Last weekend’s adventure was another in the category “I’m trying to love winter”. I led a backpacking overnight for Trail Dames of Maryland from Crampton Gap to the Ed Garvey Shelter, then out the next day ending at Weverton. A very short, doable winter backpack, 4 miles in and about 3 miles out!
Four other crazy ladies joined me on this shiverfest. We met at Weverton on Saturday afternoon, shuttled down to Crampton Gap, snapped a shot at the AT sign and off we went!
While it had been slightly chilly when we stepped off, as usual, we were ready to shed a layer within about 25 minutes. At just after an hour of hiking one dame asked THE QUESTION”, you know the one…Are we almost there?” Hahaaaa! Yes, we were almost there, I assured her…maybe 15 – 20 more minutes…I think all the ladies were pleased with that answer. 😀
It was only 3:00 pm, but the sun had started to sink taking with it the warmth of the light.
True to my word, we stumbled upon the shelter soon after. Three big guys greeted us. I had been hoping for the second floor of the shelter as it is more protected from the wind. No such luck, two of the big guys had already moved in. Bummer! Oh well, they were building a fire, so I quickly forgave them!
Two of our group tented, I stayed in the shelter with two others. I have had to put up my tent with freezing fingers before and didn’t need that delightful experience in the morning.
Big guy #1, Bob, and his buddy, Big guy #2, Aaron, were trying to think of a trail name for their friend, Big guy #3. They asked what we thought. I looked over at them sitting around the fire. Big guy #3 was sitting with his back to me, feet comfortably snuggled in bright orange down booties… “yeah, all I am I thinking right now is ‘BootyMan’!” BootyMan it was! Bwahahahaa!! He took it well telling all of us we were going to be wanting his booties at about two in the morning!
Laughing, we spread out our stuff, made dinner, then joined the big guys at the fire. The comradery of the trail is one of my favorite things about backpacking. You meet up with other backpackers and it’s like you’ve been friends forever. These guys were a lot of fun and they definitely made our shiverfest great. 🙂 🙂
The weather cooperated as well. Cold, yes, but not dreary. We huddled about the roaring fire watching daylight fade and the lights of houses in the valley twinkle up at us. The sky sparkled with a million stars and we sat back, heads tilted to the heavens, taking in Orion and other lesser known constellations. Good food, great conversation, we stayed up until about 8:30 pm before crawling into our bags.
Fast forward several hours…now huddled in my bag (rated 20 degrees + liner that advertised +20 more). I slept off and on, not totally uncomfortable, but every once and awhile a shiver would start at the back of my neck and run down to my toes. I had on all my layers…so even fitting into my bag was hilariously snug (but I did it…champ that I am). My feet were cold all night even with my big puffy socks…and all I thought about were those damn bright orange down booties!!!
Checking my Fitbit later that day showed that while I slept for 7 hours and 15 minutes…I was 51 minutes awake or restless!!! Maybe next time I will go ahead and take my partner’s bag that is rated negative 15 degrees even though it is heavier! It took all my will to get up and go to the privy! Brrrr!
Finally up, I decided I would sit in my bag to stay warm while writing in my journal. It was still dark, but I could see dawn trying to make its move on night. The dark blue sky was now streaked with a sliver of light blue and I wondered whether we would get the reds and pinks with sunrise.
Several paragraphs later I glanced back up, ahh, light pink was seeping in at the lower edges of the light blue and I heard a flock of geese honking in the valley. It was still too cold to go get my bag of food though. No matter, I was warming up my hiking pants and insoles within my bag…my hiking socks were somewhere down in there too. “Get warm little sockies, I need you!” I thought as I watched the sky dissolve into more of a peachy color.
As I enjoyed the warmth of my bag, a few coyotes started yipping and singing, a beautiful moment. I could now see the blue blaze on the trail to the spring. Light had again conquered the Dark. Time for hot chocolate – Hike on!