Wednesday, November 30, 2016

On the Mend

It just occurred to me that I hadn't blogged about the hike we took back on October 9th.  We were supposed to do an overnight hike from Dahlgren Campground to the Ed Garvey Shelter and down into Harper's Ferry.  As luck would have it, the weather was rainy, and we opted not to go.  It would have been my son's first overnight, and I didn't want crappy weather to sour him to backpacking.
Luckily, Sunday was a gorgeous day.  We parked in the parking area on Weverton Rd and hiked up to Weverton Cliffs.  It was all uphill and full of switchbacks.  My injury typically flares up on inclines, so I was concerned how I was going to handle it.  I made it to the cliffs with minimal rest stops.  We enjoyed the view for a bit, took a bunch of photos and chatted with the other hikers out enjoying the day.  Then we headed back down to head to Harper's Ferry. 
The hike into Harper's Ferry is an easy one once you're past the parking area.  Here the Appalachian Trail travels along part of the C&O Canal Towpath which is a level hike.  While I was getting tired, my injury was holding up pretty well.  I learned that if I take smaller strides, there was less strain on my hip muscles.
Along the way to Harper's Ferry, we were passed by two trains, and watched a Great Blue Heron fishing in the Potomac.  The only drawback in my opinion was the bicyclists.  While some are polite when sharing the trail, some are rather rude and indignant, as if hikers shouldn't be hiking along their bike path.

We finally made it to the footbridge heading into Harper's Ferry.  The sun was starting to set, and we were all getting a little tired.  We stopped for some ice cream before my cousin went to get her car to take us back to the starting point.  It was a great hike, especially for me as I was mostly pain free.  It was a sure sign that I'm on the mend.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Hikes and Haunts

This weekend, we headed out to enjoy the unseasonably warm temperatures and gorgeous weather.  Since Halloween was just around the corner, the decision was made to try to check out one of the haunted areas of the trail.  So, checking some options and factoring the amount of time we had before the sun set, we ended up choosing an area known as Dead Womans Hollow.

The Appalachian Trail crosses Dead Womans Hollow Rd as it heads south into Michaux State Forest.  The name of the road is a strange one.  Many years ago, Native Americans encountered the body of a woman who had been bitten by a poisonous snake.  Her ghost is said to haunt the area.

Because the parking was limited for a point-to-point hike, we ended up finding another trail to check  out.  Near the parking area we were planning to use was a trail called the Rocky Knob Trail.  This trail crosses the Appalachian Trail just south of Dead Woman Hollow, and it has its own sinister story.  Back in 1988, two women were enjoying some time hiking and camping on the Appalachian Trail.  The women were camping near a shelter one morning when they encountered a man who asked them for cigarettes.  The man seemed a little odd, so the two women decided to pack up and hike south to find a more secluded campsite.  As they hiked, the man appeared again asking if they were lost and this time he also had a .22 rifle slung over his shoulder.  The women eventually took an off shoot trail called Rocky Knob Trail.  They hiked until they found a good campsite beside a stream and set up camp.  Unbeknownst to them, the man had followed.  He also sometimes lived in the woods around there  and knew the area well.  He was aware that the side trail the women had taken was a loop trail, and he could easily catch up with them.  That evening, the man fired 8 shots at the women.  One woman was hit twice in her head and back.  She died from her wounds.  The other woman was shot five times in her head, neck, arm and face and survived.  She managed to hike out of the woods and back to the main road, approximately 4 miles.  The man was eventually caught after an extensive man hunt and is serving a life sentence. 
This trail seems to have a very heavy feeling.  Perhaps it just comes from knowing what transpired here, or maybe it's from the history itself.  Environments can hold on to energy, whether it's joy or pain or terror, and it seems like this place is definitely holding on to its past.  On a positive note, you can't deny the heroic efforts of the woman who survived.  We hiked out the way she would have gone to reach first the gravel state forest road and then drove the road down to the area where she received help.  It's taxing when you're perfectly healthy, let alone suffering from 5 gunshots. 
My son kept asking about spooky stories from the trail during our hike and wanted to know what was my favorite that I've come across so far.  My answer is that the scariest stories in my opinion are the ones that deal with murder like the story above.  The AT is a relatively safe place to hike.  In fact, walking around a city might be a lot more dangerous that being out in the wilds of the Appalachian Trail.  But the murders that have happened along the length of the trail seem to carry either some mystery as to who committed the crime, or the perpetrator was an odd, creepy person.  Throw in the idea that you're completely isolated in some areas, and it makes for one seriously scary tale. 

Switching gears a bit, Michaux State Forest is also one of the leading areas for Bigfoot sightings in the state.  While we didn't see any  Bigfoot creatures, we were catching a whiff of an odd odor that we described as pungent and musky.  This is a description that often occurs in Bigfoot sighting stories along the trail.  Throw in a couple of trees with scratched areas and you start worrying about bears Bigfoot.  And then there's the Hidebehind which has been talked about since Native American times.  The Hidebehind is a creature similar to a Bigfoot that tends to follow people and peek at them from behind trees.  It's not a good idea to be last in line in Hidebehind territory, and if you are last, don't ever look over your shoulder because you might just end up disappearing. 
We didn't see any Hidebehinds or Bigfoot, but we did do a little investigating along the trail.

All in all it was the perfect pre-Halloween hike and one I'd recommend and plan on doing again in the future.  And I want to stress that while ghosts and Bigfoot and Halloween are all in good fun, never did we consider the loss of life in this area a joke.  We all have nothing but the utmost respect for both women involved: one for her selfless command telling her friend to run and hide while she herself lay dying, and one for having the courage and bravery to persevere and seek help. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Escaping Stress


The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

~Wendell Berry

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

This Hurricane

Everyone is talking about Hurricane Matthew.  Not a surprise at all since it's the strongest Atlantic storm in 9 years and it's a killer.  Three people have died as a direct result of this storm and right now it's bearing down on Haiti- a place still devastated by the earthquake in 2010. 
I should have expected this to happen since there was a backpacking trip planned this weekend to finish the MD section of the Appalachian Trail.  If you remember, something similar happened last year when Hurricane Joachim was set to arrive along with a Nor'easter right when we were hiking for the first time.  That story is here.  You might also remember that I predicted trouble since my cousin and I seem to attract nothing but and you can learn about that here.  So, should this Hurricane be headed our way, we will be canceling the trip.  Sadly, we probably won't be able to reschedule before the weather changes.  Stay safe out there and pray for those in the path of this massive storm.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Pre-Hike Hike

In just a little more than a week, we'll be hitting the trail again to finish the Maryland section.  It will also be my son's first backpacking trip.  We hiked a local trail this past weekend (Game Day Sunday obvious from the photo) to work on breaking in his new hiking boots.  I'm slightly concerned about this trip with him.  There were comments like "This downhill is killing my knees!" (it was about a 6 inch elevation change- when he stepped down off a rock) and "Wow, I think we've gone about 3 miles so far, my legs are killing me!" (we hadn't even gone a half a mile).  Our first day is about 11 miles.  I'm just hoping I can bring a lot of Snickers bars because he is going to turn into a monster ever mile or so.  Luckily we've figured out his food for the most part.  He likes Ramen noodles and he likes the Mountain House Mac & Cheese.  We still have to try eggs in the form of a burrito (Mountain House eggs with cheese rolled in a tortilla), but he won't starve, and I'm comfortable that he'll have enough protein.  I'm just hoping that we can find enough to talk about to keep his mind off how much walking he's doing.  I don't think I know enough about Minecraft to get the job done.
As for me, I'm slightly worried about my hip/butt injury.  I've been seeing a chiropractor, and I'm down to just one visit every other week.  But I still have pain on hills and with added weight.  I've been doing squats daily (really, Mom, I have) to try to build up my butt muscles.  This last hike we did I was pain free, but I also wasn't carrying my pack, and it wasn't too strenuous.  But I'll be taking my Vitamin I (ibuprofen), and I'll also be trying out some Salonpas pain patches per the doctor's suggestion.  So now it just a matter of finalizing food, packing the packs and getting some decent weather.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Back to the Trail

In a little less than a month, I'll be heading back to the Appalachian Trail for an overnight to finish the Maryland section.  This will be my first trip since being treated for a screwed up pelvis, or a badass, whichever you prefer.  It's also the first time my son will go on an overnight trip.  Or a hike longer than 6 miles.  I'm hoping the running he's doing at soccer will help him with his endurance, but really, I'm most concerned about his food.
To say he is a picky eater is an understatement.   His typical menu consists of peanut butter and marshmallow fluff sandwiches, chicken nuggets, french fries, grilled cheese and ketchup.  The peanut butter and ketchup can easily be brought along on a backpacking trip, but I'm not planning on packing a stove, and I'm fairly certain McDonald's hasn't opened a hike thru window on the AT yet.  Dinner is my biggest challenge since I can pack his Fluffernutter sandwich for lunch and have Poptarts for breakfast. This weekend, we're going to be taste testing some Ramen noodles and possibly seeing about throwing some chicken in with it.  If that doesn't work, I'll see if there's a mac and cheese I can convince him to eat (I know, what kid doesn't eat mac and cheese??).  During the discussion about food, he suggested bringing hot dogs for dinner.  When I told him that wasn't an option his reply was, "Hopefully there will be some trail magic."
Keep dreaming kid.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

First Hike

Yesterday evening, I went out for my first hike since starting treatment for my injury.  Because I have a reevaluation of how things are progressing with my hip joint, I needed to get out there and see how things were working on the trail.  I opted to take along my pack with some weight in it too.  I was carrying about 14 pounds- roughly half of what I had on the trip we took. 
I started out and had very little problem with the first hill.  In the past, I'd normally have to stop at least twice going up this incline, but other than stopping to answer my husband's phone call, I was good.  The next two inclines were ok too- no stopping and only a slight ache in my hip.  But by the next hill, one that was a longer incline, I was in a little bit of pain.
While I was definitely hurting, the pain level was closer to the every day ache that I had been experiencing rather than the excruciating pain I was in on day 2 of our backpacking trip.  So this was definitely an improvement.  I have to keep reminding myself of that because I was hoping for a pain free miracle the first time out, and in reality that just isn't going to happen.  I do need to focus on the fact that I made it halfway through an almost 2 mile hike carrying 14 pounds without pain or needing to rest much.  And when the pain came, it wasn't on the same intense level it was in the past.  So there is progress being made.  I'll discuss it all today at the chiropractor and go from there.  
In the meantime, I'm hoping to get back in shape and start doing some short hikes without the pack.  Perhaps working on building up muscles that haven't been working properly in the last 2 years.
All in all, it was a positive experience, and I'm hoping to be able to plan a trip in the fall.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Packs Are Back!

Perhaps you remember What the Dog Did.  In short, she ripped apart the hip pocket on my husband's pack and tore the corner of the pocket on my pack.  Osprey has an "All Mighty Guarantee" where they claim to repair or replace a pack for any reason (other than normal wear and tear) and at any time.  True to their guarantee, Osprey had me ship the packs to them and claimed 2-3 weeks from the time they receive them we would have them back.  And 3 weeks nearly to the day, we had packs. My husband received a shiny new replacement pack.  The damage was too much to fix.  I, on the other hand, got my pack back with a repair on the corner.  I'm good with that, except I discovered a small hole in the pocket and a hole in the material attaching the hip belt to the mesh backing.  Since you can't repair things yourself, and the two holes are relatively tiny, I'm going with duct tape.  If they become a problem, I'll see about sending it back, but for now, I just want to get on the trail.

Tomorrow I'm heading out for my first official hike since being treated by the chiropractor (Butt Whacker).  I've already been back to kick boxing and haven't had much problem there, so I'm hoping the hike goes well.  I get reevaluated on Wednesday to see how to progress from there.  Hopefully, I'll be able to start planning a weekend overnight in the near future!

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Butt Whacker

Last year, I posted about a medical issue I was dealing with called Piriformis Syndrome (you can read it HERE).  Basically, the piriformis muscle is located under your gluteus maximus and if injured, it can cause irritation of the sciatic nerve that runs under it. As far as pain, my butt aches all the time, non stop, all the time.  While most days it isn't excruciatingly painful, it is bothersome, but on hikes, the pain can become intense.  Any forward uphill movement makes the issue worse.  Adding a 30 pound pack nearly did me in.
I tried physical therapy a year ago and it helped, but only for short periods of time.  Then the aching would return.  After my backpacking trip I was completely convinced that I would never be able to go on trips longer than an overnight because I would be able to go the longer distance and more importantly, I wouldn't be able to carry what I needed for an extended trip because of added weight. Piriformis Syndrome is a very dreary thing.  There isn't much hope of it going away for good.  Your options for treatment include physical therapy, cortisone shots, botox or surgery.  And surgery isn't a guarantee fix.
So, at a recent doctor's appointment, I mentioned that I thought my hips seemed to be tilted- one side was higher that the other (and the higher side was the side with the muscle problem).  I asked if this could be part of my problem and he said yes.  He recommended I go to a chiropractor to get it looked at an see what they could do.  After asking around for a good chiropractor, I finally made an appointment.  During my first consultation, the Chiropractor told me he didn't think that I had piriformis syndrome, and I nearly wept with joy.  Turns out, I was right.  My hips were badly misaligned (from the fall 2 years ago) and this was pulling on my muscle.  In fact, it was so badly misaligned that my left left appeared short than my right.  This was throwing my whole gait off for 2 years. 
After my first adjustment, I felt better.  The pain was still there, but had moved.  Muscles in my hip were starting to work the way they were supposed to and were sore because of it.  I've had 3 visits, and I improve each time I'm there.  I actually had my first pain free day in 2 years this past Friday and it was glorious. And last night I went for a 1.5 mile walk, and there was no pain in my butt or hip (just my sprained ankle). I'm not back to 100% yet, but there is improvement.  I'm looking forward to starting to get back to hiking and backpacking
(once I get my repaired packs back from Osprey).
(In case you're wondering, the term "Butt Whacker" was my play on "Back Whacker" which is what my cousin refers to her chiropractor as)

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Backpacking Trip: The Final Push

The 4th and final day of the hike turned out to be gorgeous.  My cousin and I got up and got ready to head out to meet up with my mom and husband.  My aunt decided to join us, so we made our way to Harper's Ferry.
In the meantime, my mom and husband prepared to make their way to Harper's Ferry.  Their breakfast that morning was just some oatmeal (my breakfast was waffles and eggs).  From the looks of their photos, this section of the height is gorgeous.  Both said they were pretty tired on this section.  My mom thinks a lot of their fatigue was because they didn't have a bigger breakfast and what they had didn't offer protein for their muscles.
The views from Weverton Cliffs were spectacular, but the trail down was killer.  After descending Weverton Cliffs, the trail goes under an overpass and follows the C&O Canal footpath.  My mom thought the area under the overpass was creepy, and the footpath seemed  never ending.  This was mostly because they were both tired and ready to be done.  My mom also said that they could see the church steeple in Harper's Ferry so they thought they were close, but in reality they still had miles left to hike.

My husband with my cousin and I photobombing in the background

My cousin, aunt and I were patiently waiting for their arrival.  We were watching the stairs that lead up to the footbridge over the river.  Finally I noticed a familiar form slowly pulling himself up the steps.  We made our way down the bridge to meet them.  They were so tired, they didn't even notice the shenanigans going on just past my husband's shoulder.  We all walked back across the bridge and met up with my dad and son who came to take us all home.  We weren't able to find any parking available, so we said our good byes to my aunt and cousin and headed out to find food. 
I don't think I've ever seen two people enjoy food more.  There's just something about eating a burger when you've been eating your meals out of a Ziploc bag after adding boiling water to them.  I'm hoping to get back and finish the parts of the Maryland section that I missed.  Luckily it's only a two day trip, so I won't miss any time from work plus I'm hoping my 10 year old goes as well.  He recently received his own Osprey backpack so he can start joining us for trips.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Backpacking Trip: Day 3

The next morning, my mom and husband headed out on the trail from Dahlgren.  Though designated as a backpacking campsite for backpackers, it is apparently the local camping site for young adults who want to party for free.  Luckily, my mom and husband were able to get a site and also were able to get hot showers there.  I woke up in a nice comfy bed, though I was still in some significant pain.  My cousin came to see how I was.  I was stretching and said "Oh, my bad ass is really bothering me!"  She laughed and said, "that's your trail name: Bad Ass, not because you are one but because you have one!"

Meanwhile on the trail, my mom and husband met a thru hiker headed north.  My husband really wanted to talk to some thru hikers, so this was a highlight for him.  The hiker was called "Scorched Heels" so named for some bad blisters he experienced early on in his journey.  He was hiking in a kilt, and my mom gave him her stash of Gummy Bears.

Back at base camp, my cousin and I decided that we were going to offer trail magic to the other two.  We estimated their travel time, and planned on meeting them at Gathland State Park.  So we headed out to get some Subway subs and drinks.  We opted to hike up the trail and find a spot to sit and wait for them.  Of course, the trail was uphill heading north.  And, of course, my cousin kept telling me we were "Almost There".  Finally I told her that should be her trail name, because she was always telling us we were "almost there" at every hill (and typically we weren't even close).  We threw around the idea that my mom should be "Lifesaver" because she kept feeding them to me.  This triggered a memory about when my brother was little.  He could be a real handful, and my mom got into the habit of having lifesavers on hand.

She used them to keep him quiet.  

My cousin and I continued to hike until we found a nice log to sit on.  We met several people out for day hikes and watched tons of butterflies floating around the trail.  One thing I noticed on this trip was that the Appalachian Trail seemed to be some kind of butterfly highway.  I saw tons of them flying up and down the trail.  We waited forever for my mom and husband to make it down the trail.  We asked one southbound group if they had seen them and they told us that they had passed them a while back.
Finally, we saw them headed our way.  We hiked down to Gathland State Park with them and got out their subs and drinks.  They inhaled the food.  We also had some water bottles so they could refill water without needing to filter it.  Gathland has a bathroom, so they made use of the facilities before checking the place out. 


Gathland State Park is home to the only War Correspondent's Memorial which was built by George Townsend in 1896.  Townsend was a Civil War correspondent. He wrote under the name "Gath" and made all his money writing.  Gathland State Park is one of the haunted spots along the Appalachian Trail.  My cousin and I have actually gone on paranormal investigations in the area.  Not only is Gathland said to be haunted by George Townsend, but the area was also the scene of the battle at Crampton's Gap during the Civil War.

Eventually it was time for them to head back on the trail to their next nightly stop: Ed Garvey Shelter.  My cousin and I pointed them in the right direction and said our goodbyes promising to meet them in Harper's Ferry the next afternoon.  While they headed south, my cousin and I headed into Sharpsburg, MD to get some excellent ice cream from Nutter's.  We ended up sitting on a bench in the cemetery to eat our ice cream.  This might seem like complete and utter lunacy something odd to do, but it's completely normal for her and I.

Later, my husband let us know that they had reached the shelter.  He sent me a photo of his sleeping accommodations for the night.

I returned the gesture by sending him my sleeping accommodations for the night.

My mom and husband had a nice campfire going that night and enjoyed time with some of the people they had met on the trail.  One couple named Roxanne and Joe was doing a flip flop together.  They had sold their home and headed out on the trail together.  We later learned that the wife had an injury and ended up stopping just past the MD/PA line, but as of this writing, the husband was still on the trail somewhere near New Hampshire.  They also spent some time with 2 girls we had all met at Gathland. The girls had a container of wine with them and they and my mom shared some.   My mom told them the story about my husband's potential trail name of "Maria" and as they went to bed later that night they yelled out, "Goodnight Maria!"

The Final Day coming up!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Backpacking Trip: Day 2

View from Annapolis Rocks
The second day of our trip dawned on an overcast morning.  The rain from the night was long gone, and the sky had a promise of sun.  Unfortunately, I can't say the same for my disposition.  I did not sleep during the night.  Between the privy runs in torrential downpours, the changing of wet clothes, the worry about getting my new down sleeping bag wet, the worry my tent would leak and the ever increasing pain in my butt, it's a wonder I didn't wake up mutated into a shorter version of Godzilla ready to destroy Tokyo grumpier than I was.  We ate breakfast and packed up camp and got ready to head down the trail.  I was personally trying hard not to cry and failing.  It really was not a good morning.  I didn't care about the view, all I wanted to do was get moving.  I knew that my aunt had planned to meet us at our stop for the night at Dahlgren Campground.  All morning, I struggled mentally about whether or not I should make the choice to end my hike.  The pain was pretty bad, especially on any inclines, and I knew I had some inclines coming in the next couple of days.  I kept thinking that if I ended my trip, I would be failing, and then I was fighting back the tears again, which made it difficult to breathe while carrying 30 pounds with a bad ass.  I tried to keep quiet and push on.  As we hiked south, we began meeting up with day hikers heading north to Annapolis Rocks.  Annapolis Rocks is a popular destination for the view, hiking and rock climbing.  These people carried nothing except small hydration packs or day packs and some were wearing nothing more than flip flops.  I hated each and every one of them on sight.  The happier they were, the more I plotted their demise resented them.
My cousin, myself and my husband

Finally, we made it to the Interstate 70 overpass.  This was my husband's thrill of the trip.  As a kid (and adult) he passed under that bridge on trips to visit his grandparents, and he always wanted to walk across it.  My cousin and I did our best to muster pleasant faces for the photos that we weren't thrilled about having to take.

Once we crossed over the bridge, we meandered around people's backyards before deciding to take a break and have a snack.  We met a few people out for a day hike who were headed the same direction we were.  One was a Hispanic man in a bright yellow shirt (he's important later).  After resting and eating some snacks, we got up and headed back on the trail.  Our plan was to hike the roughly 3 miles to the Washington Monument (the original one in Boonsboro, MD not the one in DC) and eat our lunch there.
It was a grueling 3 miles because 1. It was the longest 3 miles I've ever hiked and 2. There was a never ending mountain hill.  As we climbed the mountain hill, I had to stop every couple of feet to rest and stretch my butt.  It was about this time that my mom began feeding me lifesavers.  My cousin swore several times that we were "almost there" and several times she came near death when each time we were nowhere near almost there and more mountain hill lay in front of us. Then I spotted something bright yellow making its way down the hill.  It was the Hispanic man we had met earlier.  He took one look at me and said "Jew are berry close, berry close" in his accented English.  I think I said "God bless you" 4 or 5 times to him as I realized that I wasn't in the 4th level of hell  going to be hiking this mountain hill forever.  I now refer to that man as my "Little Ray of Mexican Sunshine".

We did finally make it to the top.  There we met 2 men headed north on a hike and we stopped to chat with them.  I asked how far it was to the Dahlgren campground.  One said less than a mile and his partner said, "No it isn't, remember you can't trust information from other hikers on the trail"  Turned out it was more like 2 miles.  I thought about all the horrific stories we heard about upcoming terrain from The Wannabes and Eeyore and realized the guy was right, you can't trust the information.  They assured us that the hike wasn't too bad and that we wouldn't have any trouble getting there after we ate. 
We got to the monument and sat on the bench for lunch.  The Monument was still closed for repairs.  Prior to our trip, the monument was struck by lightning and damaged.  There were 2 women in it at the time, and one was seriously hurt.  That afternoon it was a sunny, though windy, day.  There were 2 men there bird watching.  I assumed they were watching peregrine falcons, but I was too tired to bother to go ask them.
The vultures were there. Circling.
Normally I would be interested in walking around and looking at the view, but all I wanted to do was die not move.  My mom walked around and took pictures, thankfully.

After lunch and a rest, we headed out.  At this point, I had made the decision that I needed to end the hike.  My cousin had also come to this decision as she was dealing with some pain as well.  My husband is the one who really pushed that I needed to stop.  So the choice was made, my cousin and I would be heading to her house for the remainder of the trip while my mom and husband continued on.  As we made our way down the trail, we discovered that there was more to the Washington Monument State Park than we realized.  Down the hill from the monument, there are pavilions, picnic areas, a museum and bathrooms.  Had we known, we might have eaten our lunch comfortably at a picnic table. 
As we hiked on, we that we would all have dinner at the Olde South Mountain Inn which was where we were meeting my aunt.  The thought of a hot meal that didn't require me to boil water and a soft bed I didn't have to blow up gave me a little extra energy (not to mention all the extra sugar from the lifesaver candies my mom was handing me). We reached the parking lot of the restaurant and my cousin and I sat on the curb and waited while my mom and husband went to set up their camp at the Dahlgren Backpacking campsite.  When my aunt pulled in, my cousin and I were all smiles and waving.  My aunt commented that we made it past MD 77 which was further than she thought we would make it (like I said, she's hilarious).
When my mom and husband made it back, we all headed into the restaurant.  We weren't exactly dressed for the occasion, though luckily, none of us stunk too bad.  There was a wedding rehearsal dinner going on, and we were all a little self conscious about our clothes.  The staff at the Inn were very nice and treated us just like any other customer who might be in better attire.  Our meals were awesome as was the dessert.  Starting back on day 1 about an hour into the hike, we were all dreaming about food.  I guess when you're hiking through the woods with little to no signs of civilization carrying everything you need to survive on your back, food becomes an obsession.  My mom, cousin and husband started talking about Key Lime pie and continued talking about it right up until we were seated at the table in the Inn. And wouldn't you know it, the South Mountain Inn had Key Lime pie.  I had the chocolate Godiva cake and it was awesome.  This turned out to be a surprise gem in our trip.  We had a great time, ate great food and had a great waiter.  The only odd treatment we received was some hoity toity blonde woman who turned her nose up at us as we walked out (I swear we didn't stink).  For those planning hikes along the trail here, note that the menu is pricey (though so worth it).  After dinner, we said our goodbyes and my cousin and I headed to her place for showers and clean clothes.  It was up there in my top 5 showers (hard to beat the shower I had after living in a field for several days at the UFO Ranch in Washington or the one I had after a weekend of Scout Camporee and nothing but Port-a-Pottys)
Day 3 coming up!