Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Blissful Hiking Adventure in Review

As 2015 closes and a new year of hiking adventures begins, I like to take the time to review the past year of hiking and lessons learned.

Finish of the Massanutten Trail
Mid-winter saw me on a few days jaunt along the Appalachian Trail as I endeavor to complete yet another trek of this famed footpath over the course of many sections. The winter travel proved a bit dicey at times as I had regretfully left my traction devices at home. A good lesson learned – be prepared for winter conditions with the right gear. See my blog on Lessons Learned Winter Backpacking.  On my return home I also finished the Massanutten Trail in Virginia.

April saw me heading back to my ridgerunning job, first in Maryland where I had the opportunity to set up the caretaker site at Annapolis Rocks (my first real job at rigging tarps) as well as help the trail and hikers. In early May I celebrated with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy its first Flip Flop Hiker send-off as a panel guest and helping hikers reduce weight in several shake-downs.

The remainder of the summer I spent as a ridgerunner in Shenandoah National Park. While I’ve had many encounters with bears over my work the last three years, this past summer saw my first close up encounter as a bear decided to take a snack break on my unoccupied tent at Pass Mt Hut. Thankfully I had no gear in it but the tent needed replacing.

The fall saw my thru hike of West Virginia’s long trail – the Allegheny Trail, which I hiked from mid Sept and completed in early October (have any other women done a thru of this trail? I don’t really know). There were some casualties and tough times, with my leg suffering a major injury from a branch (the scar remains) and then afterwards when I developed an SI joint separation from the tough terrain (requiring a several week hiatus from hiking). But I learned much on the journey on how to cope with difficulties (like poor blazing, unmaintained trails, long road walks, solitary wandering) and also how much maintainers do to help the trails when you hike in areas that are unmaintained (like a quarter mile of thick thorns).

The finish at the AT / Allegheny Junction

I hope 2016 is a great year of adventures in hiking. And don’t forget our upcoming one day backpacker’s workshop in March – for new as well as old – where I bring all my many years of hiking to one dull day of learning and activities. Registration is now open!

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