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The Adventure – June 18, 2017

The backpacking trip with eldest son and family was to commence on Friday, but a necessary trip to town and persistent rain causes us to postpone and redo our itinerary to leave on Saturday morning with only one night in the woods.  The trip plan had us hiking 8 to 10 miles each day, returning late this afternoon.

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All packed up and at the trailhead, preparing to hike up from the their town to the Skyline Drive, across and down to a shelter to prepare lunch, rest, and then move on.

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Entering the park.

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It was very humid in the morning, hiking into the clouds,  All day, along the trail, we spotted these tiny red efts, the immature stage of the Eastern Spotted Newts.  A few toads, a number of large deer, verbal warning of a bear ahead though we didn’t see it.

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A pensive moment by daughter in law at a trail side rest break, much needed especially by son who carried a car camping tent for his family, a car camping sleeping bag, the main cookware and eating utensils for his family, and all of the food for us except for an emergency ration and snacks each that we carried.  His pack was entirely too heavy for him to carry and before we try this again, he is going to get them a lighter tent and bags.  My pack is an ultralight and with my solo backpacking tent and backpacking bag, even with second alcohol stove, fuel, and a smaller cookpot, and water my bag was reasonable.  Daughter in law had her sleeping pad, water, sleeping bag, some emergency gear and clothes for son and her. Grandson without an appropriate backpack, used a school pack with a hip belt with an ultralight summer weight sleeping bag I brought him, his sleeping pad, and a change of clothes with his water and snacks.

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The trail was really backcountry and not well maintained, so there was a lot of poison ivy and some tall brush. Because it was backcountry, and the trail followed a contour line, there were few places to set up camp and the one we sought had several tents of young men already set up,  we stopped down from them to prepare and eat our dinner so we wouldn’t cook in our campsite.  We moved on to another potential site to find it overgrown with nettles and poison ivy.  At that point, we had hiked about 12 miles, were all worn out from the climb up to the ridge, then down to the contour to hike, then back up to the ridge. The lack of a place to camp, the quickly falling night put us in a dilemma that resulted in son hitchhiking off the Skyline Drive, grabbing a cab in town to get home to get a car and return to the Drive to pick us up.

A very long day, a good hike, a failed backpacking experience though we carried the packs, we arrived back to hot showers, tick checks, and real beds last night.  Today everyone is tired and sore, but my knees survived, other than sore muscles and a bruised bum from falling off the wet, slick outhouse ramp where we stopped for lunch, I feel good about being able to still carry the pack and hike that distance in a day.

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