Yesterday was my sixth hike with the DC Metropolitan Hikers meetup group, and all of them have been organized by the same leader – The Hiking Addict (from now on referred to as “THA”). I knew nothing about hiking when I started doing this on January 15, 2012, but I know quite a bit more now. THA has been a great teacher. What I have learned, both on my own and from THA:
Show up on time because THA leaves exactly at 8:30am
THA doesn’t stop on the way for restroom breaks
Bring the map
Read the map (THA has taught me how to do this)
Bring a thermos of hot coffee for the ride home
Bring a change of shoes, socks, and sweatshirt
Which hiking poles to buy and how to use them
It is not only ok, but necessary to pee in the woods
Don’t bring too much water – it is heavy
I only need half as many snacks as I think I need
It is ok to go uphill really slowly, as in one mile per hour
Going downhill isn’t as easy as one would think
Don’t try to keep up with the fastest hikers, it is ok to be all the way in the back
My new purple hiking poles:
My snacks, an apple/pear, trail mix, home made energy bar, sport beans, and that is my breakfast wrapped up in the foil, a banana burrito. A wrap, peanut butter, and a banana. Very transportable and easy to eat.
This week’s hike brought me to new levels of hiking phobia. We took a fairly easy trail that led us to a place called Compton’s Peak. This is the first hike where I actually had views of something.
The trail went to the right, where the views are:
This was a little scary – being close to the edge of a mountain:
Then the trail went to the left, to a really rocky section that seemed to end. At least I thought it ended, but no, THA said we could go down farther. I asked how could we go down, and she said we could either go to the left, down a very steep hill that was wet, muddy and slippery, or down to the right, which was just rocks. I didn’t know we could get down those rocks, and I had no idea how we would get back up, so I said that I wasn’t going to go. I was afraid I would never get back.
THA said that I would miss something spectacular if I didn’t go down, and she was confident that I could get back up. She said she would be behind me the whole way. Since this was the sixth hike I’ve been on with her, I knew that she was aware of my abilities, and wouldn’t let me do anything that I couldn’t do. Sigh. So I did it.
I watched the person in front of me as he sat on the top rock and lowered himself down, rock by rock, on his butt. It was like going down the stairs on one’s backside. So I sat down and down I went. Not so bad after all, but I was still extremely anxious about getting back up. Looking up it seemed that there was no way to get up.
But this is what we found at the bottom:
These columnar rock formations that were formed 570 million years ago in the Neoproterozoic era. Here is me in front to get an idea of the scale:
See the guy waving his arms in this photo? That is where we started out. How I did this, I have no idea.
Then it was time to go back up. It seemed like a wall of rocks to me, but I put one foot on a rock, and then a knee on another rock. I realized that I could go up on my hands and knees, while holding my poles and with my backpack on my back. It actually didn’t take long once I got the hang of it, and I couldn’t look down. I said, “I am using the kindergarten method” and THA said “Whatever it takes.” But I made it to the top, and continued on my way.