Annapolis Rock, Maryland, April 1-2, 2016 — Spring has sprung loose the usual Pandora’s box that is the hiking public. The weather is improving and they are on the march. Time for the ridgerunners to ride again and help the challenged to do the right thing.
This year’s class is interesting. We were funded for six vs. five last year. The extra one goes to Shenandoah National Park where we’ll now have two veteran ridgerunners to cover 105 miles of the Appalachian Trail there. I’ll introduce or reintroduce everyone as they come aboard.
First things first. Maryland funds two ridgerunners because its 42 miles of trail is among the most heavily used anywhere. After all, millions of people who live in Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C. areas are within two hours travel time and easy access to relatively gentle hiking. The trail candy, e.g. the sites, vistas, civil war, and monuments, are attractive incentives.
Consequently the state wants a caretaker at Annapolis Rock (AR or the Rock) from April one through Oct. 31. All the rest, with one exception, work from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day – peak season so to speak. That exception launches in Shenandoah next week.
The easy access, gorgeous views, romantic sunsets, and excellent rock climbing, not to mention being named one of Washingtonian Magazine’s top 10 hikes, make the Rock a prize to to which people flock in droves. Three hundred people on a pleasant weekend day is not uncommon. Someone’s gotta help and guide them or the vegetation would be trampled and the trash would obscure the rocks.
Enter Kyle. He’s a jocular former Marine and 2014 AT thru hiker. He’s also a recent graduate of the National Park Service Park Ranger Academy.
Ridgerunning is not glamorous. First thing is moving into the rustic apartment provided by the Maryland Park Service. Then the AR overseeer helps you find the wood chips that help the two composing privies at the AR campground work. Taking care of poop by tending the privies is a big part of every ridgerunner’s job! That’s the ironic part of this dream job.
Q: Guess what the shovel’s for? A: It falls into the privies.
Next you have to put up the tent in which you or the summer ridgerunner will be sleeping in for the next several months.
It was fun trucking that stuff up the mountain – not. Thanks to Rush, the AR overseer for schlepping it up.
We got the rain tarp flying over the picnic table just before the rain hit. The rain was a nice complement to April Fool’s Day.
After the first band of showers, we went up on the rock to enjoy the scenery and that last “golden hour” of sunlight.
Overnight showers snare-drummed the fly of my hammock all night long. Me, I was hanging high and dry, my ears stuffed with ear phones listening to old “Lone Ranger” radio shows. Rain drops or hoof beats. I couldn’t tell.
They sky cleared this morning and it was time to haul up the first bail of wood chips for the privies. The first day in the glamorous life of a ridgerunner.
11 thoughts on “The Ridgerunners Ride Again!”
Welcome, Kyle! Looks like the AT in Maryland is in good hands.
It’s hard work. The dedicated ones will do the jobs.
There is no shortage of applicants.
Is the pool deep with qualified ones?
It’s a bell distribution. Generally speaking there’s no problem finding good people. I bend toward older, more mature candidates who want to do the job for the right reasons. The interview process is designed to weed out the romantics.
Thank you, Kyle! I pass by there several times in the summer so I will stop and say “hi” in person!
Looks like the area will be in good hands! just listened to some old radio shows last night !! Little Orson Wells and Fred Allen! Getting ready know for a little knee surgery tomorrow. Good times !
Good luck! When are you and your friend coming to Shenandoah this summer? I forgot to write it on my calendar.
Robin “Miss America” Hobbs will be our Summer Maryland ridgerunner. She starts Memorial Day.
We will be in the area June 6th – 17th. I will email you with more exact dates of where we will be on certain dates.