Shenandoah National Park, VA, March 23 – 24, 2016 — Pancakes! I woke up hungry for pancakes. What’s wrong with that? I mean what do the real lumbersexuals of Washington eat – not the fake hipster ones, but the gals and guys who actually get out there and get after it?
What could pancakes possibly suggest? How about a work trip to the park. The hikers are coming and there are blowdowns to obliterate.
I called my district trail manager to find out what needed to be done. Then I emailed David Sylvester, my ever ready chainsaw companion, and we set the time and place. There’s more than enough fun to go around.
Sorry. I ate the pancake before it could eat Luray. No. There were no heroics – and apologies to Norman Greenbaum’s eggplant.
So, after carb loading, I test fired my saw, packed the car and stuffed my hammock in the side pocket of my pack and jumped on I-66 headed west.
First stop, Rileyville, Va. to pick up David. Believe me. It’s one of those towns that if you blink, you miss it. Not even a stop light. Next stop, the Luray Seven-Eleven to snag a sandwich for lunch; then on to the park’s Thornton Gap entrance where we were told work awaited.
We understood that there was a big blowdown about a mile up Pass Mountain. Pass Mountain is a pleasant jaunt, maybe the easiest mountain in the park’s entire repertoire. Well, as luck would have it, we marched and marched and marched. No down tree.
After searching for an hour we stopped at Pass Mountain Hut for lunch. Lugging 40 lbs. of chainsaw, safety gear, tools plus fuel and oil up and over mountains with a guy less than half your age is WORK!
I’m always fascinated by the trash we find along hiking trails. Who would leave a pair of serviceable army-style boots in the middle of nowhere? As always we found TP, aka Charmin flowers, everywhere. Women who don’t know better pee, then dry themselves and drop the paper. We get to police it up. Use a pee rag ladies, please – or pack out your paper.
Both days were gorgeous with temps into the mid-70s. Still, snow persisted in some northern shadows. Nevertheless, the bugs were abundant. That’s a bit unusual for this time of year. Obviously, the woodpeckers have been after them. They defaced a brilliant blaze I painted last year.
Next stop was Gravel Spring where a “giant” complex blowdown awaited bucking. Damn! Someone got there first. Probably a park crew. But, we did find another just a bit to the north. It took David longer to get his safety gear on than it did to demolish the obstruction.
Last we inspected a large obstruction the ranger at the Thorton Gap gate told us about. We decided to clear it in the morning. The day ended at Indian Run as many trips do.
A healthy daffodil crop surrounds the hut. We built a small fire and sipped a brew as a brilliant pearl of a moon peaked its nose over the horizon and tracked across the night sky. Excellent medicine. Doctors should prescribe it more often.
Our last project was mopping up this sucker at the junction of the Dickey Ridge and Snead Farm trails. These are popular trails that lead to an old apple farm where the foundation of an impressive house remains and the apple barn has been preserved for history.
First job is to attack the small stuff, then amputate the big guy on the end. Remove debris and the trail is ready for prime time once again.
Observation. Real lumbersexuals always wear red Kevlar pants!
Two days well spent. It’s spring break. Met a bunch of nice families out hiking.