Friday, April 15, 2016

Hiking the Appalachian Trail

This week instead of having my kids take the PSSA's (Pennsylvania's Standardized Testing), Travis and I took the kids and our dog and some educational travel days and decided to do a 50 mile hike in 4 days on the Appalachian Trail instead. 

We started in West Virginia and ended in Pennsylvania spending most of our time, 45ish miles in Maryland.  The Maryland challenge is a popular thing amongst hiking enthusiasts.  But we needed a few more miles, because why not have Wyatt earn his scout badge for a 50 mile hike while doing something so close.  So we started a little further back in West Virginia and made sure to do some of the scenic by-routes, although near the end, no one could be bothered to see any of the overlooks.  The appeal was totally gone.

We packed everything in and out, slept in shelters or tents, and rarely showered or changed clothes.  We tested the physical limits our kids thought they had, only so they could realize that they can do a whole lot more than they thought possible.  We learned that hiking with an additional 30% body weight in a backpack makes a huge difference especially on our feet (think no fewer than 5 blisters on the pads of my toes just from weight difference) and knees.

But for as miserable as they were at some points - and they were - there was a lot of laughing, joy and bonding.  There were many friendly hikers, our favorites a Swiss couple, many great stories and a multitude of life lessons learned.

Prepare yourself for pictures...
Starting in WV
Crossing over the river into Maryland
 
There were a ton of great views, both intentional overlooks and then just the beauty of nature!
They even make crossing over the top of a highway sort of breathtaking.
Around the camp fun includes tents, every stick becoming a weapon, random imaginary play, Trixie (our dog) cuddling down in leafy, sunny spots, other hiker socializing, fire making and cooking.
The best was when a "tenter" by the shelter comes rushing in with a bear and cub sighting.  I send Travis to go take a look and get a picture with my camera (I was already in bed and quite skeptical).  It turns out for good reason.  He got the picture but it was a rock outcropping between trees.
Some streams were easy crossing, when they provide these wood planks, others a little less.  But the kids did great even accounting for wonky backpack weight.
Also really amazing to see were left over walls from the Civil War.  Being this close to the Mason Dixon line and a hot spot of activity, we saw a couple of these.  History really comes alive when you imagine war on foot, with packs, building rock walls, and living in more extreme conditions than what we were facing.
Near the end we hit a park right on the Maryland/Pennsylvania line.  When we got to the parking lot, we found we had a flat tire.  Happily my husband put on a spare.  He is such a stud.  We then got in the car for a smelly 1 1/2 hour trip home, where instantly the kids and dog were out.
It was the trip of a lifetime, even if not every memory was easy or fun!

1 comment:

Nicole Winward said...

I seriously love this so much!! I would love to do something like this with my kids and I love that you just went for it and made it happen. I'm not sure we could hack it. I may have to hit you up for tips