Henry’s Valley Forge

January 11, 2011 at 1:00 am 3 comments

A few years ago, my boss Larry and I were on a business trip in Pennsylvania with some extra time. We decided to stop by Valley Forge on our way to the airport. As we made our way to the National Park, Larry and I rambled on as we tend to do and we both talked about all the things we remembered about Valley Forge. When we arrived, we were dumbfounded at how consistently inaccurate our recollections were. For example, the men did not in fact leave Valley Forge to sail across the Delaware River to win the war.

But, one thing I DID remember correctly was the bloody footprints. During the winter to 1777-1778, the men were ill-clothed and if they had shoes, they weren’t up to the winter weather. Ice and snow were not kind to the soldier’s exposed feet. They cracked and bled and left souvenirs in the snow. In a letter to Congress, George Washington wrote, “marches might be tracked by the blood from their feet.”

The most treacherous part for the humans on our snowy Kelly’s Knob hike was our drive back down icy VA-601. For Henry, it was the snow itself. All seemed well at first. Henry was having a good ole time and was as happy as I was to be reunited with the Appalachian Trail.

Kelly's Knob - Henry the Trailblazer
Happy Henry

Then suddenly, history in action. We started to notice blood in the snow. The footprints got bloodier and bloodier. We didn’t have a Martha Washington on hand to knit some socks for Henry. But we did have a Ryan Somma. Henry soldiered on for as long as he could. Finally, he acquiesced and let Ryan carry him the rest of the way.

Kelly's Knob - Henry's Paws (Cropped)
Bloody footed Henry is carried down by Ryan

In a few days, Henry’s paws were as good as new.

At least, that’s how I recall it now.

Entry filed under: Appalachian Trail, Henry, Hiking, Kelly's Knob, Ryan Somma.

Kelly’s Knob in the Snow Blog Recommendation: The Year of Living Unofficially

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. geekhiker  |  January 11, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    Oh, man, that picture of Henry with the bloody paws is the saddest thing! Glad to hear the little guy is all better now.

  • 2. Kitty  |  January 11, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    Aww! Poor Henry! Good thing Ryan was there! I love your tie-in to Valley Forge, although I don’t love the reenacted bloody footprints! I’m glad you all made it back down in one piece, safe and sound.

    This snowy hike reminds me of a hike Garrett and I took long before we were married. We went on a lovely hike to Tinker’s Falls near Syracuse, NY (where Gare was going to graduate school, and where I was visiting him). We woke up early and excitedly packed up for a snowy hike, since there was snow on the ground already and we were sure the falls would be frozen and beautiful. We got to the trailhead and hiked the 1/2 mile or so to the Falls, which were indeed gorgeously frozen. We played around, exploring and climbing some frozen creations and the snow began to softly and lightly fall. We decided to hike all the way up (probably only 1-2 miles or so) to the peak, where there was a clearing where hang-gliders would take off. We had done this hike many times and knew it didn’t take long and the view was superb. This time, though, as we hiked up the trail, the snow started falling harder and heavier. We considered heading back, but we were so close we just figured we’d keep going. We got to the top and at this point the snow as coming down hard and of course we couldn’t see a THING. It was a complete white out. Crazy snow. We headed precariously back down, fortunately getting to the car without noticable frostbite or twisted ankles (although I did have ice crystals on my eyelashes that were REALLY cool, and Garrett’s beard was frozen solid, and our noses and cheeks were purple–oops). We got in the car and started it up, turned on the radio and what did we hear? “There’s a blizzard warning until blah blah blah. Stay off the roads and stay inside if you can! Tons of snow, coming fast…” etc. etc. The drive home was treacherous but we went realllllly slowly, laughing the whole time that we unknowingly went hiking in a blizzard, since we didn’t have a TV and neither of us thought to check the weather online before heading out for our hike. Isn’t snowy hiking fun?! This makes me want to go on another winter expedition!!

    Thanks for posting!

  • 3. Carolyn  |  January 12, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    awww, poor Henry!!!!! That’s so sad. He looked so happy in the happy pic, and he looks so defeated in the bloody feet pic. Poor little guy. I’m glad he healed up though. He probably forgot the whole incident by now.


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