Friday, October 20, 2017

Backpacking George Washington National Forest

Hiking GWNF was something I had somewhat planned on doing for some time. I knew I wanted to go and what I wanted to do but I really did not have an exact location in mind. After a lot of research, we decided on Hone Quarry Recreation Area. With ample parking and an abundance of hiking trails, we knew it would suit our needs best. We had planned on going there for just an overnight since we were limited on time and had another location in mind for our second night. We left immediately after work and took the 111 mile journey from Richmond to Ashby, VA. It was a long route but we made it with about an hour of daylight left. We decided to park at the campground, pay the $5 and begin our hike.
The start of the trail is across from the restrooms/signage, so we had to trek up the main road to get to the trail we were going to take. The hiking trail was quite rough, and not well manicured, but we did not mind that as much. It was, however, quite steep and at some parts quite difficult to manage with a 25 pound Osprey pack (I carry the Aura AG 50) on my back. As it had been raining earlier, the trail was quite damp and muddy. We managed to get passed a lot of the switchbacks and made it to the first large clearing, where we knew we would be camping for the night.
We unloaded some of our gear, put up our tent, and I began grabbing the stuff for our dinner that evening. As GWNF is a no burn area, you have to bring your own burning system. I really like my JetBoil and it comes in handy. It is meant to cook for two people, so if you have any more than that, I recommend sizing up). I had made some pre-planned meals (rice sides are great- same with mac and cheese or noodle bowls work well too) and you can bring dried meats to add. Small snack sized bag meals are perfect. I began cooking our mushroom risotto and we enjoyed a little bit of sunset we saw through the clouds. After dinner, we cleaned up, ate our dessert (i brought some dessert packs) and we went to sleep.
The next morning was perfect! We were able to watch the clouds roll in over the valley and got a peek of sunrise. The weather was perfect: a slight chilly morning but not too cold we didn't need heavy layers. We woke up, had our breakfast with coffee and began packing up our campsite to head back to the car. Next stop: Shenandoah National Park.

While this has decent views at the site we chose, the views along the trail are limited and due to the trees, you really cannot see very much. Our spot had great views of the reservoir below and does have great views, but the hike did not. We still recommend this if you are new to backpacking as it will give you an idea of what true backcountry is like (and if you find it's not for you, you can easily camp at the campsite with bathrooms and showers). As our spot was quite spacious, you can easily have more than one tent, and if you prefer the hammock option, this is a great site for that as well. WARNING: This area is bear country and they do recommend storing your food. We sealed our bags well and kept our trash in sealed containers as well. Make sure you prepare accordingly. 

No comments:

Post a Comment