High school friends celebrate 50th winter hike | Nvdaily

Highschool associates have a good time fiftieth winter hike | Nvdaily

Strasburg resident John Chrisinger and his highschool buddies didn’t let somewhat factor like age cease them from their yearly winter hike.

The buddies, who graduated from Fairfax Excessive College in 1976, have organized a winter hike yearly since they have been sophomores. Just lately celebrating their fiftieth anniversary hike, they traveled from their varied properties up and down the East Coast to hike the Appalachian Path alongside Skyline Drive beginning in Sperryville and ending in Luray.

“We at all times do a winter hike,” mentioned Chrisinger, 65.

“It’s at all times a horrible expertise,” mentioned Curtis Clark, who lives close to the city of Shenandoah.

However that’s an enormous purpose why he mentioned it really works for them. They hike and fish at different occasions of the yr, too, however it’s the depth of the winter hike that unites so lots of them yr after yr.

“[It’s a] singular, struggling collectively factor,” mentioned Clark, who remembered his mother telling him, “You guys by no means endure sufficient, that’s why you go.”

In previous years they’ve hiked for wherever from two to 4 days, stopping at shelters alongside the way in which. This yr, they deliberate two five-mile hikes and stayed at Corbin and Lambert cabins in Shenandoah Nationwide Park earlier than assembly with a bigger group that included a few of their spouses to have a good time the event.

“There are six which have been hardcore,” Clark mentioned. “All of us do hobble alongside. You’re feeling such as you’re 14 till it’s important to get off the ground.”

The custom began with Clark and Brian Coughlan, who have been on Christmas break after they determined to spend their cash on provides for a backpacking journey alongside the Appalachian Path.

“We hitchhiked to the mall in Tysons,” mentioned Coughlan, of Wilmington, North Carolina.

There they every spent about $50 on climbing backpacks, which he recalled was an enormous amount of cash for 2 highschool youngsters.

“It was for me, a minimum of,” Coughlan mentioned. However they have been decided to go climbing, having no concept that it will develop into a yearly custom.

“It was all in regards to the gear,” Clark recalled. “The gear was simply mesmerizing. We winter camped due to the gear.”

It was additionally about timing, Coughlan mentioned.

“We did it within the winter as a result of we occurred to purchase our backpacks within the winter and we needed to attempt them out.”

After that, the group took on many extra members from their graduating class. Every year they begin planning in early fall, with a special good friend volunteering every time to plan the journey.

Different winter hikes have taken them to West Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Mount Whitney in California and even Mexico.

However the hike that Chrisinger, Clark and Coughlan all talked about as most memorable was after they have been climbing close to the Blue Ridge Parkway in about 44 inches of snow through the blizzard of 1996.

“It took us two days to stroll out eight miles,” Clark recalled.

“Blizzards kill due to immobility,” he mentioned. “You possibly can’t transfer. That was actually scary.”

They hadn’t realized how unhealthy it will be since, upon arriving at their shelter, there have been 3 to 4 inches on the bottom, Coughlan recalled.

After they awakened the following morning, there have been 18 inches.

“We have now a debate,” he mentioned. “Can we simply hunker down and keep right here or can we attempt to make it to the following shelter?”

Deciding to maneuver on, they headed for the Blue Ridge Parkway, pondering it will be clear, however it wasn’t.

“We realized we’re sort of in bother right here,” Coughlan mentioned. However looking for shelter below and overpass wouldn’t work both, with the deep snow blowing by way of, so that they saved on. Finally, they discovered a shelter with 4 partitions and broke in to attempt ready out the storm.

When the storm ended, they walked single file to interrupt by way of the snow, till they got here throughout a snow plow making its method up the mountain, after which they hiked into city.

“The Nationwide Guard was out on the lookout for us,” Coughlan mentioned.

Fortunately, they have been in a position to make it out safely, however Clark recalled that the strenuous hike alerted Chrisinger to a severe medical situation that induced issue respiratory.

After assembly along with his physician following the journey, Chrisinger was identified with most cancers in his lymph nodes.

“He would have by no means discovered that till it was too late,” Clark mentioned.

The lung most cancers prognosis was an enormous shock, mentioned Chrisinger’s spouse, Mary. For one factor, he was in any other case in wonderful well being.

“John has additionally by no means smoked a cigarette in his life,” she mentioned. That was a scary time, she recalled, however the yearly hike had offered “hidden blessings.”

Although the chums have slowed down in recent times, they don’t have any intention of quitting their yearly winter hike anytime quickly.

Mid-60s isn’t so outdated, Clark mentioned.

“We run into octogenarians,” he recalled.

Plus, he and his associates know what they’re doing.

Chrisinger, now retired from 30 years in legislation enforcement and 7 instructing felony justice at Battlefield Excessive College in Prince William County, mentioned he and his spouse do plenty of outside actions, together with kayaking and biking.

“We like to be outside greater than indoors,” he mentioned.

“We’re very very grateful to have this expertise of backpacking our entire lives,” mentioned Clark, a retired hospital administrator who used to stay in Maryland. “It’s the sort of calistentic train that basically does reward expertise.”

No matter life throws at them, mentioned Coughlan, {an electrical} engineer with a consulting firm, they’ve the one fixed annually.

“It’s such as you ask, ‘Are you going to have Christmas this yr?’” he mentioned. “I believe so long as we’re bodily succesful, we’ll stick with it.”

However the winter hike is greater than a enjoyable getaway with a difficult aim. It’s about celebrating 50 years of friendship.

“Once we inform this story to individuals, they are saying, ‘Wow, you stayed associates all this time?’” Coughlan, mentioned.

“Greater than something, it’s in regards to the friendship and the camaraderie,” he mentioned.

“Fifty years of friendships and 50 years of climbing propelled one another,” Clark agreed. “I believe we’re all extra happy with the friendships than we’re of the climbing. … If there was a exceptional story on this, it’s that.”

Author: ZeroToHero

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