15-Miler: Halfway There!

Posted by Genevieve.

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Meg and I started our trek early in the morning by car…leaving at 4:30 a.m. prompts 5 hour energies, which results in a chatty Genevieve (sorry, Meg. I have no control of it, but I will remind you that you supplied the stimulant).  Before hitting the trails, we met lots of new Xtreme hikers, which had various connections to CFF and also, learned strategies to defend yourself against bears including:

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oh so cute and cuddly.

Bear spray

Bear spray

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The Great Outdoors with John Candy

(1a) the use of bear spray, (2a) avoiding eye contact (I imagine this would be impossible), (3a) make yourself look BIG. Oh and get this, if the bear gets too close (as if he might be interested in eating you), (4a) you should clock ‘em in the nose…apparently this is the Achilles heel of the bear.  My inexperienced comments of what I would do if I encountered a bear on the trail: (1b) my mind would go blank and I would forget that there is something called bear mace, (2b) my eyes would be bulging out of my head…specifically, I would be rudely staring directly at the BIG bear, (3b) my defective knees would be trembling so much that I would in reality become smaller as I shrink to the ground and (4b) if the BIG bear approached me, I would cry, pee in my pants and close my eyes (in any order)…meaning there would be no jab to the BIG bear’s nose.  Needless to say, Meg and I have talked about bears a lot in the past couple of months.  In my mind, they are becoming less cute and cuddly.

Selfie/Photo Bomb: Apparently the energy bar kicked in.

Selfie/Photo Bomb: Apparently the energy bar kicked in.

I'm still smiling: this must have been before the poop-color energy bar I ate.

I’m still smiling: this must have been before the poop-color energy bar I ate.

As we increase our mileage, we are also increasing our time on the trail.  This has led to some re-occurring conversations.  One of which is trail food.  Some of the shorter hikes we have done have consisted of only energy bars…boring.  However, every time I go to the grocery store, I find a new and improved energy bar and somehow get excited about them again.  For example, I envisioned a lovely snack on the trail that tasted like Breyer’s Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream.  I made myself eat this because I didn’t want to waste it but I will warn you, it tastes like it looks.

BEWARE: this does not taste like Breyer's Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream.  It tastes exactly like it looks.

BEWARE: this does not taste like Breyer’s Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream. It tastes exactly like it looks.

As for the scenery, there was one big climb that sure did knock the wind out of you, but it was so worth it when you got to the top.

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Torrey Ridge

The second half of the hike was downhill, which is easier on the heart rate, but boy, did the ankles and knees feel shaky and weak.  But important thing is we made it to the end in one piece and with a little energy to spare.  This was a 15-miler which means we are about halfway to our goal: 31-miles in one day!!!

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Cousins!!!!

The Countdown to the CFF Xtreme Hike is 2 Months: Hiking Guide Corey Subjects Us to an Overnight Trail in One Day

Posted by Genevieve.

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Xtreme Hike - Training Hike #3 at Three Ridges near Wintergreen.

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Xtreme Hike – Training Hike #3 at Three Ridges near Wintergreen.

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!).

Three Ridges Loop

Three Ridges Loop

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.

Three Ridges5 - meg and i at overlook

Must be early into the hike because we are still all smiles!

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).

We made it to the overlook, but thought the hardest part was over...we were wrong.

We made it to the overlook, but thought the hardest part was over…we were wrong.  Obviously posing, we really don’t hike like this.

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.

All smiles with Quacker Jack that is along for the journey with a CFF Xtreme Hiker.

All smiles with Quacker Jack, who is along for the journey with a CFF Xtreme Hiker.

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.

Genevieve reaches the AT shelter pit-stop.

Genevieve reaches the AT shelter pit-stop.

Just one more creek to cross before a pit-stop at an AT shelter.

Just one more creek to cross before a pit-stop at an AT shelter.

Meg reaches the AT shelter pit-stop.

Meg reaches the AT shelter pit-stop.

Three Ridges3 - at AT shelterAt 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.

Potomac Scrambler

Posted by Meg

As Genevieve mentioned, we went all out last weekend and took over-achieving to a new level. Literally.

Katie, Meg and Genevieve, Trail Section A

Katie, Meg and Genevieve, Trail Section A

Our Sunday adventure was at Billy Goat Trail, a well-known hike on the Potomac River in Maryland and an easy drive from the Northern Virginia area. (That is, if you don’t get all turned around on the George Washington Memorial Parkway first!)

Katie ran up the side of the cliff so fast I could barely get her picture.

Katie ran up the side of the cliff so fast I could barely get her picture.

The trail consisted of three parts (A, B, C), connected by a 4-mile stretch along the C&O Canal. You can also access the Maryland Great Falls overlooks from the same parking lot. When you combine it all together, it was about a 10-mile stretch of walking, climbing, squatting, ducking, stretching, cursing, and laughing.

Genevieve and I met one of my college friends, Katie, for the day. We didn’t know what we were getting into, so we appreciated her adventurous attitude and willingness to kick our butt up the side of the rock formations along the river.

By now, you may have figured out that Billy Goat Trail entailed more than just typical hiking, at least for the ‘A’ loop. In fact, it was more like rock climbing. As soon as I entered the path, it became quite obvious to me why the trail got its name. We literally were like Billy Goats as we conquered the boulders, one by one.

The best way to illustrate our journey is through photos. Words won’t do it justice. So enjoy these photos. And get yourself out there. It’s a thrill and a hike well worth it.

Trekking along

Trekking along

One of the big climbs.

One of the big climbs.

By the way, loops ‘B’ and ‘C’ were much milder in comparison to ‘A.’ You’ll still see pretty views of the water, but the trails are a lot less rugged and fairly standard. Make sure you stop off at the Great Falls overlooks after the hike. Unreal!

View from Great Falls at the very end of our hike

View from Great Falls.