32 years ago, continued:
As we walked on this single trail through the darkness, my pack got heavier and heavier. I grew tired, my legs and hips hurt from the rubbing pack. I wanted to go home. I thought I was stupid to come on this trip. I kept this to myself, but began to slow down. One of the leaders began to walk with me and encourage me on, saying, "This is the worst of it, you don't know what's ahead and your'e not used to your pack". Well, finally we reached camp. As soon as we set up our tents, it poured down rain. The next few days we hiked cross country. We had to use our compasses to find our way. We walked through fields, woods, crawled under tons of rhododendron bushes, through streams, up hills--all the while making our way to the top of Mt. Rogers (the highest peak in VA). My pack seemed to mold into my body, I didn't need anyone to put it on me. I kept up with the head leader. It was a beautiful time of the year to be outdoors. The terrain became rougher, and the slope got steeper. But we trudged on. Finally by the next afternoon we reached the top of Mt. Rogers and it was beautiful. It looked like a elf hideaway with huge ferns , big pines. It was such a deep dense forest. We rested there for awhile. Then it was back down the mountain. Our nights had been extremely cold (where we slept in everything we had, plus our boots) and our days were warm. It took at long time to get down the mountain, but finally we got back to the vans and drove a few hours until we got to the Gap.
(to be continued)