Well I am home! The trip was supposed to be from Sunday 4/25 - Thursday 4/29 for a total of 5 days doing the Front Royal - Harper's Ferry Section of the AT! I left the house around 5:30am stopped to get breakfast and gas and was on my way to Harper's to meet my friend who is hiking with me at 8:00am then off to Front Royal which we should get there by 8:45am or so! Well the saying goes all good plans go to waist!!! Yea I was a Harper's and waited, and waited, finally I call to find out where he is? He said that he over slept and should be there by 9:00am, about 9:30 he pulls up, ok not so mad now as he did show up! Got to the trail head at 11:00! Why 11 you ask? Well he had to stop to get something to eat, and some other things that he needed!!! We were standing at the trail head and all my previous thoughts went away, all except for one? While we were at the store I went in to use the bathroom, I decided to grab something to eat while we were there, and the lady at the register said that there is a chance for HAIL today/tonight? What? Now I have been looking at the weather report for the past 3 weeks prior to our start and even the morning before I left the house and I never saw this! All I saw was rain/thunder storms for the first two and a half days!?
As we were hiking the sky's cleared and according to the thermometer on the shoulder strap of my pack it was 78*, and, it was clear sky's and sunny! What a great start to a strange morning!? Or so I thought? The plan for the day was to hike to Jim & Molly Denton Shelter and have a bite to eat and rest for a little bit which was about 5-5.5 miles from the starting point! Well we made it there in very good time only a couple hours had past, so we were making pretty good time! Well we stopped and rested, filled up our water bottles, and had something to eat! Man it had turned out to be such a nice day! So on ward we went--------- Well after a couple nice size hills, we pass under rt66 for a hundred yards or so of road walking till we get back on the trail. By this time I am feeling very good, not winded, my feet are a little sore (all the little pointed rocks everywhere) but all is good, in a case is a current copy of the trail topo, so we take a look, and then a second, then a third, then we pull out the trail guide, wait a minute, we had planed on a 14 miler on the second day with about a 1100ft elevation climb, nope, we were doing it today!
Well we mushed on up, and up, and up, it felt like it would never end. Now the whole time we were hiking together with no problems, well apparently that didn't last very long during this climb! I was noticing that the gap between us was getting bigger, and bigger, I would stop for a while see him then turn around and I would keep going, well about an hour went by and he was no where to be seen, I figured that he stopped and took a break and would catch up in a bit? Well that never happened! I arrived at the Manassas Gap shelter (our home for the night) got the Hammock set up, everything was ready to go, I went down and filled up my new Aquasimple from Paul at AHE (worked great) finished up a few things then I looked at my watch, I arrived at the shelter at about 6-6:30pm, and it was now 7pm and he still hasn't shown up? I start to wonder if everything is ok? About 7:30 he finally shows up falls on the ground and say's I need water can I have some of your water, I say sure and hand him my water bottle, not paying any attention to what is going on, I keep getting my things squared up for the night! I had my tarp in porch mode with a great view, I turn around and he's gone, I say ok maybe he went down to the shelter. I gather my cooking stuff and food and head down to the shelter to make my dinner, it's just starting to get dark out so I think this is going to be great I'll eat rest my feet, hang my food, then go rest in the comfy hammock?! No that didn't happen, when I got to the shelter and look in I see my friend laying on the floor of the shelter, no shirt, no pants, in his boxers curled up in a ball, my first thought was "OH S___" I call his name and he responds, whew, then I look and don't see his pack, so I ask, where is your pack? His reply "I left it on the trail", what I say, where? I don't know a ways back he says! So I said somethings wrong, lets take a closer look, come to find out that he's very dehydrated, stoped sweating, and was cold but not shivering yet, first thought was to call for the medevac helicopter and rescue team, then I thought what he needs is water , dry warm clothes, and his sleeping bag first and now, if there is going to be any chance of him making it either through the night, or till more help arrives to get him out! So I give him my water and rush back out down the trail to find his pack, as the weather/temp is supposed to get bad, I walk a little, run a little, 30 minutes go by of this then I see his pack! Thank god I say!!!!! I grab it look up and it's getting dark, thank god I brought my headlamp with me!!!! Now I pick up his pack, holly cow this thing weighs almost 50lbs, and I left my hiking poles bake with my stuff! Well no choice I mush on up one hill, then two, and a third, turn the corner (the whole time I am using my headlamp cause I can't see the trail) Why do you ask why I can't see the trail, well the fog rolled in, clouds are getting darker, oh boy, this ain't gonna be good! Well it felt like I had been hiking for ever, then I turned the corner and saw the shelter sign, I can't put into words how happy I was!!!!! I got to the shelter, and found him still curled up on the floor, passed out! I called to him and he responded and was able to answer my questions without pause which is a good sign, so I got out his sleeping bag, warm clothes and gave it too him, when he crawled into his bag I went back up to get my food and eat dinner, well I got everything set up and cooking and looked at my food and although I was hungry, I didn't want to eat as my stomach felt nauseous, but I had a little to eat and was off to bed!
It was about 10pm now and was really tired, I looked up at the sky and it looked black! So I took out my hiking poles and dropped my tarp down as I had it in porch mode, now storm mode! I crawled in the hammock, with my Golite 3 season TQ, my Crowsnest UQ, I was still in my shorts and tee shirt and was too tired to change my clothes! The whole time I was laying there I was thinking I should pack up and go down to the shelter and stay there so that I can check on him, but as I sat up the heavens opened, first it was rain, pouring down, even sideways at times, then hail the size of quarters, needless to say I wasn't sleeping yet and it was about midnight before it all calmed down, I dosed off around 1am, but woke up at 3am and went down to check on him, he was snoring (which is normal for him) I woke him up asked him a few questions, gave him some more water and then he fell back asleep! So did I, I had gone back to the hammock and passed out till about 8:30am or so, packed up camp, went down to the shelter and woke him up, and he sat up said he felt much better, but wasn't going to keep going to Harpers, which was fine by me! Then he said that I could go on, and that he would hike back 2 miles to the road and get a cab or shuttle back to his car, I laughed and said you think after what happened yesterday and last night that I'm gonna let you go anywhere by yourself your messed in the head, I said my trips over I will hike with you at your pace right behind you, take as many stops and time as you need, well I was carrying extra water just in case he needed it. We made it to the road with no problems, got a cab and made it out, right now he is home resting and drinking lots of fluids and eating as I keep texting him to check on how he is doing!
So not the trip I had planned, and almost a true disaster, but I learned one thing, my set-up can handle torrential rain (sideways at times) and hail, the temp got down to 38* and was toasty warm, at times even hot that I had to vent not only the UQ, but TQ too, once I had to do it to both at the same time! Tanks to everyone that I have gotten gear from on HF, like Stormcrow, Paul, Opie, 2QZQ (for the zipper mod, which was great, I don't think I would have been as comfortable, or easy to vent the quilts without it)and many others, HF is such a great place, and I really don't think that I would have made it through the night of hell without the great posts of great information by all of you on here, especially Shug, your vid's have been a great learning tool for me! Big thanks to all of you!
I will stop babbling and post the pic's that I was able to get! Enjoy!