Manly Camping Weekend was fun.
I was told there would be Arby’s.
We arrived at the Elizabeth Furnace “family campground” early in the afternoon on Friday. We set shit up, walked around a bit, then hung out at the campsite. Gregg made a fire with wood he brought from home, and some foraged (already fallen and dead) logs. At one point I mentioned I had a miniature saw on my Leatherman, and was resoundingly mocked. A bit later the miniature saw was needed, and I felt somewhat vindicated. We roasted some Nathan’s, and 30 beers were collectively consumed before bedtime.
Saturday morning after breakfast, we made a beer and ice run to a local “convenience” store. Due to our desire for a towering inferno later that night, we also picked up some extra firewood. On the way back, we stopped at the parking lot for the Signal Knob trailhead.
It was time for “The Hike”.
I was under the impression that we were going to do a 5-mile round-trip kinda’ thing. You know… a mostly flat trail wandering leisurely through the woods… shuffling through fallen pine needles… small birds landing on my shoulder as I petted Bambi with Thumper scurrying about under foot.
What I got was the Signal Knob Deathmarch: A 10.6 mile circuit featuring two trips up a mountain walking on a shitload of pointy rocks and scree. You have to understand that I’m a short, fat man who enjoys his cigarettes. Further, I’ve never travelled 10.6 miles by any means of conveyance other than an automobile.
Bitch & moan. Whatever. I did it, and you’re damn right if you think I’m proud of myself. I wasn’t necessarily having a great time navigating all that ankle-twisting, foot-stabbing loose rock after the first 6 miles (do not wear sneakers should you attempt the Deathmarch), but I completed the loop without becoming dangerously dehydrated, crippled, or branded a huge pussy (as far as I know).
We did the route colored red, starting from the parking lot, traveling in a counter-clockwise direction in the diagram. Note that the colors have nothing to do with the trail blazes involved.
A valuable tip: If Deathmarching, once you reach the Signal Knob overlook, DO NOT proceed down the fire road for 1.3 miles. The 0.8 mile ascent getting back up to the ridgeline (between the 2 black arrows) will likely snap your femurs in half. I had to use a clever contraption fashioned from duct tape, paper clips and black magic to keep my quads from spurting forth through my thighs during this ascent. Instead, you should double back and take the trail along the ridge (here it’s blue) until it meets the trail that’ll take you back to the parking lot.
After we returned to the campsite, Gregg cooked dinner. It ended up that we carb loaded AFTER the hike. Oh, well… who knew? Gregg built the aforementioned towering inferno, and we set to task in effort to kill more beers than the previous night. We failed. 26 dead soldiers. I blame exhaustion.
Sunday morning we packed up all our shit, and hit the road.
Would I do it all again? Definitely. Even the Deathmarch? Yeah… probably even that, but I’d train up to that shit. Fortunately, it was agreed upon that the next Manly Camping Weekend will feature floating down a river.
The Arby’s was a lie.