns out that it was a cannon in the state park near the pavilion where we stopped to have lunch. This was the halfway point of our hike for the day and we knew that most people headed south were stopping at the same shelter area that night. We didn’t want the leftover camping spots that night so to beat out the 2 groups stopped for lunch, we didn’t linger after we ate.

Over the next couple hours we shared stories about family hikes we’d done in the past, stories of silly things we did as kids, and just enjoyed hiking together. A lot of the trail at this point was following along next to a large rocky wall that probably would have been fun to explore if we were on just a day hike. 

 

We reached the Ed Garvey shelter a little after 3 pm for a 9.2 mile hiking time of 4 hours and 45 minutes including breaks. We did some exploring to find the right spot for the night and settled on an area right next the shelter on the north side. It was nice having a large log to act as our chairs and one of the first things I did was take off my shoes! I’d had a blister forming on my left pinky toe for the last hour or two so it was great to have naked feet. All I wanted to do at this point was lay down in the hammock.

We didn’t have much of an issue with bugs the first night but there was an overabundance of them at this shelter. I was getting eaten alive so we also strung up my bug net. 

To get to the spring at this shelter, you basically had to hike down the side of the mountain almost half a mile on a steep trail. We took all our water bottles and all the filter bags and came back with everything full so we wouldn’t have to go down again before leaving the next morning. I sat and filtered almost 6 liters of water next to the spring before we hiked back up and it ended up being an hour long excursion by the time we got back to camp.

 

 

Dinner was a bowlful of steaming hot Spanish rice and then it was time to hang the bear bag. Hanna wanted to watch the sunset from Weverton Cliffs but I had to make a judgment call… As much as I love chasing sunsets, I knew it was at least 4 miles round trip and I really didn’t want to irritate the growing blister on my toe so I had to say no. I mean I’d already taken 32,000 steps! Here are a couple of the photos she took though. <3 <3 <3

 

 

Sunday was going to be a hotter day than Saturday with temperatures well into the 90s so instead of taking the time to cook breakfast, we just packed up quick and ate from our snack reserves knowing we’d probably snack again once we reached Weverton Cliffs. Once we reached the cliffs, I think we spent at least an hour just relaxing and soaking in the views. I think we lingered a little extra knowing we had a steep hike down to the C&O canal below.

 

 

When you reach the canal, it’s almost 4 miles to Harpers Ferry on a flat gravel path that runs between the railroad and the Potomac River. We walked down to the water at one point which was a beautiful temperature, but we were all tired and ready to be off our feet so it was hard to think about enjoying the water though it was extremely tempting. We saw a lot of people out tubing on the river which looks like so much fun and is now on my bucket list for this summer.

All along I was thinking that the flat section would be the easiest and most relieving to hike but boy was I wrong. It’s long and flat so since you’re no longer focused on footing, it becomes dull and even harder on your feet. It was after 1 pm by the time we were crossing the bridge into Harpers Ferry and our focus was getting some ice cream to cool down!

 

 

We grabbed some Turkey Hill ice cream – I got black raspberry and cotton candy – and then walked up to the shuttle that takes you up to the visitor center so you don’t have to walk an extra 2 miles after having already hiked 6 and a half. Most of Harpers Ferry and the surrounding area is a national park and it would be so much fun to spend a day exploring and hiking… just not on tired feet. 

We picked up Brady’s car and while we were driving back to mine, we were looking up at the mountains and realizing… wow, we just hiked all of this! It was a pretty crazy feeling. We picked up my car and on the way back to I-70 I recognized South Mountain Creamery from the weekend before and decided we had to stop for some homemade goodness! Some grasshopper mint and lemon meringue hit the spot.

In the end, we hiked at least 17.5 miles (Hanna an extra 4.5) and came back itchy from mosquito bites, exhausted, and happy from a great weekend in the woods. 

 

 

What did you do this weekend?

Backpacking, Hiking

Our First Backpacking Trip on the Appalachian Trail!

We finally did it! The first backpacking trip for this duo is in the books and now we’re hooked. We hiked about 8 and a bit miles on the Appalachian Trail and got to enjoy the vista views from Annapolis Rock and Black Rock. If the views are this beautiful here on our east coast mini-mountains then I can only imagine how breathtaking the views are out west. We enjoyed this trip so much that we’re already planning to go out again this weekend. 

I’m behind on posting our Disney trip and I want to get back to that because I want to have it journaled, even if it’s only for myself! My website has been having issues the last week and I’m hoping I’ve finally got it all figured out but it did throw me back a little. So for now, I need to get back to posting my current goings on before I’ve missed all the exciting happenings of my life

Our trek was a mini getaway since it was gear testing and was also a tad last minute. That’s not to say we weren’t prepared because we began collecting gear back in early April but a trip just didn’t work out until now when we were like, hey we’ve got nothing else going on, let’s go backpacking!  Luckily I had all the food and stuff we needed without having to shop for anything so I spent the day on Friday getting everything ready while Brady was at work and we left the apartment around 4:45 pm once he got home. 

We got stuck in traffic because of leaving so late and we didn’t arrive at the trailhead until 6 pm with a tad less than 2.5 hours before sunset. We were going to try and make it to the Pogo Memorial backpacking camp but we knew it would be mostly dark when we got there. Our backup was camping near Annapolis Rocks but I’d read online that camping there was allowed only in “designated areas”.

What did that mean?

Where were these areas?

How was I supposed to know where they were?

How many people could stay there?

I don’t like not having answers. Once we were on the offshoot trail towards Annapolis Rocks, there was finally a sign to answer my questions.  Continue Reading

Biking, Exercise, Life, Week in Pictures, Weight loss

Crepes at Cafe Mezcla, bike rides, and hammocking

It’s been a beautiful week around here as all the flowering trees are fully in bloom and the landscape is greening up. Last week was Brady’s birthday and we were able to do a lot of outdoor adventuring to celebrate. I had been planning a weekend backpacking trip to Shenandoah National Park for the weekend but we didn’t end up going because the weather forecasts were looking potentially stormy and I was also dealing with a strained muscle in the hip flexor area. Sad. We’re still hoping to go this summer and we may try doing a shorter and close to home backpacking trip this weekend.

Since Brady worked late on his actual birthday, we went out on Wednesday evening to Brookeside Gardens to see the tulips before meeting up with his family at Cheesecake Factory for dinner.

Brookeside Gardens tulips in spring Continue Reading

Back Pain, Exercise, Goals, Motivation Monday, Weight loss, Women

April Goals 2017

March has come and gone and another birthday month is in the books. It’s kind of crazy how fast this year has been flying by because I feel like I only just wrote my goals for the whole year and we’re already 1/4 through it! It’s time to move on and share my April goals, but first, a quick March health and fitness recap:

  • Eat vegetable centered meals for lunches and dinners
  • Start weight training
  • Strengthening my back and core
  • Posture awareness
  • Keep track of my steps and water intake for this month: I’d really like to try and be getting my 10,000 daily steps in at least 5 days a week. I’m obviously in favor of 7, but if I can get 5/7 each week this month, I’m going to be pretty happy.
  • Run

April Goals

I’d say that for most of my goals, they were moderately accomplished and I’m improving in each category. Considering that I was sick for most of the month of March, I’m really happy with what got done.  

I’ve only started running in the last week because I felt like I really needed to just be walking. Even now, I’m taking up running slowly because of some issues with my knees. You can see a general workout recap below.

March Workout Recap - April Goals

The biggest accomplishment for the month was getting in my daily 10,000 steps! I really had to work for this one because if I wasn’t being proactive or dedicated to the goal, I would have come way under on most days. The crazy thing is, I’ve started to notice changes in my body due to the step taking and I wasn’t expecting much of it to happen at all. Over the last month I’ve realized that –

  • I’m getting more workouts and walks in. I’m not spending days just sitting around and I’m making less excuses
  • My back still has the same triggers but overall I’m in a better place
  • I don’t think I’ve really lost much weight, but I feel that my body is toning and looking a little slimmer.

Sure, some of this could be because I’ve also been working out as well, but I will definitely attribute most of my success this month to taking my 10,000 steps. It’s like having this goal as a central goal is keeping everything else in line.

I didn’t start until March 2nd so for the purpose of making better calculations, March is going to be 30 days long 😉

  • 22/30 days with 10,000+ steps
  • 296,129 steps total
  • Average of 9,871 steps per day
  • Most steps in a day: 16,187 steps

March Steps and April Goals

Part of the step counting motivation has been to prepare for our Disney World trip next month. We’re going to be in the parks for 5 days and if you’ve ever been, you know that there’s usually a ton of walking. The last 2 times I’ve gone, I’ve ended up in a wheelchair for part/most of the trip. I’d really like to be able to handle all the walking and not have too much pain so I’m trying to prep myself to be ready.

Here are my April Goals:

  • Again I’m going with trying to get in at least 10,000 steps in for every day in April. I didn’t get a full 7-day streak in last month so I’m attempting to get a really long one this month – maybe even 30 days! 😉
  • Running 3 times a week.
  • Getting in a proper stretch after each run and workout — I really need to start doing this because I keep forgetting and I’m paying for it. I need to do more yoga.
  • Strength training. I have horrible muscular endurance and I’d like to do at least 3 20+ minutes sessions a week with some random throughout the day exercises thrown in to help build up strength
  • Mindful eating. I’ve been realizing more and more how much of my life is focused on food. I love to eat good food and sometimes I just love to eat which leads to overeating. I’d really like to focus on eating slower, enjoying my food, and not stuffing myself.

 

Do you count steps?

In terms of overall health, is there any one thing you can point to that keeps you on track to accomplish your goals?

What are your April Goals?

 

linking with Amanda for this post

Exercise, Goals, Motivation Monday, Week in Pictures, Weight loss, Women

Motivation Monday #4

I can’t believe it’s Monday again… especially since last week was a week where all the days blended together and it was hard to keep track of which day was which. I spent the whole week subbing in a first grade classroom where all the kids were sick. I had kids cough right in my face while I was working with them and it wasn’t long before I felt myself fighting against the bug. It finally caught up to me on Friday and by the evening I really wasn’t feeling well. Kind of rough because we were spending the weekend up in Lancaster, PA. It started with my throat and I was extremely fatigued and dizzy whenever I was sitting or standing on Saturday. Sunday had some residual throat discomfort and minor nose stuffiness but it’s been a pretty light cold so far in comparison to what I’m usually hit with. I’m really hoping that this is the extent of it all.

If you need some ideas on how to fight symptoms of a cold, here’s an article with some suggestions – many of which I use whenever I’m feeling yuck.

Because last week was a rough week for my health, I struggled to have any energy to put into working out, but I pushed through a couple anyways including really focusing on getting steps in.

  • Monday – 15 minute bodyweight exercises, 10K steps
  • Tuesday – 5.4 mi bike, 35 minutes of Zumba, 12.5K steps
  • Wednesday – 10K steps
  • Thursday – 3 mi bike, 2.4 mi run/walk, 11.7K steps
  • Friday: 7.5K steps (sick)
  • Saturday: 3.3K steps (sick)
  • Sunday: 35 minutes Zumba, 10K steps

Continue Reading

Biking, Life, Thinking Out Loud, Week in Pictures

Mail troubles, current reading, and an anniversary dinner

Hello there all ye lovelies. I have some distressing news to share but don’t worry, there’s a happy ending to this tale.

The USPS Story

We ordered our Disney tickets just about a month ago and they were shipped a few days later. I was expecting to get them about 2 weeks ago but they spent an extended period of time “In Transit to Destination” with no location listed. It sat like that for over a week. I began to get worried because that’s $800 just sitting in limbo. Well today they finally arrived, no thanks to the USPS because this is how it came:

Post office USPS mess up, ripped package

Do you see the rip towards the top? It was ripped over 2/3 of the way across the top of the package which makes me feel like someone opened my mail; I mean, these bubble envelopes aren’t easy to rip. Maybe it wasn’t tampered with but I can’t be trusting. I linked them straight up to our account to make sure that no one was already trying to use them and thank goodness I didn’t have to go through the hassle of harassing the post office about stolen tickets. 

The happy ending here is that we are less than 2 months away from our Disney vacay! Continue Reading