Wet Trails and Good Friends – Why Do I Hike?
A lot of people want to know where, when and why I hike. I grew up in Fredericksburg Virginia where trails are prevalent and easily accessible. Hiking most weekends with my family on battlefields and smaller Shenandoah Trails I grew fond of the woods and what they had to offer: tranquility, challenge and isolation. I never grow tired of hiking up to the top of a mountain, bottom of a muddy valley or even following a flat path that leads to no view. That being said, this past Easter Sunday Vincent Knaus and I planned days in advance to hike Mary’s Rock for a beautiful sunset view and quiet trail system. Little did we know that the unpredictability of mountain weather would come and rain on our parade, literally. As we pulled into Thorton Gap, we saw a full parking lot, fog and children running wild. This is not how I imagined my Sunday Hike. Vincent and I got out of the car and geared up, me with my full pack including a tent, water, food and extra dry clothes. I wore my Smartwool leggings, Merrell capra shoes, a synthetic T-shirt and sweatshirt, and my Mountain Hardwear plasmic rain Jacket. Vincent wore a bright purple Swedish golfing get-up that worked for him as his rain gear. He looked like a lumberjack and plum mixed up with the wrong crowd and came to hike with me. I chuckled and wondered what I got myself into as he pulled his camera gear behind his back. We headed southbound on the Appalachian Trail talking about his profession, photography and upcoming events I had planned for hiking. We were in great spirits despite the weather. The fog was thick in the trees surrounding us and the trail was wet and rocks were slippery from an earlier rain. Children ran past us downward, towards the parking lot and wet-mopped-headed parents followed behind, tired and despondent. It took an hour for our 1.8 mile upward bound trek. I was grateful to have a friend who did not mind spending the holiday with me, even if hiking wasn’t his forte. When we reached the rocky top four men were laying down. You would have thought they ran the whole way up. One leaned up and reached in his backpack for a WaWa sandwich and I immediately realized how badly I wanted tacos for dinner. I hopped onto the first available rock and stared into the fog. I knew that even in an hour, the sun would not shine through. The men did not stay long but Vincent and I stayed on top of the rock for over an hour and a half talking, laughing and shivering. When we headed down, I could feel rain drops start to fall through the green tunnel of trees. The fog grew thick and my headlamp was not providing me adequate light but rather the fuzz of every raindrop falling in front of me. Luckily, a spare flashlight was to be had and I carried it the rest of the way down the slippery trail. [xp_academy_unique_fact]Mary’s Rock is great day hike for any day, all skill level and all weather hiking. The trail sits off Thorton Gap on Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park.[/xp_academy_unique_fact] I did not expect rain and children on my hike but I had a beautiful time. So you ask, when do I go hiking? Every day that I get a chance, no matter the weather. Where do I go hiking? Everywhere. And why? I hike because my body breathes the wilderness; for my feet to step in dirty puddles, on dry and wet rock, through snow and meadows. I hike because even with poison ivy or sunburn I take pleasure in pulling off a hard day on the trail; because I get to enjoy a day with a friend on top of a rock. I hike, simply, because I love to.