John and I really enjoy nature. Early on in dating we would go hiking since not only was it inexpensive, but it was a good way to get to know each other. It wasn’t expensive and the privacy of the trails allowed us to really open up to one another. As things got more serious, I wanted to introduce John to my favorite place to hike, the cascading trails throughout “Wild and Wonderful” West Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Autumn meant that all the trees would be flickering in burnt oranges, crimsons, and golds. It was also a great time for him to meet my college guy friends, a test in its own right.
John and my guy friends got on a little too well. We all had a few too many beers and when we woke up early the next day to drive the two and a half hours to Nelson Rocks, we were already looking forward to going to bed that night. Today’s “hike” was a bit more extreme than either one of us had done before. After I learned that a Via Ferrata−a climbing route using a steel cable to clip into−wasn’t far from my old college stomping grounds, I knew we had to go.
Nelson Rocks (an outdoor adventure company named after the rock formation they climb) suited us up with helmets and harnesses and then took us to the beginning of the course.
The vertical incline didn’t have any promising foot/hand holds, so steel grips were inserted into the mountainside. The entire climb doesn’t have these ladder-like bars, only the sections that absolutely demand it. Looking straight up at what we were about to do hungover, we had second thoughts. But of course there was a family in front of us with a young boy half our age. If he was going to do it, we had to.
After inching along, clinging to the cliff, we finally felt confident about completing the course.
That was until I saw the Indian Jones ladder we had to cross.
My small body could easily fall between each plank if I didn’t properly clip in my two carabiners. But this obstacle, we too accomplished. The only thing left to complete was a six hour drive back to our Pennsylvania home in time for John to get to work.