Published on Aug 27, 2011
"I'm calling it dude," I said to Aaron as the sun was setting over northern Maryland. We were about 30 miles into a hike that had taken us all day. We were 13 miles short of our goal, and had just enough time to get to an out before things got dicey.
The 4 State challenge is a 43 mile hike along the Appalachian Trail which runs from the VA-WV border through WV and MD to end at the Mason-Dixon Line (MD-PA border). 4 states, one day. Insanity, boredom, adrenaline fix...whatever. My motivation for taking this on wasn't really important. I just thought it sounded bad-ass.
View 4 State Challenge in a larger map
My buddy, Aaron, was my partner in crime for this trek and we were set to start early and hike all day long. A few days earlier we had done a quick 20 mile afternoon hike through Northern Virginia and things had gone off without a hitch. This time was different. Pretty much everything aligned against us. The day prior I twisted my ankle 4 times over a 15 mile stretch. I'm actually amazed that it wasn't broken. When I finally arrived at our rendezvous point, Aaron wasn't there. He was still driving around somewhere...at 10:30. When he finally dragged his ass up the mountain, I got to ice my ankle and get a little sleep. It was amateur hour. We were both flustered and pissed. I thought to myself, "This isn't how we roll."
We woke up before sunrise and hiked out. The plan was to go light and fast, so we switched to day packs at Aaron's car. My ankle hurt, but no big deal. Soon enough it warmed up and fixed itself. While passing through Harper's Ferry, we ate a quick breakfast at the only place open and pressed on. 30 minutes lost for a good meal...but minutes apparently add up to hours.
Morning thunderstorms didn't phase us, slippery rocks didn't take out any ankles. We hiked fast and without many breaks. We made fun of each other constantly to push the pace. At one point my IT band froze up and I limped along for about 15 minutes, but Aaron assured me that it wasn't my knee, but my lady-parts that were hurting. It fixed itself.
Tired and fatigued, we made the call to not do the last 10 miles into PA. It would have been 3 hours of night hiking that probably would have taken us until midnight. We opted to take a few campers up on their offer of whiskey and thus drank away the memory of our failed endeavor.
We hiked 33.5 miles. Almost exactly 10 miles short of the Mason-Dixon line. There just weren't enough hours in the day. But that's just an excuse.
"Aaron, do you know what fixes sore feet and bruised egos? ....Makers Mark."
Defeated, but happy. Makers Mark began it's work.