Sunday, May 17, 2015

Appalachian Trail-Maryland Days 2 and 3

I have literally no pictures of day 2. 

The reason I have no pictures of day 2 is that we were cold, and tired, and sore, and then it started raining. Still, we met some really cool people at the shelter the night before and were ready to go our requisite 8 miles to the next shelter that day.

It started out beautifully. Lovely, easy hiking. And then we went up a huge hill that was covered in boulders top to bottom. It was really hard. The 2nd half of the trail that day was much nicer, but that's when the rain started. 

The boys did great. Really and truly great. Lilyanna did great, too, but with significantly more whining. The boys took off ahead of us at some point with the instructions to find the shelter and get set up and then head back to help with their sister. While it was just Lilyanna and I, we took A LOT of breaks. Breaks seem like a nice idea except when you're wearing a really heavy backpack. And my pack was heavier that day because I had lightened some of Benjamin's load from the day before.  

Also, while I'm sure nobody wants to hear about this, I was also dealing with some major feminine hygiene issues throughout the whole thing. Basically, I learned in great detail what NOT to do. 

Anyway, around mile 6 that day and in the rain sat down and refused to go another step. Just refused. There was weeping and wailing and howling and gnashing of teeth. I finally asked if she wanted to go home the next day. She jumped up said, "Yes, Mommy, thank you!" and practically ran the remaining miles to the shelter for that night. 


When we arrived, we found quite the crowd of friendly people already set up, but they made room for us and helped us get our dinner together quickly before it got too dark.  Lilyanna made friends with the only other girl there (she was in her late 20s, but Lilyanna was feeling desperate for some girl time.  The AT was a little too male-centric for her tastes.) She also announced to anyone who would listen, "Hi! I'm Lilyanna! We're backpacking, but I hate it! I just want to go back to the cheap motel and watch Food Network. I don't ever want to go backpacking again!" She said it all so cheerfully, though. Poor traumatized child. 

It was at this point that Benjamin was suddenly super in to the whole idea of backpacking since he'd been talking shop with the fellow backpackers at the shelter. Nothing like war stories and comeraderie to inspire a surly teenager. ;)

When we woke in the morning, we took our time with breakfast, gave food away to those who would still be continuing on for a few more days. Gave information to the ones who were heading north where we'd already traveled, and called for the shuttle to come pick us up. We filled up our water bottles at the spring and hiked an easy mile to the highway to get picked up.

The weather was glorious. And we were sore, but everyone was in good spirits.

I reminded myself that I wasn't a total failure. The dream of hiking the whole state was mine, not my children's, and we'd accomplished quite a bit. We were also better prepared for next time. Though my kids swear there won't be a next time, I'd like to go down to finish the state of MD and WV, perhaps in the fall. I'll take whomever wants to come with me. 

My 5 year old hiked 18 miles in 2 days. She rocks. (Even if there was lots of whining while she did it.)

Lilyanna crawled into her sleeping bag as soon as we arrived at the shelter on day 2. She ate both dinner and breakfast in "bed".

Waiting for the shuttle at the trail head. Everybody feeling very chill knowing that they were "supposed" to be walking 10 miles that day.
Favorite game? Wait until Nathaniel is sitting down. When he asks for food, throw it just out of reach and watch him flail a lot trying to grab it without taking off the pack or standing again. (Seriously. I wish I had video. It was hysterical!)

This is the only photographic evidence that I was even on this hike. 1 picture.

A little historical site-seeing was in order on our way home. Except every time we got out of the van, there was a chorus of "ooo, ow, oh, ow". We were a little stiff and sore.
Benjamin somehow forgot the belt for his hiking pants, so this is what I fashioned for him so he would stop mooning us while hiking up hills. ;) Bungee cords should be kept on hand for all backpacking emergencies.
We took our extremely stinky selves to Cracker Barrel for a meal that didn't need to be reconstituted first. And then we headed home, where were able to have a few relaxing days left of spring break.

All in all, I'm really glad we did it. We have some really fun memories and stories, and my kids know that they can do hard things. I'll force them into doing it again sometime soon, but I'll let them forget a little bit more first. ;)

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