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!!!!

Practically in West Virginia

Posted by Meg

Looking west towards our sister state

Looking west towards our sister state

Sunday was another cousin hiking adventure. We met outside of Woodstock, VA, a small little town that borders West Virginia. We hiked a circuit known as Little Schloss, a solid 13.5 miles with a variety of terrains and great views of both Virginia and West Virginia. You know, West Virginia gets a bad rap. It’s actually a really beautiful state.

Our view on Little Sluice Mountain Trail at the beginning of the hike.

Our view on Little Sluice Mountain Trail at the beginning of the hike.

As with any other cousin hike, the two of us got lost. Even before we started out, we got lost finding the trail head. The coordinates listed on Hiking Upward were wrong, so we spent an hour driving along random gravel roads in the George Washington Forest until we found the brilliant purple blazes.

When you're lost in the woods, finding this sign of life is not totally comforting.

When you’re lost in the woods, finding this sign of life is not totally comforting.

Then when we were actually on the trail, we got lost. Several times. It required two maps and a GPS iPhone app to ensure we stayed on track. This proves that as much as we joke about it, we still don’t qualify as “mountain women.” We do better on team hikes when someone else is managing the map, and all we have to do is gab and move our legs in the direction of the rest group!

We’re exactly one month out to the big day. Mileage is going to keep going up these next few weekends. Our next team hike is in two weeks in Roanoke, so this coming weekend, Genevieve and I need to figure out another hike to do. Maybe this time we should acquaint ourselves with the map before we actually get on the trail!

New Adventure: Hiking Two Days in a Row

Posted by Genevieve.

In an attempt to increase our mileage, Meg and I decided to hike all weekend: one hike on Saturday and one on Sunday.  On Saturday, Meg and I met in Haymarket, VA at Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve to set out on a 7.2 mile hike.  As we left the parking lot and headed towards the starting point, we passed a tour bus and wondered how crowded these trails might be.  We attempted to follow the hiking upward route and headed straight up to the overlook.  As we approached the old mill that can be seen from the trail, I was about ready for a quick break, but Meg and I looked up and saw the tour bus on a break as the guide informed them about the mill.  So unfortunately we have no picture of the mill because we felt like it might be a good time to scurry passed them.

Enjoying the overlook before the tour bus group reaches the top.

Enjoying the overlook before the tour bus group reaches the top.

We continued up and were mostly silent as we were dripping and panting, but we were moving!  My thoughts mainly consisted of: “why am I hiking in the hottest month of the year – I am not very smart”.  Anyway, we made it to the top where we took a short break, but shorter than we might have wanted because soon the tour bus group approached the top.  As most of you probably know, I tend to voice my opinion about things (things = anything) and on top of that, I am not always quiet about them.  So turning to Meg, I think I said something like “Well, that’s the end of our peaceful break overlooking the mountains” (add big roll of the eyes).  And at that point, I met another person who apparently likes to voice his opinion.  After he chuckled, he looked right at us, and said something like “hope you weren’t really trying to enjoy the overlook”…and then 25-35 people trampled passed us.

We left the overlook and attempted to follow the selected route.  I say attempted because the next few trails seemed to be the road less traveled.  After passing through countless cobwebs, the trail would randomly end.  So we would turn around and try another trail and once again the trail would just end.  At this point, the goal was to get in a certain amount of miles and it really didn’t matter to us what trail it was on, so we just starting taking turns and seeing where it would lead us (this probably isn’t suggested, but for the most part all of these trails led to the parking lot, so we didn’t worry about getting lost).  Moral of the story: (1) Meg and I felt good about our hike, (2) we both need to work on our reactions to spider webs (wish I had a video to share with you; it was quite entertaining to say the least), (3) hiking poles have many uses, one of which is destroying spider webs prior to walking through them (we look kind-of funny swinging the poles out in front of us, but not as funny as walking through webs) and (4) we feel like we have checked this hike off the list and will probably not come back.