Thursday, April 16, 2009

Spring Break Part 5 - Cascades and Mountain Lake Wilderness

So did we get out and going early?

Are you kidding me?

Instead of lashing the heavy packs to our backs right away, we thought we would do a warm up hike...about halfway through the Cascades trail in Pembroke, VA. There was still a chill in the air as the sun was just peeking it's head into the gorge there. The Cascades Trail is a nice easy trail that is just beautiful. We thought about doing the whole thing (about 4 miles) but decided to just do 2 miles and get over to the Mountain Lake Wilderness.


Mountain Lake Wilderness

It took us about 30 minutes to get to the trail head for the overnight hike in Mountain Lake Wilderness. We tried to make sure we didn't have anything that we didn't need, but our packs were still quite heavy. Mine is HUGE, 109 Liters. Chris's is about 50 Liters. Why is mine so big? I bought it on sale at REI about 2 years ago. I knew I wanted a nice pack, and a large volume pack. Until recently (more on this shortly) I didn't know that it was probably too big. Now I know. However it was fine for the trip.

You can see both of us in the pictures above.

One thing before we get going...We passed Mountain Lake Resort on the way to the trail head. Mountain Lake Resort is where Dirty Dancing was filmed. As we were going by we wondered where the lake went to. It's gone. I guess the lake sprung a leak and now there is just a small portion of it left. Should be called Mountain Meadow Resort now because that is what it looks like.

So back to the trail...

Once we were completely laden, we locked the truck and set off down the trail. We saw a splendid little wood pecker, but not much else. We took pictures at the War Spur overlook. The view is interesting because you will not see a power line, a home, a road, or any other sign of human habitation.

The trail heads down to the War Spur Creek from there and then up to the AT. We stopped for a bit at the AT intersection and then headed east/north on the AT from there. We saw a lizard, some twisted trees, a lot of moss, and some cool fungal patterns on some rocks. We were going downhill the whole time and it was really killing our knees. We were very happy when we reached our destination, the War Spur Hut.

We set down our packs, took off our hiking shoes, and rubbed our feet. Chris started reading through the log book in the hut. I started getting stuff out and figuring out where we would put the tent. There was a fire ring there, so we could have a fire if we wanted. It was around 4pm.

Just after we got the tent up and were really starting to relax, another hiker came up. Mark looked to be in his early 50's or so and he is a boy scout leader. He is doing sections of the AT and hopes to complete all of VA this year. That is no easy feat as VA has the longest stretch of the AT.

We cooked some chicken and pasta that came in a pouch from Wal-mart. It was ok. We drank the rest of our water too. We went down to War Spur Creek to wash our mess kit and refill our water. Soon after we were joined by three more hikers. These three didn't come in all at once. Padre was first, Blue was second, and Evergreen was third. Those are their trail names and it is all they gave us. Chris and I started brainstorming some names of our own. We came up with Ford Prefect and Trillian, Crazy Computer Dad (CCD), Hiker Mom, etc. We're still working on it.

Padre was a Religion/Philosophy major in college. Blue had red hair and wore blue. Evergreen died her hair partially green and wore green. I'm going to call them kids, even though they were in their early to mid twenties. So, these kids were amazing to talk to. They were through hikers on the AT and had started in Georgia in early March. They had a lot of stories about the trail thus far, and even more interesting stories about why they were doing it. It was inspiring really. :-) Now I'm thinking I will hike the AT through VA....or maybe WV first. I think the AT only goes through 13 miles of WV. I could do that in a day. :-) Then I could say, "I hiked the AT ALL the way through WV!"

Chris taught me how to play Rummy....and then she even let me win!

Mark got a fire going, and Blue kept it up. We expected the temperatures to drop...but didn't expect it get down to 34 degrees, but it did.

The stars were awesome to look at, and my gaze was constantly drawn upwards. I even spotted a few satellites.

We told stories into the night. I was reluctant to go to sleep because I was worried about keeping warm at this point. We did eventually retire.

We bought some light sleeping bags just before we left on the trip. They were rated for 30 degrees. Mine wasn't quite big enough. Chris had to really work to zip me up. Fortunately I had a few layers on and was fairly comfortable temperature-wise through the night.

I was really worried about Chris though. I would occassionally ask her how she was or put my arm over her to make sure she was ok. She kept responding with "I'm alive!" "I'm not frozen yet!" She said she wasn't getting any sleep...but less than three seconds after each check she was fast asleep again. Overall the night wasn't too bad and we didn't end up in the news for hypothermia. :-)


No comments:

Post a Comment

I will not accept advertising in the body of comments. If you leave links to spam, goods, or services it will be deleted. If you embed HTML it will be deleted. For any number of other reasons I may delete the comment. I do this for the safety and well being of the readers of the blog.