Winter Shiverfest Backpack – Ed Garvey Shelter

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!


Off on our Shiverfest!

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!



Vicky & Kathryn putting up their tents. This was Kathryn’s first backpacking trip and Vicky’s second! Great job, Ladies!

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.  🙂 🙂


“BootyMan”, Aaron, Vicky, Kathy, Kathryn, & Anne enjoying the warmth of the fire.

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!

Oh Fall…slow down!

I looked at the date of my last post…a sharp intake of breath…a month ago!!!

It has been an unforgettable fall season. 🙂  Lots of hiking, lots of working, lots of going to school…not a lot of time for writing unless it is for one of those reasons!

So a quick recap of the highlights. 🙂

Shenandoah River State Park

Shenandoah River State Park

October 17: We headed down to Shenandoah National Park in early October to leaf peep.  After seeing the line at the northern entrance, we gladly diverted and visited Shenandoah River State Park instead.  Lovely park and a very good decision!  We visit Shenandoah National Park all the time and quite honestly, prefer it without the traffic. 🙂

White Rocks, north of Gathland State Park on the AT in Maryland

White Rocks, north of Gathland State Park on the AT in Maryland

October 25: Sidekick Pauli and I took an afternoon hike to White Rocks on the AT in Maryland.  I realized I had been doing way too much desk sitting as I climbed up to White Rocks!!  We had a lovely lunch at the rocks before walking back to Gathland State Park. 🙂 🙂 🙂

2015 October 31 Antietam Battlefield

Antietam Battlefield

October 31: Led the Trail Dames on a walk among the lost souls at Antietam Battlefield. Perfectly beautiful day to enjoy and be thankful for all we have been given.

Wet, wet, wet on the Rose River Trail in SNP

Wet, wet, wet on the Rose River Trail in SNP

November 7: Rose River Falls Loop in Shenandoah National Park with the Trail Dames  IN THE RAIN.  Sidekick Pauli didn’t mind the rain and neither did I.  I wasn’t leading this hike so I walked along carefree as can be!  And we finished by celebrating a fellow dame’s birthday with blackberry cobbler and ice cream! Yes!!

Star Party at Sky Meadows State Park, VA.  Just look at those set ups!

Star Party at Sky Meadows State Park, VA. Just look at those set ups!

November 14: Let’s all go to a Star Party!! Kudos to the Northern Virginia Astronomy Club (NOVAC) for sharing their super high caliber telescopes with us at Sky Meadows State Park.  I saw Jupiter, Uranus, a double star, the craters on the moon, and a lot, lot, more! So awesome. 🙂

Thomas go to after work!

Thomas Farm…my go to after work!

I have enjoyed being outside this last month and am soooooooo looking forward to my Thanksgiving break!

#OptOutside on Black Friday! Hike On!

Snowy Hike up to Weverton Cliffs, Maryland

Well, an unexpected 12 inches of snow! I was excited! Finally, a snowstorm that didn’t end in the dreaded wintry mix, a snowstorm that exceeded expectation, so off we went to play…WHEEEEEEEEEE!!!! 🙂

I headed down 340 towards Harper’s Ferry, and thought briefly about going down towards Shenandoah National Park…but then Weverton came into site as I rounded a corner.  I pulled off into the commuter lot, grabbed my pack and Sidekick Pauli…we were off!

Yay, someone had broken trail before us! Boooo…the plows had come by piling up the snow at the edge of road next to the trail.  It must have been 4 feet high! I started to climb over the the snow bank and promptly sunk into my knees, lovely way to start a hike.  😉 Sidekick Pauli didn’t seem to mind and jumped like a jack rabbit through the pile up of hard packed snow.

Winter on the  Appalachian Trail up to Weverton Cliffs

Winter on the Appalachian Trail up to Weverton Cliffs

I noticed snowshoe prints alongside the trail…brilliant! I was wearing microspikes and glad of them…but the snowshoes would be a perfect choice for this soft, fluffy stuff.  Sidekick Pauli did well with her four on the floor sticking her nose in the air sniffing her way up the snowy trail.

Steep! and great winter views!

Steep! and great winter views!

This trail has its fair share of rocks and step ups, but not today.  The blue skies and snowy trail made for a lovely walk. Steep as usual, but without the toe stubbing spots and ankle turner opportunities.   The temperatures were also delightfully mild and I actually found myself wishing I hadn’t opted for the heavy weight long underwear!

I posted a pic of the trail sign to Instagram… GroundBird Gear posted back at me stating they had broken trail the day before…in snowshoes!!! Well, now I know who made those prints I was admiring! 🙂


We stopped at the top to share a PB&J and some cheese (Sidekick Pauli’s favorite hiking snack). The views were amazing and we had the sunny overlook to ourselves for quite awhile today. Nice!

Sidekick Pauli enjoying a break at Weverton Cliffs, Maryland

Sidekick Pauli enjoying a break at Weverton Cliffs, Maryland

Weverton Cliffs with the Potomac River in the background.  I can see Spring from here!

Weverton Cliffs with the Potomac River in the background. I can see Spring from here!

Hike On-it’s almost Spring! 😀

Winter Hike to White Rocks and The Perfect Hiking Partner

This gallery contains 5 photos.

Isn’t it funny how we can just pass by amazing things and not give them the respect they deserve because we are in a hurry, or have a different focus, or just don’t see them as wonderful as our ultimate destination? Well, not this time kiddos! Overnight I was overtaken with an urge to hike […]

AT – MD Day 4 Weverton Cliffs and a Hobble into Harper’s Ferry

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10/20/13 Crampton Gap (Gathland State Park) to the ATC in Harper’s Ferry The last section of our backpack started with the “bed & breakfast” treatment at Dirigo and Python’s house in WVA!  Coffee of our choice and a leisurely wake up time! Soon we were on our way back to Crampton Gap.  The mosh pit […]

AT – MD Day 3 The Washington Monument, A Long Climb and a MoshPit of Campers

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October 19, 2013 Pine Knob Shelter to Crampton Gap Shelter…then to Dirigo & Python’s basement in WVA…but I am getting ahead of myself… From my sleeping bag it seemed like dawn was going to happen at any moment.  The forest was actually light enough to see through the trees.  V. had just returned to the […]

AT – MD Day 2 Over the Rocks, Up to the Cliffs and Down to the Shelter We Go!

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10/18/2013  Ensign Cowall Shelter to Pine Knob Shelter It rained off and on all night!  So happy I was in the shelter as I kept hearing acorns and small limbs hit the roof of the shelter.  The front that had moved in left us with a chilly, damp morning.  This was the kind of morning […]

AT – MD Day 1 Climbing the Rock Pile & Getting Caught in the Rain

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10/17/2013  PenMar to Ensign Cowall Shelter (10 miles) This was a tough 10 miles!  No surprises there…lots of rocks and then there was the climb up Quirauk Mountain to High Rock.  Boomerang, Google, V. and myself started off from PenMar at about 10:15.  We trekked north about a quarter of a mile to the Mason-Dixon […]

AT – MD Post Training Hike…Feeling good!!!

I met my hiking pal at the West View parking lot on Sugarloaf Mountain in Montgomery County, Maryland for our training hike.  I had everything in my pack except food in the bear vault.

We started downhill with full packs hoping to make this loop before the heat set in!  Temperatures were to soar to 85 degrees on this sunny October day.  The pack felt good…actually better than I anticipated.  But then again, I was going down hill, and a nicely graded downhill at that!

After dropping about 500 feet we crossed Mt. Ephraim Road and started up!  I kept waiting for the worst, but it didn’t come and we made it easily to the view from White Rocks after a rocky climb of 300 feet.

Sugarloaf Oct 2013And then came the roller coaster as we traversed another 200 feet up to one of the lesser summits on the blue trail at an elevation of 1015 feet, down to 750 feet elevation, then back up to another lesser summit at 995 feet!  After that the rolling is a little less intense.  The last hill was hot and slow as the heat had really begun to deliver a beat down.

Final verdict…great training hike!  And glad we got done before the real hot afternoon heat set in!!



AT – MD Pre-Backpack Notes

Tomorrow is a training hike.  Not even remotely prepared for this!  I have been taking care of a litter of feral kittens…from bottle feeding to socializing.  As I write I hear the patter of little kitten feet in the room above me.  They are about seven weeks old now and will be ready for adoption through the Animal Welfare League of Frederick in a few weeks…but I digress. 🙂

Back to the training hike.  I ran around tonight just gathering my back packing gear.  Where did I put the pack again?  Oh Little Caesar moved it into the storage room.  I have all my gear stored in the pack for easy access.  Carried it downstairs to organize.  Sleeping pad…check, tent…check, first aid kit…check, new pillow (in my best happy squeeky voice 😀 )…check, sleeping bag…uh…sleeping bag…WHERE IS MY SLEEPING BAG???  My stuff sack is here, but where is the bag?  Crap!  Okay…calm…maintain…Little Caesar in her gestapo cleaning mode probably put it up in the storage room…  Went back to the storage room.  God, it’s hot in here tonight…oh there it is…whew! relief…exhale!

Okay so in the pack so far is:

Sleeping Bag

Sleeping pad/pillow

tent, first aid, hygeine, compass, pocket knife, bandana (1), fuel, water filter, stove, cookware/bowl, headlamp, pack cover, rain poncho, and bear vault w/o food

Tomorrow I will add water and some clothes for weight.

Doing a 5.5 mile loop up and down a mountain.  Should be humbling! 🙂 🙂 🙂