04 June 2011

Hiking the Shenandoah

With my surgery looming, I planned several events to take my mind off the upcoming pain and immobility. One thing I was dead set on was spending a weekend out hiking. I should partially credit the idea to the Appalachian Ridgeback for her blog and great hiking photos. So, for a challenging weekend backpacking trip I figured I would go hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail located in the Shenandoah National Park. With Cyprus off at a dog show, the Shaman and I packed up and headed west to Front Royal, VA, the northern tip of the park.
Early on the Saturday before the surgery we arrived at the park and after a few minutes of loading up our packs we started hiking. Having never been here before, I only had a vague idea where to get started. While walking into the wilderness without any real plan may not sit well with everyone, I liked the idea of not being bound by any particular itinerary and figured we would just have a good time at our own pace. We would hike south and camp in the backcountry when it got dark and in the morning we head back. So it began.
My pack mule.
In my pack I had a tent, a liter of water, a jacket and pants, and several bags of almonds and beef jerky. I recently bought a dehydrator and have been experimenting with various jerky recipes. In Shaman's pack, he carried his leash, collar, water bowl and approximately 2 liters of water. At each break we drank from his water first, so his pack weight dropped drastically as we went along. As the weekend went on I made a mental list of things I should get before I go out for another adventure like this. Luckily the weather was nice and we were only going to be out one night, so we were going to survive event without the gear we carried.

The portion of the trail we hiked, while having some challenging areas, offered few outlooks to enjoy the views. Still, we took a few side trails that gave us a decent view every now and then. We would go for long stretches without seeing any other people so I kept Shaman off-leash and let him do his own thing. All wildlife in the park is protected, and dogs are to remain leashed, however Shaman will not chase anything unless I give the okay and when he wears his pack he is less inclined to run around.
A perfect day to be out hiking.
Rocks, rocks, and more rocks.
Shaman has a fascination with ledges.
We hiked approximately 15 miles and camped near a shelter. Having regained most of my mobility after my first surgery, I felt we covered decent ground. When we did encounter others, usually they commented on Shaman's Ruff Wear pack or the fact I was hiking in my Vibram FiveFinger Treks. We encountered several thru-hikers and had some great conversations regarding long-term hiking, camping, and discussed their nutrition. I intend to discuss some of this in a future post.

With the intent of being as active as possible before my surgery I must say I was quite satisfied with this small adventure. I intend to go back and spend a longer time in Shenandoah when time and my knee permits it.