Posted by: blueridgetreks | August 6, 2011

Ultra Long Distance Day Hiking

Seven years ago if you had asked me to go for a 5 mile hike, I would have said, “not interested”, much less consider hikes of 28, 41, and 50 miles . In 2004 we spent a week in the Canadian Rockies at a back-country lodge, Mount Assiniboine Lodge. Each day we would hike to the tops of surrounding mountains. I have been hooked on hiking ever since that trip. Mt Assiniboine is the one to the right and referred to as the Matterhorn of the Rockies.

MT Assiniboine from Lake Magog

The Towers mear Mt Assiniboine

I have hiked all over Virginia since returning home. I am a contributor to my friend Tony’s hiking website, hikingupward. Tony gave me a promotion this year to CTO of HikingUpward (Chief Trails Officer), it doubled my salary but 2 x 0 is still not much!! A usual hike for me is in the 8-15 mile range. This past year I have done some extra long hikes of 28 and 41 miles in a day, some places online refer to these types of hikes as “ultra long distance day hikes”. No real good definition explains what an ultra long distance day hike is. I propose that it is at least 15 miles + and done in the course of 24 hours or less

Prior to hiking the 28 mile Catoctin Trail in Maryland in March 2011, my longest day hike was 20 miles.

Catoctin Trail 1/2 Way Point

I did the Catoctin Trail as a Benefit hike with 1 Voice Trekking, a group that hikes to raise money and support for groups that help abused and under privileged children. It took about 11.5 hours to hike the 28 miles.

My second ultra long distance day hike in May 2011 was also a benefit hike. We hiked 41 miles on the Appalachian Trail from the Mason-Dixon Line in PA through MD and ended at Harpers Ferry WV in 17.5 hours, referred to as the MD Challenge. We did this hike on behalf of the The Blue Sky Fund in Richmond VA. Their goal is to “get inner city youth into the great outdoors.” We raised $1300 for them.

Crossing the Potomac at 9:40pm into WV

My last ultra hike in 2011 will be a 5o miler in Sept on the Appalachian Trail, once again with 1 Voice Trekking. This hike will benefit the Diakon Wilderness Center in Boiling Springs PA. This center helps disadvantaged youth become productive members of society, many of them have been referred here by the state. Some of the kids in the program will hike the last 10 miles with us to the Center, our end point. I am looking forward to this hike and I am starting to put in more miles on my morning walks in preparation.

Update 10/22/2011: We did complete the 50 mile hike, in fact we did 52.2 miles in 23.5 hours. Started at Noon Sept 30 and finished at 11:30am on Oct 1, 2011. What a great group to hike with, 1 Voice Trekking. Here is the team prior to the hike:

If you are a hiker and are considering longer hikes here is a little advice:

1. Train: walk, bike, run, put in the miles. Decide what works best for you but don’t go unprepared.

2. On the hike: eat and drink often. You need to eat and drink every 15-20 minutes. Do not wait until you are thirsty and hungry. You will need tons of calories for a long hike. Once you start feeling hungry, thirsty, and weak, it is too late, game over! Eat and drink well before you are even hungry or thirsty.

3. Take care of your feet. If you feel a hotspot on your feet, stop and take care of it. Some people use moleskin, I prefer duct tape. See the Backpacker Magazine slideshow for more information. I have used it a couple of times and I am sold!!

Have fun out there. Like any other hike, check the weather, do it with someone else and let someone else know your plans. Enjoy the great views God has blessed us with and and be safe out there.

Spy Rock (Montebello, VA)

Posted by: blueridgetreks | June 24, 2011

James River – Fuller Rocks

The James River cuts through the Blue Ridge Mountains just downriver from Glasgow, VA. The geologic term for this is “water gap“.

View from Fuller Rocks - 1

View from Fuller Rocks - 2

View from Fuller Rocks - 3

The vantage point at Fuller Rocks, near the intersection of the Appalachian Trail and Little Rocky Row trail, gave us an unobstructed view of the James River. It is about a 4 mile hike north on the A.T. from the James River Footbridge to Fuller Rocks.

A.T. Footbridge - 1

A.T. Footbridge - 2

A.T. Footbridge - 3

We actually made a 12 mile loop hike out of this by also visiting Big Rocky Row Overlook.

Big Rocky Row Overlook

For parking and additional trail information we posted this hike on hikingupward. The views are the best at Fuller Rocks and if you don’t have time to go Big Rocky Row, then just turn around at Fuller Rocks. The Footbridge also makes for a cool side trip and has an interesting story about how it came into being.

PS: James River Fact – It is the longest river (340 miles) in the United States completely contained within the borders of 1 state, Virginia.

Posted by: blueridgetreks | May 19, 2011

Hike Across Maryland – 5/14/2011

This hike is known by a few terms: The 3 State Challenge (PA-MD-WV), The Maryland Challenge, The Hike Across Maryland (HAM), whatever you call it, it was one tough hike!! 5 of us started heading north on the Appalachian Trail from Pen Mar Park at 4:15am to reach the Mason Dixon Line (PA) in 0.3 miles. We were doing this as a benefit hike for the Blue Sky Fund in Richmond, VA, “getting inner-city youth into the great outdoors”. We raised over $1300!!

Mason Dixon Line

Ken, Cat, Scottie, Brian and me quickly took a few photos and then turned back south on the AT back into MD for the majority of the 41 miles we would hike.

Hiking in the dark

It started getting light enough around 6am for us to pack away our headlamps. They would be needed again near the end of the hike. The goal of this hike was 3 States, 41 miles, in less than 24 hours. In the dark we lost the trail at one point and finally about 20 minutes later we were back on track and paid closer attention to the White AT Blazes.

In the Fog

We headed to PA with an 80% chance of rain, we had 2 good rains for about an hour each but for most of the day it was either foggy, misty, dreary, or a slight drizzle. I’ll take the weather we had over trying to do this same hike in the middle of July in 95F and 100% humidity. We were actually pretty fortunate with the type of weather we had. My friends Tony and Linda were our designated supply car drivers meeting us at 4 supply stops throughout the day. Our first stop was at the 10 mile mark at Wolfsville Rd. Cat was only able to join us for this part of the trip as she had to be in Richmond to work the Dominion RiverRock Festival in Richmond that afternoon.

The Team at Wolfsville Road

We quickly got back on the trail after eating some donuts and drinks provided by Tony and Linda, man did they taste good. Everyone felt good, no blisters. Brian and Scottie set a good pace over the next part of the trail to the I-70 Parking Lot near the I-70 AT Footbridge, Ken wasn’t far behind them. In fact, the next photo was the last I saw of them until I-70.

Heading to I-70

I hiked by myself for an hour or so until I crossed paths with a young man named Brian hiking 700 miles of the AT to visit his mother in Asheville, NC. We talked for a few minutes then started hiking together, of course I wasn’t carrying a 36 pound pack like he was, but he kept up, amazing! An hour before I-70 he asked if Tony might give him a ride to Gathland State Park as he wanted to get down the trail and had some blisters he wanted to take care of, Tony of course obliged. Brian was not a “purest” AT Thru Hiker so he was not overtly concerned about skipping a section of the trail. Very nice guy, lost a job recently, and was just trying to get away for a few months to figure out what he was going to do next. It felt good that we could help him out a little.

Brian near I-70

I-70 Halfway Point and Lunch

This was about mile 19, Tony and Linda brought us Subway Sandwiches and hot Starbucks Coffee, what a great morale booster that was. It felt like Tony and Linda were our own personal Red Cross Disaster Relief lunch truck!! Brian joined us for lunch and then got a ride with Tony and Linda. As for the team, Brian and I noticed a few hotspots and took some time to take care of our feet. I added some duct tape to a few spots and changed into a clean pair of socks from my day-pack. Brian used some moleskin on his feet. We spent about 30 minutes here but it was well worth the stop.

I-70 AT Footbridge

We quickly crossed the footbridge and got back on the trail heading towards our next stop at Turner’s Gap (US Alt 40) about 5 miles away, our shortest distance between any of our stops, we made pretty good time. We once again had some drinks, juice and smoothies, and a few snacks and bananas. My photos from this point on became pretty sparse, not sure why, I guess I was just focusing on one foot in front of the other. The rest of the photos were taken by Tony and Linda. Heading to the 4th stop at Crampton Gap/Gathland State Park, Brian’s blisters started getting worse.

Gathland State Park

Gathland State Park was around mile 31 and unfortunately Brian called it a day, blisters were just too much. We were certainly bummed for him as he had come so far. I appreciated him coming out on such a dreary day to raise some money for inner city kids so they could go camping and hiking, thanks Brian!! Brian Fact – He won a Backpacker Magazine trip for 2 to Mt Kilimanjaro, which he took last year with his brother in law, too cool! Tony and Linda stayed with Brian until his brother in law came to pick him up. Scottie had already headed to Harpers Ferry as Ken and I stopped for a quick break here, snacks, drinks and refills to get us to Harpers Ferry. The final section (10 miles) was a mind game and of course we were getting tired. The switchbacks down from Weaverton Cliffs were exhausting and we had to be careful as the rocks were wet. I thought the last 3 miles on the C&O Canal Tow Path would be easy but my feet were pretty sore and that path was really packed down, it felt like I was walking on an concrete road!!

Scottie on the Goodloe Footbridge - 8:15pm, 16 hrs on the trail!!

Scottie crossing the Goodloe Footbridge into Harpers Ferry, WV around 8:15 pm, congratulations Scotti, great job!! Notice it is still somewhat light out.

Ken and Bryce, 9:50 pm, 17.5 hours on the trail

It was dark when Ken and myself trudged in around 9:50 pm to Harpers Ferry, WV, what a great feeling that was! This was definitely the hardest hike I have ever done but doing it for a great cause, The Blue Sky Fund, made it all worthwhile!! Thanks to all our friends, family, and the hiking community who made donations to BSF on our behalf.

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