You may remember a few months back when I mentioned Andrew Skurka's concept of "type one" fun while hiking, as opposed to "type two" fun. As a reminder, type one fun is fun at the time, and fun to talk about later. Type two fun is not fun at the time, but fun to talk about later. Well, my much anticipated four day trip to the Cranberry Wilderness in West Virginia (approximate location marked below) was definitely type two fun. No doubt about that.
Just getting to the trailhead was an adventure! I went with my friend Carl and his engaging daughter Libby. They picked me up Thursday morning at my home, and we were on the road to adventure! Neither Carl nor I had a West Virginia highway map (mistake number one) but he had a GPS and I had specific instructions from this Backpacker Magazine on-line article: "drive 22 miles west from Millwood, WV." The article should have said east, not west. We drove right past the road to the trail, drove 22 miles to Millwood, and went 22 miles west to end up in - a city. I found a map there and realized that we had gone right past the point, now nearly 50 miles behind us. It was a very frustrating realization. So we hit the trail very late Thursday, about 4:30, and only hiked 3 miles to a decent camping site.
Our route is shown below, each of the four days in a different color (day one - red; two - grey; three - magenta; four - yellow). Our original plans were for a 23 mile loop, following the northerly part of the trip on this map, then swinging north, not south, to pick up the Middle Fork Trail. Instead, we did a 15 mile route - out on the North Fork Trail, returning on the Forks of the Cranberry Trail. We gained about 2,900 feet on the hike, and descended about 3,600 feet. Because we ended up more than three miles south of the car, Carl provided limo service by running to the car, and driving down to pick us up.
Saturday, well enough to eat that bagel, we talked and decided that instead of doubling back to the car, about four miles away, we would continue and do the loop indicated on the map above. We guessed it would be about 7 miles (it was actually about 11) and that we could be out late Saturday and end the trip a day early. As it turned out, I could not do it all in a day, even with some help from Carl, so we made a late camp Saturday night in a spruce forest on top of a mountain, and completed the trip Sunday. I cannot remember the last time I felt so ill and wiped out - maybe not since doing chemotherapy.
Well, more to come later. The trip did produce some good moments. Libby had a great time with her dad, and was totally great to get along with. She is quite the little hiker - I was pretty impressed.
Here I am at the start of the trip. It was the last time I felt good until - well, I can't tell you, because I still don't feel good two full days after getting home!