We sort of left you hanging on our last post, just as we were preparing to climb our way up a couple of mountains into Aurora, West Virginia. Needless to say, pushing our way up two extremely steep mountain summits in one day was not exactly our idea of fun. But the only way to get to our destination was to climb, so that’s what we decided to do.
After a few miles feature hills of various size, we reached the base of our first hurdle (really tall hurdle, mind you), Laurel Mountain. After saying a prayer that God would provide us with the energy we needed to make it up the mountain, we set off. And even though we know how much God has provided for us on this journey, we were still slightly surprised at just how much energy He filled us with. Although it wasn’t easy, we made it all the way to the top of Laurel Mountain and said a prayer of thanks at the top.
After making our way downhill and traveling a few more miles, we were at the base of our next climb, Cheat Mountain. And we weren’t exactly excited. It was already getting late, and we still had seven miles to reach our destination, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Aurora. We started laboring up the 9% grade, stopping for rest breaks pretty consistently, but before we knew it, time had caught up to us. It was getting dark and we still had five total miles to go, and at least three of them were uphill. Realizing we weren’t going to arrive before 8:00 p.m., we decided to make a call to our contacts in Aurora, Dave and Fran. We asked if they might be willing to take our carts up ahead for us so we could walk without the weight of the carts. Much to our joy and gratitude, they said they’d be happy to do that.
After Dave and Fran rescued us we still had five miles to walk, but we knew we’d now be cruising without our carts. Well…as fast as you can cruise walking up a 9% grade. Within a couple of hours, we had reached the top, walked along the ridge to Aurora, and arrived at the church around 6:45 p.m. We walked into the parsonage behind the church, where we’d be staying for the night, and found a warm pellet stove blazing, an entire meal waiting for us along with an apple pie dessert and homemade cookies, and a large air mattress to sleep on for the night. We were almost overwhelmed with thankfulness.
After enjoying our meal and warming up by the fire, we were ready to sleep. A 21-mile day that included two large mountains and a few other small hills would be enough to wipe just about anybody out, and we were certainly done for the day. And thankfully, the folks at St. Paul’s offered to let us stay an extra day and night to recover from our exhaustion. We accepted the offer with gratitude.
The next morning we enjoyed a delicious breakfast with Fran and Dave, attended a church service at St. Paul’s, and had a chance to meet several people from the congregation as well, including Darla, who had been our original contact at St. Paul’s several days before. One of the congregation members, Cindy, offered to let us use her wi-fi hotspot, which was a bonus blessing, as we had quite a few internet things to do. Thanks to a lot of much-needed rest, our little Storming Jericho trio had a lovely Sunday afternoon. Then, around 4:00 p.m., Fran and Dave picked us up to take us around the area to see the beautiful sights up in the mountains. As we looked out over tree-covered mountaintops and soaked in the leaves with all of their different colors, we were reminded of the amazing, awe-inspiring things God has created on this earth. It is truly incredible. After driving for about an hour and a half, we were all ready to grab some dinner. Dave and Fran took us to an awesome lodge and we packed our stomachs full of food. After that, it was time to head home again and get sleep. Even though we had climbed up and over two gigantic mountains, we still had plenty of walking left to do in the mountains themselves.
The next day we made our way toward Mt. Storm, West Virginia. It was a nice walk. Even though there were some tough stretches, not having giant mountains to climb made it a little bit more comfortable. And thanks to the folks at the Methodist Church in Mt. Storm, we had a hotel to stay in when we arrived. We got to the hotel in pretty good time, got a good night of sleep, and were excited to keep on making progress toward Delaware.
Our next stop was New Creek, West Virginia, where Pastor Dan from the Rees Chapel United Methodist Church had offered to take care of us for the night. Although we thought we would be staying at the church that night, Pastor Dan informed us that they wanted to put us up at the nearby Keyser Inn, and we didn’t want to turn down that offer. After buying us some dinner and dropping us off at the hotel, Pastor Dan said goodnight and said he’d be back to pick us up and return us to the church in the morning. Needless to say, Linds, Jaeda, and I slept like rocks that night.
Morning came too soon, but we were still motivated to keep making progress, so we said thanks to Pastor Dan and his wife, Elaine, and set off down the road toward Romney, West Virginia. Our trip to Romney was another long one—22.5 miles, to be exact. Thankfully, Burlington was along the way to Romney, and we stopped in to grab some lunch at the Burlington Café. After sharing a little bit about our journey while we ate some incredibly tasty burgers, the folks at the café paid for our lunch, and we were extra thankful for that. It’s not every day you get a fantastic, juicy hamburger on the house. On top of that, a friendly couple named Dave and Mary Kay stopped to talk to us for a minute, and they gave us some freshly-made apple butter to take with us on the final stretch of our journey. And if you didn’t know, apple butter is delicious.
Anyway, after eating our meal and after pushing all day long, we were excited to run into Cindy and Darla from Aurora, who were kind enough to drop off Gatorades and candy bars for us on their way home from meetings farther east. It was a blessing to see them, and the Gatorades made it even better, because a 22.5 mile day makes you pretty thirsty. After that, we finally pulled into the church in Romney. Unfortunately, the pastor at Romney First United Methodist was unavailable, but Reverend Richard Hogg from Burlington had connected us with another church member named Sandy. Sandy and her husband, Paul, wanted to host us for the night, and we didn’t turn that down. So Sandy met us at the church, and one of the church elders, Ted, also happened to be waiting for us. Along with giving us some chocolate from a bunch of different countries, Ted showed us around the church a little bit, pointing out the history—mainly the gorgeous stained-glass window that was designed by a gentleman who had done work painting in the Sistine Chapel during his career—and then we said a prayer together and the Storming Jericho crew made its way to Sandy’s.
Once we were there, we had a fantastic meal with Sandy and her husband, Paul. We had a great conversation, and closed out the evening singing a bunch of classic Christian songs while Paul rocked out on his guitar. It was a unique and memorable evening, for sure.
The next day brought a cold front and rain, and an unfortunate pattern we’ve discovered with cold fronts and rain is that they tend to give Lindsie migraines. So when Lindsie woke up with her head throbbing and the rain falling outside, we knew we might be in trouble. Thankfully, Sandy and Paul are wonderful people, and they said it would be ok for us if we took a rest day at their house. Obviously, this was great news. Linds and I spent most of the day checking things off of our overdue-to-do list, and Lindsie also squeezed in a little bit of a nap as well. Then it was time for another tasty dinner, and before we knew it, it was time for bed again.
Traveling the next morning was going to be rough. And that was putting it mildly. Even though we were out of the “mountains,” we had a full day of walking with four major hills we had to go up and over. But, as usual, God came through in the clutch by blessing us with Ted. Using his truck, Ted drove us and our carts ahead of us to Capon Bridge, West Virginia, so we wouldn’t have to push both carts up and over those hills we weren’t looking forward to. After dropping off one of our carts with Pastor Chris (from Capon Bridge First United Methodist Church) and emptying out most of the other one, Ted brought us back to Romney and we said a goodbye prayer and picked up where we had left off walking a few days before.
The hills were much more manageable with one light cart, and we made incredible time to Capon Bridge. And even though we were definitely worn out when we arrived, we walked in to a delicious-smelling kitchen and some very comfortable chairs—as far as we’re concerned, that’s a fantastic combination. We had a great conversation with Pastor Chris, and after eating all kinds of good food and desserts, we took showers and called it a night. We had walked 22 miles with four hills, after all.
The next morning, Pastor Chris took up where Ted had left off, and offered to drive one of our carts to us a few miles down the road. The first 7 or 8 miles of our day would be spent walking with almost no shoulder, so he figured we could walk with one cart, and he’d drop off the second once we had a shoulder again. It was a perfect plan, and we were thankful he thought of it. We made great progress down the road, and once he dropped off the other cart and we said goodbye, we just kept on moving. That day we crossed from West Virginia into Virginia, and our first stop in Virginia was Winchester.
We had originally made plans with one church in town, but because of some events they had going on, the pastor referred us to a different church, Montague Avenue United Methodist Church. There, Pastor Andy and his wife, Regina, were waiting to welcome us inside. We should mention that Winchester is a very cool city, particularly the parts we walked through on our way to the church. Anyway, Pastor Andy and Regina wanted to take us out to eat, and we were ready to dive in when we heard the magic words—Golden Corral. When you’ve walked 20+ miles in a day, an endless buffet of food just seems to set the mouth to watering.
We loaded up on food, then headed back to their house for a quick shower. The whole night was extremely fun, but we were certainly wiped out by the end of it. We headed back to the church, set up for the night, and slept like rocks. Rocks that were very full of food.
The next morning we set out again, this time heading toward Upperville, Virginia, where Pastor John, one of the pastors at the ridiculously beautiful Trinity Episcopal Church in Upperville, was going to put us up for the night. The day was a little chilly and the sky got dark even earlier than usual thanks to the clouds, but we still made it in decent time and were thankful to arrive at our destination. As I mentioned before, the church was beautiful. The reason? The church was built to resemble a 12th century church complex, like something straight out of Robin Hood. So that was awesome. Also awesome was the well heated living area we were able to use for the night.
That night, John and his wife, Amanda, took us out to eat at a nearby restaurant, and we were joined by Ed and Margaret, and their two sons, Charles and Robbie. The food was delicious, and the conversation was even better. But after a very fun evening, Linds and I were ready for bed. We said goodnight, and woke up the next morning ready to go. Sort of. We thought we were ready to go. But after only seven miles, we knew the day was going to be more difficult than we were ready for. We called John and asked if his church might be willing to put up with us for one more night. Thankfully they were, and he was kind enough to come pick us up in the church van to bring us back. And after a full day of uneventful rest and a full night of sleep, John’s kindness continued the next morning when he dropped us back off where he’d picked us up the day before. We continued on, much better rested and much more prepared to tackle the open road.
Our next stop on the journey was South Riding, Virginia. We were blessed to have a contact there, Pastor Becky from Christ Church, who was flexible enough to deal with our constant changes in schedule. Unfortunately, she got sick the day before we arrived in South Riding, so we were never able to meet her in person. But she was still willing to let us spend the night in the church’s townhouse, which had a shower, a kitchen, a washer and dryer, a bed, and anything else we really could have hoped for as far as comforts go on a cross-country journey. In order to get there, we left our stuff at the church and got a ride to the townhouse from Zita, one of the congregation members who was nice enough to help us. After she showed us around, Zita headed home. In order to make us as comfortable as possible, Pastor Becky ordered a pizza for us for dinner. So we were full, clean, warm, and beyond content, which was a huge blessing.
The next morning, it was time for some chaos—heading into Washington, D.C. And even though we’re much, much farther along in our journey than this post gets to, we need to get something posted sooner than later. We’re almost finished with the walk overall to be honest, but you’ll have to endure the suspense until we can get the next post up. Hopefully the next post is ready soon!
Thanks again for the continued prayers and support. These last few weeks have been as challenging as any, and it’s the prayers and words of encouragement that have helped get us through. We are appreciative beyond explanation. God bless!
-Mike, Lindsie, and Jaeda