Expedition Five took place from January 9 – 14. It was a twenty-five mile trip through deep snow, ranging from one to two feet deep, with an elevation change of 2,600 feet. I felt it was a good expedition overall, even though there were some times when I just wanted to give up. The hike was through some beautiful country and along some very nice trails in Eastern Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. We hiked along the Virginia Creeper Trail the majority of the time, and the campsites were great, although some of them were short on wood. It snowed every day, with the exception of two, and the men had to break trail for two days in a row because Mr. Mike had hurt his back. It was a fun experience to be in front, even as my backpack seemed to get heavier and heavier each day. After a couple of days of hiking in deep snow, my back and shoulders were killing me.
On Day One, it was a normal wake up for me, although I hadn’t slept much because I was so excited. After a good breakfast of eggs, bacon and coffee cake, I started getting nervous as we were waiting around to leave, especially when I saw that it was only three degrees outside. The hike that day was a short three mile, mostly uphill trek which wasn’t too bad. There were lots of animal tracks along the trail, including deer, coyote, raccoon, bobcat, and a few dogs. The snow was deep and it was hard hiking through that. After getting camp set up, I warmed my numb fingers beside a nice warm fire, and then retired for the night.
Day Two began with cold and cloudy weather. It was a hard morning for me, because I was tired from the day before. Brent and William were late getting to rally so I had to walk around to keep warm. The hike was mostly along roads and through a tree farm which had a very pretty view. I was worn out by the second break. The seven miles we hiked pushed me and everyone else to their limits, both mentally and physically. It was late and cold when we arrived in camp, so we set up fast. It was a pretty camp site with lots of good wood, and since it was snowing like crazy, there was plenty of water.
Waking up on Day Three revealed another cold, cloudy, and snowy day. We hiked three to four miles along the Virginia Creeper Trail to Trestle Camp. The hike felt much longer than it actually was. I was so tired, I fell asleep by the fire after we arrived in camp, but was soon awakened by a classmate who checked on me because I wasn’t moving.
The morning of Day Four was bright and cold, and there were a couple of inches of new snow on the ground. Getting a fire started was easy after thawing out my hands a little. We hiked another few miles to a new camp site, where we had a tent city with the other guys because of the weather and because the camp site was small. The guys had a huge fire that night with flames higher than my head. It felt nice to have such a fire, and to dry out our gear and sleeping bags.
On Day Five we hiked less than a mile to Straight Branch, where we had a first-aid review class. I was glad to have it, because I like knowing my fellow classmates can help me in an emergency, and that I can do the same for them. The skies were clear for a change, and it was a good day.
Day Six began with a very cold, clear, crisp morning. We were allowed to wake up late. The fire took a little while to start because I put it out by accident, and then it was stubborn until we left for rally. After getting the tent packed up, we headed home for hot showers, parmesan chicken, green beans, porridge rolls, mashed potatoes, and fruit salad.
It was a good expedition for pushing myself and learning more of what I am capable of doing in the extremes of East Tennessee weather.