Appalachian Trail, Maryland and Shenandoah National Park, April 1 – 14, 2019 — Dawn cracked to reveal a chilly drizzle like the warmth a Sunday school teacher might project showing a little leg through clouds of petticoats. Right place. Wrong idea. Can’t see that much, so up the mountain we marched.
Mary is a veteran ridgerunner some readers will recall from last year’s blog entries about her service in Shenandoah. This season her Maryland tour is seven-months long. She will be reinforced by another ridgerunner from Memorial Day to Labor Day. She started on the auspicious First of April. No joke.
Sabine will be in Shenandoah National Park through early September. She arrived a tad early to observe and get to know Mary before launching her own long march toward autumn on her 102 miles of the AT she’ll be patrolling some 55 miles southward.
Earlier Mary had kicked down winter’s door, Hoovering up the off-season detritus like a caretaker opening a musty summer house long dormant. That’s bags of trash to the uninitiated.
On her first morning sweep of the Pine Knob shelter she found two backpacks apparently abandoned on the floor. No note. That’s more common than one may imagine. People get tired, wet, quit, and abandon their gear all the time. Regardless, they were available for animals to rummage. She decided to wait and see.
On her evening swing they were still there, so she packed them out tandem style to the Greenbriar State Park visitor center.
The knuckleheads called the park looking for them late in the evening. They’d been day hiking from the Pennsylvania border. Unfortunately the packs weren’t available til morning. Sorry guys.
Off we marched to begin patrolling the area between Annapolis Rock and the Pogo campsite. Trash picking was easy.
Pogo, where a tree fell atop one of the iconic fire pits.
Ridgerunning is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to find – tent poles, plastic container and a rubber band slingshot.
Painted rocks have become a trend in the hiking world. We found one at Black Rock that seems to advertise a lake front development in Maryland. There will be follow up with the developer.
Drying out. Caretaker tent graciously donated by REI.
Please pad your anchors and save the trees.
Somebody actually tried a bear hang instead of hooking their food bag on one of the tines. This method actually makes it much easier for the bear to get the food. 🙁
Sabine’s OJT at Annapolis Rock was complete. On to Shenandoah.
Shenandoah day one starts in the backcountry office for orientation, paperwork and equipment issue. Then it’s a hike to check the north boundary kiosk.
We made a side trip to hike the cult-like Piney Memorial Trail and paid our respects to the fallen. While there, the ridgerunner janitorial instinct kicked in.
The first overnight is at the luxurious Indian Run Maintenance Hut which is available to the ridgerunners when in the area.
First showdown with a hanging tangle. She drew her clippers faster than Gary Cooper in “High Noon” and cut that sucker down. Note the full trash bag.
Foundation of what was once intended to be a restroom for a “colored” picnic area that never was built.
Taking a break on a handy rock.
Second night at Gravel Spring. Not sure if the tree is apple, cherry or otherwise.
Sabine’s trail name is “Foureyes.” Not what you’d think for a hiker who’s done the Appalachian Trail, the Long Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail while in between earning a PhD in physics.
Some people come to the trail ignorant, thoughtless and unprepared. Yes, it’s what it appears to be. Digging cat holes to bury other people’s feces is one of the more unappealing aspects of the job. You have to want to protect the trail with all of your heart to do this work.
Third night at Pass Mountain. The tree blew down on a campsite before the camper was there. It was a dark and stormy night. Really!
Watching the hawks atop Mary’s Rock on a brilliant day.
Final night. Rock Spring.
Final day. Welcome to Jurassic Park. Come right in. Ummm, I mean Shenandoah National Park … May your hike toward autumn be a pleasant one.