Two and a half years after my first hike up Mcafee Knob I was ready to do it again, but this time I was much more prepared. Preparation was key to making my second adventure a much more thorough, enjoyable, and complete experience.
My girlfriend, Haley, and I decided that we were going to hike to the top of Mcafee Knob and camp on the other side, just as I had done previously. However, by this past September, I had already started purchasing equipment for my AT hike, so my gear inventory was large enough to make this camp out much more successful. Most rewardingly that meant we did not have to stay another cold night in my Hammock.
We got everything packed up, supplied at Lidl the night before and set off for our hike extremely early in the morning. Early enough that we got to see the sun rise off the Hampton Bay as we crossed the Hampton Road Bridge Tunnel (google it, weird piece of engineering). We arrived at the trailhead, fought for a parking spot, and embarked on our hike. Haley kicked ass on the way up. I had some frame of reference to how far along we were, but I was still fighting through the pain.
We made it to the top after a two hour hike and the view was captivating. The sky was clear, the fauna green, and the wind calm – it was as beautiful as ever. Haley and I got plenty of photos, met a few other adventurers, and prepared for the second part of our trek.
We set off on another mile hike to our camp spot, but thankfully all of it was downhill. We arrived at a flat area of land, about 30 square yards, and set up my tent along with a few others who were also camping there for the night. It was the first night in the flesh that I had stayed in the tent so I was relieved that the set up went flawless. Next, we started on our Hobo Dinner! It was the first time Haley had eaten it, but I gained experience cooking it while I was a camp counselor. The meal was delicious.
Even with my tent and sleeping bag, I made one egregious miscalculation – we didn’t bring enough blankets. The night was cold and hard on the flat ground, but it was a real life example of cuddling for warmth. We kept warm, but it was a restless night. The weather wasn’t ideal for sleeping outside, the temperature dipped a little low at night, but our real struggle was the rocky ground. A couple more blankets would have been sufficient to buffer the bumps and rocks against our backs.
The next morning we woke up, ate a breakfast consisting of eggs, bacon, and hash browns all cooked over the fire. We begrudgingly cleaned up our site and prepared for the long hike back. The trowel got practice at this point. (he he). The clean up was a good lesson in leaving no trace, comfortable packing, and hike back preparation. Thankfully we had plenty of water.
The hike back started out rough, all the downhill hiking from the day before was paid back to us with an arduous steep uphill one mile hike back to the Knob. On the hike back we ran into a couple great friends who were on their way up to the top! Our return trek was shortened by taking a side trail with less hills that helped our aching backs. After another two hour hike we we arrived at the car and prepared to drive back to Norfolk.
I knew I would be back when I first climbed Mcafee Knob, but I had no idea I would be able to hike it with the love of my life. Life is truly enjoyed in the beauty of nature with the ones you love. I’ve been able to take a pause from the daily grind and enjoy Virginia’s beautiful landscape with some of my life’s greatest peoples and I will forever enjoy it. I know that when I am able to climb Mcafee Knob while hiking the Trail this year, I will enjoy it so much more. I will have the memories of my previous hikes and the joy of knowing I’m almost halfway through my hike.