10/17/2013 PenMar to Ensign Cowall Shelter (10 miles)
This was a tough 10 miles! No surprises there…lots of rocks and then there was the climb up Quirauk Mountain to High Rock. Boomerang, Google, V. and myself started off from PenMar at about 10:15. We trekked north about a quarter of a mile to the Mason-Dixon line first. I had hoped the sign had been replaced … but no such luck. We posed for the photo op anyway!
Headed back down to PenMar, then on to High Rock. I have climbed Quirauk Mountain (a massive rock pile) before, but never with a fully loaded pack! Holy crap! That took a while! But we did it, then took a well deserved break at High Rock.
After that it was smooth sailing for a while. The weather was pretty good and the leaves, oh, the leaves are turned for fall. The golden leaves gave the whole forest a warm ethereal glow that cannot be described! The kind of glow that makes your breathing lose its regular pattern until you remember to exhale … and when you do your whole body seems to float along with the autumn breeze that is rustling the trees. So incredible.
So down the trail I went one foot in front of the other taking myself out of the stress of work. We passed Raven Rock in no time and headed down the mountain to cross MD491 and make our first of two stream crossings. Along the way, we met the ridge runner Kite. He informed us of how many people were at the shelter and said he would be sleeping in the shelter that night.
The first stream crossing is nice with excellent sturdy dry rocks to step on as we hopped across! Then it was another climb, then down to cross Warner Gap and our second stream. It had started to rain. 😦 oh well…that is what it does! It wasn’t a hard rain and it wasn’t cold…plus, plus! 🙂 On went the big red poncho…I love that thing!
The rocks were slippery now and we all had to be very careful as we crossed this stream. There is a two plank wooden bridge for part of it, but water seeps out in several directions, and even though it is not deep it was treacherous at times. This slowed us down a little…but we plodded up another steep incline and headed for Rt.77. Seemed like forever before the open field just before the Rt. 77 crossing came into sight through the woods. I was so happy to see it!
The field/meadow was very beautiful with the grasses, goldenrods and other wildflowers lining the path. It was a lovely change from the damp woods.
We finally made our way to the Ensign Cowall Shelter and found that Kite was already there. It felt like we had been hiking all day…and Kite confirmed that by telling us we only had about 1/2 hour of light left. Yikes! We got going with making camp as fast as we could. Boomerang and V. headed for the spring to get water. Google and I decided we could filter in the morning and set about making our dinner. I ate as fast as I could as night was falling fast. I ended up eating my ramen, washing my dishes, brushing my teeth and hiding the bear vault with the aid of my headlamp!
Well now it was dark and Boomerang and V. had not returned. Kite was worried and went to look for them and thank goodness! They had only taken one headlamp with them and got a little turned around. They were glad Kite came to look for them! We thought “Lost&Found” might be a good trail name for V. 😉
It turned out all right and once back at the shelter Kite offered up some snickers!!! what a great ridge runner!!! 😀
Then the night turned beautiful and peaceful. The moon was out, the crickets were chirping and a light breeze was blowing…sublime. All that was missing was a glass of wine and Little Caesar!