Hike Day!

John, Tim, and myself waiting for the hike to start.

After months of training (inconsistent training, but we did get in about 8 training hikes) it was finally hike day!  Sandy drove us out to White’s Ferry for the start of the hike and we ran into John, one of my friends from work who had started doing the 50k hike a few years ago.

Stretching and waiting





Click on map for a closer look

Unfortunately, Tim was just getting over being sick and if that wasn’t bad enough, last night he got a work call and was up a couple hours working when he should have been resting for the hike.  He was dragging pretty badly and the hike hadn’t even started yet.   This was a bit worrisome because the hike can be pretty grueling even when you’re feeling well.  Our longest training hike was 20 miles but today we had to go almost twice as far.

We had a long way to go!

The support stations were wonderful with lots of energy foods and drinks to keep us going.

I was rocking it in the beginning, lots of energy and excited to get going.  Tim was the opposite and needed extra time at each support station to recuperate before moving on.

We had downloaded podcasts of Wait! Wait! Don’t tell me! and listened as we hiked along.  We each used our own headphones so we had to time the start of each podcast to listen to them together.  Some of the contestants were hysterical and from time to time we would start laughing out loud which I think made us look a little crazy to the other hikers who had no idea what we were listening to.

Tim begun to pick up steam as we got into the afternoon.  But now I started to have problems.  With about 8 miles left in the hike I got a nasty blister on the back of my left foot.  I tried to compensate by shoving my foot forward in the shoe but that was a big mistake.  By the end of the hike I had killed 5 toenails between my two feet which slowly fell off in the weeks that followed.  Ew!


You know you’re getting close to the end when you finally find the bridge that takes you across the Potomac into Harper’s Ferry.  The joy of getting to this point is short lived when you discover the path on the other side of that bridge is almost all uphill.  Brutal!

But we did finally make it.  The hike which started at 10am came to a close at 7:13pm that evening after a somewhat sad average of 3.37 mph.  Pathetic!  But still faster than our first hike when we were much younger.

We’ve now completed four of the One Day Hikes.  Here are our stats:

2001 – 50k – we finished 17th our of 36 people (1o of which dropped out before the end point).  The fastest hiker was done at 6:30pm and the slowest went all the way until 10:10pm.  We finished at 9:05pm.

2003 – 80k – This was the longest hike I’ve ever done (or will ever do!)  There were 14 hikers and we finished in 2nd place at 8:10pm with an avg of 3.51 mph.  Yeah us!!!

2005 – 50k – This time we were in 10th place out of 74 hikers – we finished at 6:07pm with an avg of 3.83 mph

2015 – 50k – 182 hikers and we still finished in the top 25% – we came in 47th place, finishing at 7:13pm with an avg of 3.37 mph

Toughening up our feet

On some of the coldest days we opted to use Fair Oaks mall for our training hikes. 8.75 miles of back and forth in the mall makes for a messy looking map.

Tim and I are doing the C&O Canal One Day Hike again this year.  We just finished our final training hike, a 20-miler on the WO&D trail through Vienna.  All together we’ve done 6 training hikes (Tim snuck in a few extra), which is far fewer than we anticipated doing, but we were sidelined by poor weather, sickness, and sore feet.

This will be our fourth hike.  Ten years have passed since we last did this.  In 2001 we set off without a single training hike (or maybe we did one) and finished the 50k at a very late 9:05pm (I believe our start time was 10am).

Tim and I at the end of the 50k hike in 2005

Our most ambitious endeavor was in 2003 when we did the 80k hike.  We had for years heard of the time my uncle Bruce had attempted a 50 miler and he almost made it until a kindly neighbor offered a ride towards the end of his hike.  Sore feet and tired legs betrayed my uncle and he accepted the ride.  I completely understand this.  The 80k was brutal and I think the only reason I was able to complete it was I didn’t want to let Tim down and bail out.  The last 10 miles were pretty miserable, but we did finally complete the hike  at 8:10pm after 14 hours and 10 minutes averaging 3.51 mph.

Our last hike was in 2005.  Still scarred by the C&O death march of 2003 we opted for the much more reasonable 50k again.  We finished at 6:07pm averaging 3.83mph.

And now we’re just 2 weeks away from doing it again on Sat April 25.