Garvey Shelter Vandalized

CF0257E6-E20B-4ED5-AB18-BD6D7669D881_1_201_a

The Appalachian Trail, February 28, 2021 —  Unfortunately everything that happens on the Appalachian Trail is not positive.  This is one of those stories.

Earlier this month a member of the Trail Dames hiking group planned a stop at the Ed Garvey shelter in southern Maryland.  In fact, it’s the first shelter in Maryland, just 6.3 miles north of Harpers Ferry, WV.  It is a popular spot frequented by local campers as well as long distance hikers/backpackers on the AT.

She was shocked by what she found.

AC811EEC-96A3-4A9C-8B4A-59FFDAB9B2E9_4_5005_c

Someone had built a fire on the shelter’s lower sleeping deck.

B53DB833-8C4A-4679-A691-624733397350_4_5005_c

The fire burned through the deck doing considerable damage.  It was only thanks to luck that the shelter itself did not burn down.

43750235-89F7-4319-A700-B5C88A8654DD

It’s possible that who ever built the fire also strung this tarp across the opening.  In some ways this is senseless.  There’s a very sheltered sleeping area on the upper level.

F5F8BCBA-8BF7-4C0F-B40B-6EAD2D8117F5_4_5005_c

She also found other detritus.

In addition to the damage to and evidence in the shelter, someone broke into the tool storage and took a couple of minor items.  Not much is ever stored near shelters for this reason.

What happened?  Was this caused by inexperienced people in competition for a Darwin Award?  Could it have been pure vandalism?  Could the damage have been caused by someone who is homeless?

The latter is most probable given the theft and the placement of the fire.  Many homeless suffer from mental illness or from drug/alcohol addiction.  They occupy shelters, intending to stay awhile, and tend to leave at least some of their belongings behind.  We may never know for sure.

The good news is that the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club maintainers in Maryland had the damage repaired within a couple of days after its discovery.

Edward B. Garvey is the shelter’s namesake.  More on Mr. Garvey at this link.

Sisu Continue reading

Tonic for the Pandemic

The Lashley Lounge

Falls Church, Virginia, Saturday, February 13, 2021 — Pandemic fatigue is real.  People are tired, frustrated and fed up with lockdowns, restrictions, inconvenience, anxiety, and fear.  This is not to mention the more than 460,000 dead, the economic deprivation,  and the devastation of the Main Street economy.    This blog is apolitical so we’ll not go there.  Suffice it to say that everyone is doing the best they can. 

Our Gang of Four hiking group is a subset of a larger group of friends who have been coping in our own way.  Each of us has a connection to the Washington, D.C. journalism community.  Two are academics, I’m a former spokesman for the National Security Council, and the rest are covering or have covered our national government at the highest levels.  In most cases our various connections go back at least 25 years and run through the White House and/or Capitol Hill. 

The next thing I’d mention how good we look after all that time.  Masks are the new facelift.

We’ve been gathering at social distance on Saturdays for months.  Tina invited us to meet at her house on summer evenings on a large patio, around a gas fire pit, under a string of lights.  She moved the start time to mid-afternoon with the arrival of winter.  In that way we collect all the warmth the day has to offer.  With the change, the main event ends at the hour the when the sun-splashed winter daylight becomes frozen winter darkness.  The hard core can brave the night with a flicker of light from the fire pit.

Today is Saturday but we’re not gathered at the Lashley Lounge.  We’re in the middle of a bleeping ice storm.  We may be crazy but we’re not braving the beltway in this weather.  So let’s cheer up by rerunning last Saturday’s festivities.

It was Kia’s birthday!  

4F521EDA-5DAC-4842-A225-2B92903E1DDB_1_201_a

We divided up the menu pot luck.  The delights included baked ziti, Chianti classico, brochette and an awesome cake.  Long johns are the new unmentionables.

25393978-C590-499C-A66A-174B439414EF_1_201_a

Blowing out the candles COVID style by waving a paper plate. Singing “Happy Birthday” muffled the flapping.

Of course no gathering in complete without Tilly the dog. She’s a pup with the energy of an unguided missile crossed with an Olympic mud wrestler. You can probably guess where this is going.

A patch of mud does not exist that Tilly can’t find.  That’s the point.  This is a place where folks can safely let their hair down among friends, talk Washington inside baseball and blow off a little steam. 

We laugh, we vent and we cheer each other up.  Where there is a will, there is a way to do it safely in a pandemic.  Wearing home a boatload of dirty laundry is an affordable tonic these days.

Sisu