The FDtributaries DC/Baltimore in partnership with REI set out on an overnight backpacking trip in Shenandoah National Park on the weekend of June 8th, 2018. Despite the unfavorably rainy weather forecast, all 11 participants arrived at the REI Fairfax location just outside of Washington D.C. to start the weekend. The REI lead staff, nicknames Heavy Metal and Thunder, worked to get the crew outfitted with all necessary gear for our adventure. We picked out trail snacks and various freeze dried backcountry meals and were on our way.
A short 90 minute drive west to Shenandoah National Park, a quick stop to pick up backcountry permits, and we were off. A majority of participants had never spent a night in the woods and it was a nervous group at first. Heavy Metal and Thunder did a great job easing anxieties while bringing the experience to life. They shared their extensive knowledge of the area, plant biology, and other notable tips about hiking and camping in the backcountry.
Throughout the experience, participants learned about gear needs, how to pack for overnight and long-distance hiking, navigating river crossings, setting up camp, cooking in the backcountry, and how to manage natural hazards along the trail (insects, plants, lightening, terrain, etc.). In terms of weather, it couldn’t have turned out better. The rain held off long enough for the group to hike in 4.5 miles along a tributary of the Shenandoah river (with ~10 river crossings!), then set up camp and shelter for dinner and campfire. After a short thunderstorm, the group huddled for a headlamp / Nalgene campfire before turning in for the night. It was an absolutely beautiful campsite right along the river!
We woke up to great weather Sunday morning. The day started with coffee and tea, followed by some additional education provided by the REI leads. By this time the group was pretty well bonded, and enjoyed the 4.5 mile hike out. The hike ended with some perfectly timed rain to cool everyone off while hiking the last steep hill out of the backcountry.
Throughout the experience we managed to come up with our band name, along with songs for side 1 & 2 of our first album! It was a fun way to capture bits and pieces of the experience and we can’t wait for the next adventure!