Friday, March 8, 2013

Overnight makes all the difference

Yes, we knew that there was a 100% chance for snow in the forecast, but how bad could it be in March? Ha, always listen to your instincts, I say! And mine said, March storms are not just flurries!

Danny arrived mid afternoon to his pick-up point in beautiful, albeit cold weather.
And of we go to finish up seeing Gettysburg - the museum especially. 

Watching the sky as we come back in to Chambersburg, we see a few clouds only but the weather report is "ominous and foreboding" as Danny loves to say.
 Although this is from the next day, it is exactly like the one from the evening before. Snow all night and all day is reported. And this is what we woke up to ...

  ... wet, sticky, huge, beautiful snowflakes; the car under 6 inches of snow, the streets slushy while everything is white and a temperature of 34 degrees. We were unable to see the mountains to the east where we were planning on going for the day. It was decided that we would take what is called "zero" day meaning that zero miles would be hiked. Instead, it become a laundry, catch-up day.

By that evening the snowfall had abated to occasional bursts but it remained cold enough that nothing was melting. The locals were all saying, "don't worry, it will be melted by tomorrow!" and I thought"wanna bet!"

Awaking to occasional clouds and sunshine, Danny prepared for his hike of the day. Not only was it with snow conditions, but also the longest one that he had done and with no accessible extraction points along the trail (due to the snow conditions). Do you have enough food? Do you have enough clothing? Do you have your matches and fire starter? Do you ... Do you ... he is going to get real tired of my questions pretty soon, I guarantee it! All from the comfort of my warm car ...  

Part of these shortish (8 miles) days has been trying to decide which shoes to wear. He has decided on his Keen's but sandals in the snow?  Thank goodness for WalMart bags. Not only do they keep him dry, but also warm!

And he is ready to go ...

And he is off 

 with 6-8 inches of freshly fallen soft snow without a crust and anyone ahead of him
A beautiful, tranquil scene filled with my trepidation about this whole thing. 

As I went about my own agenda,
   observation tower at Gettysburg Military Park overlooking the Confederate battle positions and yes I went all the way to the top

 the first Union soldier to be killed - Pvt Geo. W Sandoe
I did this as a geocache. Fun and outside of the national park.

 This is really the Thaddeus Stevens who was part of Lincoln's proclamation group, also an educator, conservationist, and Pennsylvanian statesman

 Caledonia State Park and another iron ore oven that has been saved for historical purposed. Waited here for Danny to come to the pickup point after trying to get up the mountain to a point where the trail crossed a road. Too much snow.

... I closely watched his movement on the Spot to reassure myself that he was doing fine.
 as I was tethering to my cell phone, I only had this capability in the areas close to the highway so I stayed close to it.

Finally, as it was turning to dusk, he came out to the road. I was so happy to see him, a tired but satisfied person who had met the challenge and then some: 12+ miles, breaking a path in 6-8 inches of snow, up and down in the mountain. He did have a snowshoe-clad person ahead of him who had sunk into the snow at most, 6 inches.  snow shoe tracks. 
With every step he would pretty much bottom out, utilizing far more energy than normal hiking would do.

Because of the physical stress of this hike, it was decided to do a short hike the next day. Driving back to the start point, it was patently obvious that he would have more of the same - sunshine, cold temperatures, and snow. The nice thing about slack hiking is that decisions like this can be made. We drove around to the exit point and saw that there indeed was still a lot of snow going through the mountains. Instead we went further south where it wasn't as bad and here he put in.
 along the drive we saw this building - a military college? University? No, a state nursing home.

and he is off once more...  ...not much snow or so it seems

 a cosy setting off in the woods.

 a babbling brook with stones to cross over it. I think that the spring thaw could prove to be quite dangerous as the water levels rise.

 he crosses the Mason Dixon line - the boundary between Maryland and Pennsylvania

 one of many mileage signposts

... and comes out on the top of a mountain in Pen Mar County Park, MD. Again having crossed mountains, valleys, through trees and across open spaces, all in snow.

Tomorrow? well, I guess more of the same but with each turn of the trail something new will come about and add to the already memorable experience. 

The rest of the afternoon we spent touring Pres. Eisenhauer's retirement farm, "the only home they ever owned"