Today marks two years that Andrew and I have been married! We celebrated this weekend with a getaway to a cute mountain cabin in Luray, Virginia. The trip was both awesome and exhausting, filled with hiking and exploring the area.
Friday morning we drove straight from Richmond to the base of our first hike–Strickler Knob–with plans to check into the cabin that evening. I’d like to give this section of the post a special title based on our (my) experience:
Pack More Water Than You Think You Need
Strickler Knob is about a 9.5-mile hike with an incredible 360 degree view at the top of the mountain. Now, 9.5 miles is a pretty long hike, and the reviews I read rated it 5 out of 6 in terms of difficulty, but for some reason I was not taking that thing seriously before we started. I only packed one 24-oz water bottle, and that turned out to be a dangerous mistake.
About ten minutes into the hike, the trail turns very steeply downhill–the kind of downhill that isn’t fun at all–so steep that after .6 mile, when the trail finally started going uphill, it felt relaxing. During that section all I could think was, “This is going to be terrible on the way back…” And it was…but more on that soon. 🙂
The entire hike was beautiful; there was a stream, rock scrambling, and these views at the top:
The return trip is where it became painful. The temperature was hotter than expected, and with no leaves on the trees yet, there was very little shade. I’d consumed all of my water, and Andrew refilled my bottle with half of his second bottle (so by being under-prepared, I endangered both of us). In addition to being dehydrated, rationing water meant that I had only eaten a few bites of my sandwich when we stopped for lunch–with a dry mouth it was tough to swallow. All around, I did not have enough fuel in my system.
For most of the return trip I felt okay. We even ran a few downhill sections! And then we reached the bottom of that d**n hill that I knew was going to be terrible from the start. Friends, I am in good shape. Cardiovascularly I can go the distance; the muscles in my legs are strong. After 8.5 miles, however, with not quite enough water or food, this ascent was not pretty. I had to stop and rest–and not just rest, but sit down–every .05 miles. That’s roughly every minute, maybe two on that terrain. I’ve certainly felt tired on hikes before, but this was the first time I’d ever thought, “I cannot make it to the top of this hill. How am I going to do this? I’m going to have to camp here.” Andrew said he was preparing himself to have to carry me. It was awful.
And then after a grueling .6 mile, we reached flat ground…and I turned around and cursed the mountainside.
With adequate fuel, it would have been a tough hike, but with only 4.5 cups of water over that distance, it was almost more than I could take. I was thankful to have Andrew there to encourage me and share his water! Anytime you go into the woods, pack more water than you think you need.
After completing the hike, we made our way to the cabin.
Isn’t it cute?? We refueled with dinner cooked on the grill, then relaxed in the hot tub 😀
Despite the dehydration, it was a great day. I’d like to tackle that hike again with better preparation…the views are worth it!
I will post about the rest of the weekend tomorrow, but for now…
Happy anniversary to the love of my life! 😀