When all was said and done, we had just a few backpackers to start the GET, Headwaters Section. Basically, the plan over several sections is to hike from where the GET leaves the Tuscarora Trail south till where it joins the Allegheny Trail--about 165 miles.
With the weather turning cold, we had just myself, Jen, Severin, and Alex. We met up at Vienna and took just my car and hers. I was concerned about how long we'd have to go without water, especially in subfreezing temps, so we drove my car up to where the trail from Tibbet Knob joins 691 on Devils Hole Mountain. A white truck was idling there. We left some water in the car, as well as my white gas stove. I figured if our water froze, having a powerful stove would help.
We started up FR 92 to the trailhead I wanted to use at Little Stony Creek. Road closed. Well, time for plan G. We drove around to the trailhead for the Halfmoon Trail, and camped along the creek there. It got below freezing that night, but it was really in the morning that temps fell. We started by climbing the Halfmoon Trail to Tuscarora (so here is where the GET starts), then Tuscarora to Mill Mountain. We tanked up at Sandy Springs, and would spend the rest of the day trying to keep the 4-5L we were carrying from freezing. But we made excellent time, passing Big Schloss and arriving at Wolf Gap by 11:30am. Over Tibbett Knob we went. It was quite cold and breezy. We got to my car just after 1pm.
Then we juggled cars. Taking mine to get Jen's, then leaving mine at Tomahawk and returning to Tibbett Knob. Still, the white truck was idling. We were on our way at 3:30pm, but we had fresh, unfrozen water. Nevertheless, we had lost a few good hours of hiking.
We completed the road walk and turned south on the GET, North Mountain Trail. This was new terrain for me. We didn't go far before we stopped at a fire ring and a site that offered us shelter from the wind. Whisky, fire and bedtime. The wind fell off during the night, but it did get quite cold. In the teens, we think.
Up at 6am, we blasted over the easy walking on the GET, which is a big beautiful ridge walk, with a number of nice views and even some semi-open ground. It is amazing that more DC hikers don't talk about this stretch of trail. The cold motivated us to hike faster. We passed the tower and the road where the other DC UL trip had cached. We passed the Orkney Springs Trail, where there is a confusing bit of signage (right, not left) and staggered on to Hunkerson Gap. Then, we turned left and descended on Blue Blazes, reaching the car at about 2pm.
We reversed the shuttle. The truck was at last gone. And then we headed off to celebrate at Jaliscos, which was excellent.
So that's about 34 miles of backpacking, much of it on the GET. Congratulations to Severin and Alex for earning their veteran member status! I'm looking forward to more GET hiking, as this was a promising start. And a last blast for winter backpacking!
PS This was a little too long for an LM trip. Who plans these things anyway?