After a morning of driving with my daughter to Beckley, WV to meet her mom so she can go spend the summer with her I had every intention of going to the trailhead, but after a quick Walmart run to get Ice and Load up on veggies I decided I would go look for a place to make camp because by the time I finished hiking I would not have much time to find a site and set up camp.
I am glad I came to this revelation because the first 3 primitive campsites I went to were full and I was quickly running out of daylight. Luckily a local couple gave me the inside scoop on a white water rapid river launch spot that the locals camp at. It was 45 minutes away and I went down miles and miles of a dirt road that felt never-ending until I reached the river and alas I set up camp right next to the roaring rapids.
Who needs a sound machine when you have the sound of water crashing on rocks to lull you to sleep anyway amirite? I got my tent together which took much longer than it should have, made a fire, cooked, and got in bed after a long day.
I have way too much “stuff”,
When planning for 5 weeks on the road I made the mistake of packing for all 5 weeks rather than relying on the fact that I will have opportunities to stop and pick up supplies on the road.
So a lot of my morning consisted of compacting my gear, finding places in my vehicle to store non-essential items, and giving away some storage bins to a local family to maximize the space in my SUV. Once I broke down the camp and repacked the car I headed to The Trailhead at New River Gorge National Park.
This trail was downright abusive. Sure the elevation drop of 3,000+ feet going down wasn’t so tough but as soon as I got to the bottom and realized that I only had so much daylight left to trek back to the summit there was a bit of fear and panic that set in. I realized that even with all my preparation and planning I would need to make adjustments for the timing to set up camp and get on trails early for this trip to go safely.
I was about a ¼ mile up when my Amazon music lost connection on the way back up and Pandora wouldn’t load so I put on YouTube and after a few songs I was hurting, doubt set in, and I had a moment where I thought that this was it, give up, crawl to the top and pack it in, your out of your element, the trails you do at home look like a literal walk in the park compared to the trails you have planned on this trip, if you cant hit this elevation how will you hit the 14,000 out west?
My inner dialogue was judging the shit out of me and telling me to quit, I was halfway through but halfway meant I still had to go all the way back up, and at that moment the universe and I had a heart to heart and it delivered like it always does: the song switched to a new video and it was a motivational video that said. Losing is hard, winning is hard. But if you hear my voice you have survived every other pit you climbed out of. Remember who you are doing this for( Myself, My Daughter, My Family, You, strangers I haven’t even met yet) now tap into your inner warrior and climb. (Here’s the video for reference: https://youtu.be/2H8r1loNf2o)
And climb I did, In fact, the total hiking time for the 7.8-mile trail was 3 hours and 8 minutes, Before I knew it I was back at the summit and a couple walked up and asked where I came from and told them I hiked down to the river and back to the top and we chatted for a while and I told them this was the first stop of my long journey and we sat and talked for a bit as the sunset over the mountain. It was truly magical.
I decided that since there was no way I was making camp I would start driving towards KY and get a hotel and as a Fathers Day Present to myself I would be able to wake up in a nice king size bed and get a shower in before heading on to my next Trail. I will be back with an update the next time I have a solid wifi signal which hopefully will be more frequent for the next few stops on the way.
“How can you know what you’re capable of if you don’t embrace the unknown?”