June 4, 2013
Today’s mileage: 18.2
Total mileage: 1116.4
Our first night hike is now complete. We arrived at camp at 11:00 PM tonight. And no, this will not be a regular thing for us.
Let’s go back to the beginning, as James Lipton would say. I woke up just before 8 after a restful night’s sleep. Miles, Medicine Man, and Kudo went up to the site of the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg while I slept longer. Miles brought me up breakfast before they left so that I could eat in bed. When they got back around 9, we all packed up our packs and then headed to the battlefield through town on Phys Ed’s bikes. It felt so good to ride a bike again, the breeze rushing past my face as I coasted through the streets of Gettysburg.
We spent the morning riding our bikes to different spots throughout the park. We started at The Angle and Copse of Trees, which was the high water mark of the war. That is, the farthest north that the Confederate Army advanced during the war. That occurred during the famous Pickett’s Charge across the vast open field. Then we rode to Plum Run, part of Death Valley as it was called during the battle because of the number of men who died there, others wounded and crying out in pain through the night. The Peach Orchard and Wheat Field were next, and then we rode up to Devil’s Den and Little Round Top. It was very interesting to learn about all of the different spots where the fighting was going on. I really didn’t know much about the Battle of Gettysburg until today, but after visiting so many key places, I now know a lot more than I ever did. On Little Round Top, we made sure that we visited the 20th Maine monument, which stands where Joshua Chamberlain defended the far left of the Union line. Needless to say, I could go on and on about the history that we experienced today, but it might take me hours to fill you in. In short, Gettysburg was amazing. I’m really glad that we had the chance to visit, thanks to Phys Ed! A day I will always remember.
Phys Ed drove us back to the trail after our bike tour and we started hiking around 3:00. Miles and I decided that despite our Gettysburg visit this morning, we still wanted to hike 18 miles. We hiked at a good pace all day, but not fast enough to finish before sunset. We were prepared to night hike and we ended up hiking with our headlamps for the last 4.5 miles or so. My headlamp isn’t really made for night-hiking, so it wasn’t as bright as I would have liked it to be, but it did the job. The best part about our night hike was the last mile as we hiked through an open field. The stars were shining and we had a clear view of the entire night sky. The air was cool as the fireflies sparked about. When we got to the road, we had no idea where to go. There was a lone white blaze across the road, but we found no others after walking in all directions. It’s a little more difficult to navigate when it’s dark. We finally found our way and arrived at the campsite where of course, everyone was sleeping. We set up our tent as quietly as possible and now we are ready to sleep. I don’t regret our decision to hike 18 miles this evening, because we were able to see so much this morning while in town. We’ll make sacrifices for historical sites on this hike. 🙂