Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape
We had plans to return to the Mount Rogers area in Virginia this weekend to hike 41 or so miles of the AT. Mike took Friday off work, we were to drive there (5+ hours) Thursday night, and get our shuttle to the trailhead on Friday morning. Bear, our best buddy and tent security expert was to come with us. Due to a lot of change happening in my life right now (like having to move out of my house before our new house is available), I’m staying with Mike at his place in Pennsylvania until we can move. Unfortunately, I don’t know many people around here and couldn’t arrange a sitter for the pugs. When it became apparent a few days ago that we had run out of options for them, we started discussing whether we should just cancel and try to go another time.
This was a conversation I avoided for a couple of days every time Mike brought it up. I loved our prior backpacking trip in that part of VA and was super excited to go back. I mean, PONIES! Even though the forecast was calling for varying amounts of rain all three days, it did not dampen my spirits. Ha, dampen…rain…get it?! I looked at it as a good test for our rain gear and overall preparedness for rainy backpacking. However, since the pugs are too young to stay at home alone for the weekend and would probably burn the house down, and there is no way they could cover that type of mileage, I finally conceded that it was not meant to be.
Mike is the world’s most awesome person, and he suggested we find a trip that the pugs could do. It is daunting to think of bringing three dogs backpacking, but they all have lots of hiking experience and are in shape, healthy, and won’t make us too crazy. So, taking their physical abilities and personalities into account (more on backpacking with your dog in this earlier blog), I started looking for hikes that we could do successfully.
Initially we looked close to home. The AT practically runs through our backyard, so we could set up a shuttle hike pretty easily. But to be honest, the scenery isn’t much, it’s super rocky, and there’s not much in the way of vistas to make up for the misery of the footing. So I started looking around on www.midatlantichikes.com, which is a great resource for finding hikes in MD, VA, PA, and WV. I quickly gravitated toward the Iron Stone Loop Backpack. There are apparently approximately a bazillion great vistas and while there are some rocky and steep parts, overall, it appears to be a pretty easy trail. We agreed that the length of 21.2 miles is just right. We have three days to do it, but will probably finish in two if the dogs are handling the miles well. Knowing that we have an extra day to do it makes it much less stressful than knowing we have to push to finish in time. It’s less than a 2 hour drive to the trailhead, and I grew up going to the nature center at the park entrance. So it will be a bit nostalgic. Added bonus: it’s not calling for rain there.
So the lesson I learned is that in backpacking, as in life, the ability to be flexible and change when circumstances call for it can only help keep you happy and sane. Instead of being bummed out that we couldn’t do the hike we have been looking forward to for months, we are now excited to tackle a new hike and new adventures with the pugs who have never slept in a tent before. Now I just have to figure out how much dog food to pack!