Thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail is one of the many illusive dreams I have that I want to accomplish at least once during my lifetime. Some people call it a bucket list. Being in college, we don’t get many breaks, so I decided to do a thru-hike of the 58 mile Knobstone Trail instead. The Knobstone Trail is rated as a pretty difficult trail not for beginners. Long story short, we got to around mile 14 and decided to call it a loss and turn around.
Now, for the long story.
We arrived at Deam Lake Trailhead around 5:30 PM on Thursday. We were planning on buying the map from the the office but they closed earlier. There was no way we were going to wait until morning. Oh well, we didn’t know how to use the compass, anyway. It was alright since I had signal throughout pretty much the entire trail as it crossed many roads. Well… at least to mile 14.
We started hiking at 6 PM. Our goal was to make it to “Knob Hill” and camp at mile 7.3, or so said the guidebook I bought. Who knew it would get dark at 7:30! We had a little mishap and followed some black blazes (newbiez) which led us to a road. In our defense, it’s hard seeing in the dark. It didn’t take that long for us to backtrack though. We ended camping at a really nice spot a little before mile 6. Man, we were exhausted (will later learn the actual meaning of this word). Probably brought too many granola bars that were weighing me down.
We woke up refreshed and ready to go! Since we were a little behind schedule, we would have to do around 15 miles to make it to mile 21. Hard, but doable. A very reliable online resource said the average hiker can hike around 2 mi/hr. We were young, fit, and athletic, so we should be able to do it right?
Well, maybe. If we didn’t get lost.
Shortly after this picture on the saddle of Knob Hill, we unfortunately got off trail a little before mile 7. The trail was marked but was a bit hidden to the right. Instead, we climbed all the way up the hill where openings met. At the time, we thought this was Knob Hill since it was *technically* the highest point. Let’s call this the not-on-trail hill because it makes a reappearance.
We decided to go straight despite seeing red tape on the trees. We would later find out that this either meant that you’re getting off trail or that there’s a horse trail coming up. We reached a horse trail and decided to roll with it because we were too stubborn to go all the way back. It was our lucky day because it finally lead back to the trail! Yay! Except for the fact that it lead us back to literally right after mile 6, a little after where we started. Great. Time to climb Knob Hill again.
For the second time, we still didn’t see the the trail marker and climbed all the way back up on the not-on-trail hill. We backtracked this time though, and finally found the trail. Woo! We’re back in the game. Too bad it was already around 1 PM and we were running out of water. We found a nice stream (first water source from Deam Lake Trailhead) between mile 8 and 9. Morale was back up.
A lot of bushwhacking later, we reached mile 13.5 when we saw a sign saying to not enter and that there was logging. It showed us the reroute which was before mile 13. Would have been real helpful if the sign was there half a mile ago. Again, with our stubbornness, we decided that we would never make it on schedule if we backtracked and took the reroute. We went through the logging instead and got hopelessly lost. We were doing pretty good in the beginning though! We followed all the blazes we could see, and guess what? Ended up around where we started. Seems to be a common theme. That was the low of the trip when we realized we would be better off just turning around. We saw a family at a campsite earlier and decided to take the night there. It was already dark when we set up camp.
It was going to be a good day. The weather was perfect. We already knew the route. We wouldn’t get lost again. We filled up water at a pretty large creek next to the Bypass between mile 12 and 13.
Doing good on time, we passed mile 7 and reached Knob Hill at around 3 PM. We were set on setting up camp around Knob Hill to watch the sunset and sunrise with the best view possible. So we decided to go BACK up the not-on-trail hill (a third time) because we thought it’d be a pretty camp. We were wrong. So back we went. Shortly back on the trail, we saw another off-trail path. It seemed to lead to a pretty high point, so we took it. A lot of thorns, sweat, tears, and bushwhacking later, we reached an overgrown campsite. I probably got about 20 bug bites and 10 cuts JUST FROM GOING UP THAT HILL, not even exaggerating. Take risks in life, they said… man I should have brought long pants. Anyways, although it did seem like the tallest point, we decided to look for a different campsite.
It’s mainly rock around the opening on the saddle where the good views are. We found a gem of a spot, although on a slant and needed a little bit of weeding, and took it.
Ah, it was breathtaking. It took a few hours and the sun setting to get rid of my crankiness and overall irritation, but it was well worth it. Somehow, it’s always worth it. We had a great night, ending with a sunrise.
Okay, now I was almost definite that today would be seamless. We had less than 7 miles to go. It was breezy and absolutely beautiful weather for hiking. The hike from 0-6 was relatively clean and easy. And it was! We reached my car at the trailhead around 12:30 PM. Only an hour and a half drive, and then would get some Chinese food. It was going to be great.
… we arrived home with one of the pipes busted and flooding the house.
At least my butt got a little firmer (from hiking up “Knob Hill” 3 times).