Someone originated the good idea of hiking to celebrate the New Year. In Pennsylvania or regions that have a winter that’s not always easy to do. But this January 1 the weather was cold but clear, and I was full of energy. And to make the trip more fun, I invited my new friend Chris to join me. Since I had limited knowledge of his hiking experience I chose a short excursion. And since I had limited confidence in my abilities at this point in my recovery I stuck with something I’d hiked before.

Our destination was Mount Misery in Valley Forge National Historical Park. The grandly and ominously named hill is across Route 23 from General Washington’s Headquarters. We decided to start our hike at noon. Since parking was limited at the trailhead Chris parked at the Visitor’s Center and we drove over in my car.

We started at the far side of Mount Misery, near the Knox Covered Bridge. Despite having done the climb a half-dozen times before, I found the effort tiring, but not as tiring as Chris did. Lugging 430 pounds up a hillside is work, and we had to stop twice to let the big guy rest. That gave us a chance to wish “Good afternoon” and “Happy New Year” to the stream of people climbing the hill. It was encouraging to see so many people out enjoying the day, and enjoying it with their children and dogs.

The trails on Mount Misery are typical ‘Rocksylvania’ – I struggled at times on them. Chris, who was a Boy Scout as a youth, regressed to childhood and didn’t let the rocks bother him. Once he was done with the climbing portion he was a chatterbox, talking about anything and everything. When we reached the abandoned spring house he explored it, squeezing into narrow spaces like a ten year old.

It was just past the spring house I came to grief. I had trouble getting down one stretch of trail with a steep grade and I turned my right ankle. Once we got to the benches at the bottom of the hill I sat down and took off my shoe. There was no swelling, but enough pain that I limped through the rest of the hike. Fortunately, we were now on the flat Valley Creek Trail, and what started as a hike ended as a walk. We took breaks often, this time for my comfort rather than Chris’. But as always, stopping is a reason to use a camera.

Before we realized it we were at the Knox Covered Bridge and our hike was at an end. We were cold, tired, and in my case limping, but we had a great time. It was over dinner after the hike that Chris and I realized we hit it off when we hike and ride together. And so a friendship was formed, with a three mile hike on Misery.