Today we welcome guest blogger, longtime friend, and fellow athlete T! Thank you for this gripping account of our weekend adventure:
Last weekend A & B put their years of training to the test. After driving at least an hour into the perilous wilds of northern Virginia, they found themselves in the foothills of the great Appalachians with three intrepid friends — E, D & T — ready to confront America’s most iconic hiking trail.
View from atop the Piedmont Trail after 2200 ft of [trudging] elevation gain
In the beginning they were beset with hardship. The air was hot and thick and the sun shone mercilessly on their carefully-covered heads (B was particularly dashing in a cotton candy-pink sunhat borrowed from A). The trail climbed steeply through a shadeless meadow, and the scarce relief to be had beneath the meadow’s few trees was booby-trapped with cow pies in various states of decomposition. At least one member of the party fell prey to the poop and had to douse her bag with hand sanitizer.
Their years of training, however, had prepared them to persevere, and A & B led the hiking party to the crest of the hill. The view of the valley below was striking, but words of commendation were reserved. After 0.6 miles, A & B knew that anything could happen.
B modeling my fetching headgear
The hiking party pressed through the woods and onto another meadow ridge. Aside from the occasional ringing of cell phones, whirring of airplanes, and rumbling of tractors, the music of birds and insects filled the air. Fortunately the hiking party was amply protected from insects by layers of bug repellant re-applied at 1 hour intervals, and man-eating birds are uncommon in Appalachia. Other fearsome animals were encountered, though. A black snake was observed sunning itself on the edge of the trail. Its intentions were ambiguous, but A led the party in tip toe-ing past it as unobtrusively as possible.
As A & B have discussed previously on this blog, a well-balanced diet is essential to maintaining fitness. Therefore, in spite of the lack of picnic tables, A advised the group to break for lunch on the grass. The tall grass being known to harbor snakes, the group settled down on the trail itself. After an uneventful meal the group noticed dog ticks crawling unabashedly over their shorts and decided that lunch was over.
Festive & friendly turtle friend
Having survived snakes, dogs, dog ticks, and an impressively graceful slip on a wet rock, A & B began exchanging words of commendation. The decision to proceed with the walk on such a hot day when the trail was surrounded by inviting wineries was amply commended. B’s hat may also have been commended. The group’s patience in waiting to commend each other was most certainly commended. This commendation refreshed the group and in no time at all the visitor’s center was just a mile away. As if to reward the group for their perseverance, a turtle appeared in the middle of the trail. The turtle bore an offering of grass in its mouth, and posed for a series of pictures. The offering of grass was taken as a sign that the group should stop for ice cream on the way home.
Finally the group returned to the parking lot. Having completed a 7 mile hike in 90 degree heat including a portion of the Appalachian Trail, A & B [Ed note: and all of the hearty hikers!] knew that they could tackle anything.