Saturday, October 18, 2014

A week in George Washington National Forest

 This past week, I was able to take a break from the stress of schoolwork and extracurricular activities and retreat into nature with a few other women from my university. We went backpacking over our Fall break through our school's Outdoor Adventures program.
 We traveled to George Washington National Forest in Southern Virginia and did some exploring of the trails and places along the Appalachian Trail.
 We were able to meet some through hikers with interesting stories, and their ways of life on the trail reminded me a lot of the Camino de Santiago, which I was able to hike a part of just this past summer. I never realized how big a deal the A.T. was in the US, perhaps because I did not grow up around it; but I now have a great interest in it.
 Unfortunately for my group and I, the weather did not really cooperate with us for our time in the wilderness. There was a lot of rain at the beginning of our week, which forced us to stay at an adorable hostel in Vesuvius, VA. This worked out really well, because without the hostel, we would have been shivering in the downpour for two nights.
My friends and I came across the novel, A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson while playing board games in our hostel. Although I have not read it yet, my friend was able to go through it in two nights and she said that it gave her some great insight as to what to expect while on the trail. I am next in line to read it.
 After two nights in the hostel, we were able to get back out into the field and do some hiking. We spent three nights huddled in our sleeping bags in shelters against the cold and our days were spent exploring.
 For our final night in the field, we camped at the Seeley-Woodworth Trail Shelter and had a blast making our last meals over the camp stove, setting up bear bags, and making our way to the privy in the dark.
 The day before we left to go back home, we day hiked around Crabtree Falls, which was a beautiful hike alongside a waterfall with plenty of switchbacks going up a mountain.
 The views from above were amazing and the fall colors really made the hike worthwhile:
 My week in the wilderness was void of showers, but it was full of adventure and I definitely used the time to do some reflecting on my senior year, developing new friendships, and finding some inner strength.
For more information on George Washington National Park, click here.