10/18/2013 Ensign Cowall Shelter to Pine Knob Shelter
It rained off and on all night! So happy I was in the shelter as I kept hearing acorns and small limbs hit the roof of the shelter. The front that had moved in left us with a chilly, damp morning. This was the kind of morning that makes you wish you could just stay in the sleeping bag and forget about hiking for a while…at least until the sun comes up over the mountain. But I bit the bullet. I literally jumped out of my sleeping bag and headed down to the privy still half asleep, no glasses on, and almost tripped on the rocks! GOOD morning! 🙂
We took our time leaving the shelter since we only had 8 miles to go. We let everyone else at the shelter get packed up and leave while we ate breakfast. It was sweet to be able to take our time. My fingers were cold and didn’t want to be used to pack gear right away. So I dug my luxury item out of the bear vault…hot chocolate…oh man, it was just the thing for this chilly morning!
After breakfast and filtering water we headed down the trail to cross Wolfsville Road and head up to the ridge on the other side. It was now about 9:15 AM and the sun was just beginning to make a weak appearance over the ridge of the mountain. Didn’t matter…that climb warmed us up plenty without the sun! Way to kick my butt awake on this chilly morning!
After reaching the ridge, the walking was easy for awhile. A nice flat, wide trail with very few rocks. The sun pushed through the leaves of red and gold making for a beautiful autumn morning. I truly enjoyed that whole twenty minutes before we hit the rocks in force again!!! 😉
And boy, was there a lot of rocks…jumble, jumble, jumble. Had to pick my way along, staying focused so I wouldn’t turn an ankle or slip. It seemed to take forever to reach the end of the scrambling part of this section. When I caught sight of the old Black Rock Hotel site, I could not have been more relieved. This is where Pogo campground and the trail head to the Thurston Griggs trail is located. Anyway, it is a wonderful place to take a break after those darn rocks! While we were there several day hikers came by with their dogs! I really enjoyed seeing the dogs as I was missing my Sidekick Pauli!
Leaving Pogo campground we crossed a very dry Black Rock creek, then began our climb up to Black Rock Cliffs. The more popular stop along this stretch of trail is Annapolis Rocks…but I will tell you … having hiked this section many times that the view is better at Black Rock Cliffs (and they are closer to the trail). We went out to the cliffs but did not stay long since the wind had picked up and it was quite brisk. However, before we left I about gave the other dames a heart attack (or so says Boomerang) as I walked out pretty close to the edge of the cliff! I explained to them it was not that scary, I mean, I am pretty susceptible to vertigo and I didn’t feel anything…but they weren’t buying it!
It wasn’t long now before we reached Pine Knob shelter…the “party shelter” as it is locally known. It was Friday night and I was prepared for the worst. But holy cow! We had the shelter to ourselves!!! Crazy! We got to the shelter in plenty of time to relax & talk. My multitasking bear vault was used to collect water for Google and I to filter so that was one less trip to the spring we had to make. Nice!
We made dinner and were in our bags by 6:30 PM and asleep at about 7 PM Ha ha! Great day on the mountain! 🙂 🙂