Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Quick Hike at Hashawha

I'm really lucky to live in an area that offers so many hiking options within an hour;s drive time.  Locally, we have a place called the Hashawha Environmental Center.  It has a Nature Center and several different trails for hiking, biking and horse back riding.  Most of the trails are relatively easy.  I've taken my 3 year old grandson out on them and he managed fine in his sneakers.  There are some loops that offer a little more strenuous hiking (though nothing like the AT or the trails at Catoctin Mountain).  On January 21st, my mom, husband and myself headed to Hashawha to get some hiking in.  Usually I take along a weighted pack, but this time I opted to leave the pack at home.  Without a pack, my injury doesn't really bother me too much, so it was great to be out and just enjoying the woods.
We took one of the extra loops that does have some inclines on it and offers some gorgeous views.  I learned I am very out of shape from sitting around this winter because even without carrying a loaded pack, I was tired and out of breath often.  A large section of the trail travels through some pine groves.  I think pine groves are my favorite place to be, or at least one of the top places (a secluded beach is up there too, it's a toss up between the two).  Pine groves are just so silent and have a certain reverence about them.  Like they're the cathedral of the forest.  I would be content to sit under the pines for hours. However, sitting under pine trees doesn't build muscle or help anyone get back into shape.  So we hiked on.  We managed to hike 3.10 miles.  Looking forward to some more training hikes and the upcoming back packing season.

Monday, February 27, 2017

First Day Hike

Me: I think we go this way Mom: How do you know? 
For the past few years, my mom and I have made sure to go out for a hike on New Year's Day.  There's a New Year's superstition that says whatever you're doing on New Year's Day, you will do the whole year through.  I want to hike the year through, so that's what we do.  We opted for a hike on the Appalachian Trail heading south from Pine Grove Furnace.
The trail on this stretch isn't too bad.  The start has a gentle incline that works your muscles pretty good without causing too much pain.  I am of course basing that on my own personal injury and issues.  Inclines kill me, or rather, they have me begging to be put out of my misery, especially when I have some weight in my pack.  But this section of the AT wasn't too bad and gave me a work out without needing too many breaks.

Right near Tom's Run, we came across a blue blazed trail called Sunset Rocks.  We decided to take a detour and check out the trail.  It was nearly sunset, and we thought perhaps we might manage to see a spectacular one.  As we headed up the trail, we passed a group of young men, perhaps in their early 20's, coming back down the trail.  They warned us to be careful because the trail gets steep.  We thanked them and we all went on our way.  I mentioned to my mom that my idea of steep and their idea of steep probably aren't the same since they had on skateboarding shoes.  We just figured they saw two women and thought we might be delicate.  Then we came to the steep part.
The photo doesn't do the incline justice.
Steep doesn't even do it justice.  It's around 1,000 feet of elevation gain in about a quarter of a mile.  Parts of the trail require the use of your hands.  I had to stop a lot on the way up, and I considered turning back more than once.  But I was determined to get up the hill.  Especially when I spied two guys below me on the trail (not carrying any packs or extra weight I might add).  They were also stopping often along the way, and not because we were in their way.  We stopped and moved to the side to let them pass, but they were resting (Ha!).  So we continued up and eventually made it to the top of the ridge.  The view was gorgeous, but I was too tired to take a photo, plus there were a lot of trees in the way.  After making taking some time to catch our breath, we started making our way back down.  I was concerned about the descent because the trail still had some snow and ice on it, but we managed to get down quickly without too many problems.  My "Badass" was acting up a little, and my knees were screaming.  By the end I was exhausted, but very pleased with myself.  Prior to getting my injury treated, I would not have been able to make that hike up that incline.  There's no way.  It was worse than anything we had encountered on the Appalachian Trail so far, and the inclines I have done previously sent me off the trail early.  It was a complete victory for me: I made it up a huge elevation gain without too much pain, and at the end when I stopped, so did the pain.  On our overnight trip, the pain never let up and only intensified which is why I had to end my hike.  If the pain lets up when I stop and allows me to sleep at night and rest, I think I can manage.
I wouldn't mind doing this blue blazed trail again.  The trail actually takes you through the former WWII POW camp in Michaux.  I knew the POW camp was there, but didn't realize this was the trail that went by it.  I checked out info on the camp for possible inclusion in my book about paranormal happenings on the AT, but this POW camp wasn't a bad one.  The prisoners were treated well, and they were often plied with liquor to get them to reveal enemy secrets.
All in all, it was a great hike and one I'd recommend checking out.