Dick’s Dome Shelter, VA, AT mile 984.3, June 24, 2016 — My friend Denise texted me this morning that she was headed my way, leaving the trailhead at Hwy 522 Front Royal, VA. Her ETA at Dick’s Dome: 7 pm. She’s late, but that’s okay. I’ve been talking to the hikers and exploring the new “Whiskey Hollow” shelter under construction about 100 yards away.
My last visit to Dick’s Dome: Stink Bugs + Notebook Odds and Ends
Denise is my trail crew friend, now known by her trail name “The Optimistic Dictator,” OD for short. Readers will recall that I hiked with Denise in Georgia as she started: They’re Off I’ve also written about our adventures here: Let’s Go Hiking.
When she texted I was with the PATC ridgerunners finishing our monthly meeting.
This month we chose the PATC Highacre “cabin” in Harpers Ferry. It’s within 50 yards of Jefferson’s Rock if anyone cares to look it up. Regardless, nice view of the Potomac River.
The gathering includes a Thursday evening social followed by a Friday business meeting. These are hard working folks who patrol the trail, teach Leave No Trace outdoor ethics, act as ambassadors to the hiking community, clean up trash and privies, and patch up blisters and more serious injuries and afflictions.
We learned that the number of thru hiker reaching Harpers Ferry is up 18 percent over last year. We’re somewhat skeptical of this number’s legitimacy. Here’s why.
In recent years more and more hikers appear to be “yellow blazing.” That means they hitch rides ahead and don’t actually hike all the trail. For example, I saw hikers at the Hoodlum’s hiker feed who appeared in Harpers Ferry, 100 miles north the very next day when I was there. Hummmmm…… The younger generation is going to hell, and it always has!
Flash forward. With dusk on the horizon, I pulled up my WordPress app and began my thoughts. Just then OD rolled in. It was marvelous to see her now after wishing her well at mile 80. She’s nearly 1000 miles into her hike. That’s a big odometer number by foot.
We took up residence for the evening at the Whiskey Hollow shelter under construction. It’s going to be a nice one.
Our itinerary marched us through an Appalachian Trail section branded the “roller coaster.” It’s a series of steep pointless ups and downs, more of a toothache in the grand scheme of the 2,200 mile trek, than a serious challenge, but nevertheless… I’ve often said it’s like an outlet mall where Pennsylvania ships its surplus, worn out rocks, and the stones that don’t sell. This time it occurred to me that the roller coaster may also be where PA’s fugitive boulders go on the lam. That is to say there’s no shortage of miserable rocks on the roller coaster.
So, there I was. It was hot, humid and I was now hiking with someone sporting “trail legs.” Like a Philip Marlow client, the dame’s spandex oozed confidence and strength. Her glimmering smile stared down the roller coaster like Paul Bunyan making match sticks in the north woods. My role in this little meet up was to act as speed break.
This trip “slow-and-melting” was my middle name and I know Denise took great delight in having to stop and wait for me more than a couple of times. How do I know? She loved telling the story. Yea Denise!!!
We found what we thought was trail magic. Instead it was a refreshment station for a trail running group. They didn’t seem to mind that we helped ourselves to some of their cold Gatorade!
We took a selfie at the 1,000 mile mark (L) GA in March (R)
The official enshrinement in hiker history. This is a strong young woman.
Did I tell you that a bear tried to chew through Denise’s kevlar “bear proof” Ursack food bag in Shenandoah National Park? In this case, bro bruin chomped into a bottle of sriracha sauce. Hope this particular Yogi learned his lesson. That stuff is liquid bear spray.
Oh the adventures OD has had! Stay tuned…