Annapolis Rock, MD October 24, 2020 — Each year has a melody and closing down the caretaker site at Annapolis Rock is its final note. It’s a whisper, not a crescendo. We quietly strike the tent, fold up the tarps and secure the tool box. Then we walk the packboards stage right, down the mountain into winter storage at Washington Monument State Park. The concert has ended.
What comes next, the budget planning, equipment ordering and hiring process, doesn’t count because they are muffled in winter snow and darkness.
The first thing we do is inspect the equipment looking for what can be repaired and what needs replacing.
We string a tarp over the tent to reduce sun damage. Somehow the rays manage to bleach, breakdown and fade tents and tarps.
This tent is on its last legs. We might get another year out of it – maybe. In the past REI has been gracious enough to donate tents. Here’s hoping their generosity continues.
The tool box is secured. We leave nothing worth stealing but you never know.
Everything is packed out. The tarps are worn out and get recycled. The sun-damaged polyester rope goes into the dumpster.
It’s a sad ritual that closes out April’s hopes and aspirations. We shake hands, the ridgerunner submits their final report and the switch flips. Just as the leaves turn in the forest, it’s time for our ridgerunner to turn the page to a new chapter. Their brake lights flash at the last stop sign and they are gone.
The tent platform and picnic table stand sentinal through the lonely winter until the new ridgerunner brings them new hopes and aspirations on April 1.