Posted by Genevieve.
After barely waking up, grabbing a quick energy bar for breakfast and meeting up with the rest of the clan at the Three Ridges parking lot (near Wintergreen), our group headed out to the 13.5 mile Three Ridges loop trail around 7 am (yawn!).
We quickly found out that we should probably have eased into the hike because the trail goes straight up for a while and it seemed like our bodies were not quite prepared as many hikers immediately felt ill. But no fear, we slowed down for a bit and were good to go. Oh and just in time to lighten the mood, we passed our first hikers of the day. One carried a hula hoop. As many of us have discussed books like A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson while hiking, we are now hoping that someone will write a book about their experience hula hooping the AT (any takers?). After a quick break at a camping site, we kept trekking upwards to reach the overlook, which was unfortunately a bit foggy.
However, a great spot to sit down a grab a snack (Genevieve eats the 2nd energy bar of the day…this started a trend that Genevieve was not so happy with…see glorious meal after hike below).
The rain started, which prompted all hikers to either cover bags and bodies with waterproofing or scurry to the woods which sheltered you a little bit.
As the old saying goes, what goes up, must come down and this became our reality for the next couple of hours. We quickly found out that it was not the best part of the trail to find wet. Not only was it a steep decline, but it was extremely rocky. I might add that these rocks weren’t nice. They were loose, wet, mossy, scary, ankle-turning rocks, but with our new purchase of hiking poles, we managed. At the bottom, we refueled (Genevieve ate a 3rd energy bar…Genevieve starts to complain and inquire what everyone else brought), refilled water and rested the muscles for a little bit.
At this point we are a little over halfway, but I think all of us will remember this particular portion of the hike the most. It was straight up for what seemed like forever. We passed multiple waterfalls, none of which I have any photos of, well because, I was tired and not thinking. This was the part of the hike that our dear hiking guide warned us about. He warned us that inevitably we would start cursing him for subjecting us to such a trail. Our dear guide was exactly right. Lots of grunting going on for the next few miles. We made it to our last pit-stop (ugh. Genevieve split the 4th energy bar with Meg) and there was a decision to be made (not that any of us could find energy to think). We could take a short-cut down the fire road or complete the hike with the last part – 1.5 miles that we started with. If you remember this 1.5 mile portion was the trail that produced some queasiness. With Meg leading the group in optimism (Go Cousin!), most of us decided to finish the hike even if our bodies were rejecting the idea.
We finished the hike a little bit before 4pm. That’s right, we hiked for nearly 9 hours. Sigh! So, we rewarded ourselves at Bold Rock Hard Cider that so appropriately was located just down the road from the trailhead. But the best reward was an actual meal! Although those energy bars are easy and light to pack, they just shouldn’t replace meals. So Meg, Todd and I headed to Devils Backbone Basecamp Brewpub, which was also appropriately located near the trail. With a selection of brews, fried pickles, jumbo soft pretzels, burgers, pastas and wings, we fared well. Nothing like a big meal after a big hike and the best part is its absolutely guilt-free!
I believe we were all felt extremely challenged by this hike, but at the end, oh so, satisfied and accomplished.