I will remember this day as hiking through the sky with Dames, then descending into the valley with Angels.
Before all of this, however, was donuts. Tenacious D was driving and I had hitched a ride to the trail head since my car is no longer to be trusted on long trips. I felt very grateful to have a ride down to Virginia for this section hike and stopped at Dunkin Donuts on my way to meet Tenacious D for coffee and donuts as a token of appreciation for the ride.
Wow, it was raining. and cold. and windy. Glad I put gloves and hat in the back pack before I left!
We were the last to arrive at the trail head…Tenacious D says being a bus driver for so many years makes her just drive slow all the time! I didn’t mind, we weren’t more than 3 – 4 minutes late, and the drive had been lovely. We pulled over and rolled down the window as Dirigo (the hike leader today) approached. She asked “Can you all help shuttle?” “Sure!” Another Dame jumped in and away we went up into Shenandoah National Park.
We met up with everyone at Compton Gap trail head, about 10 miles into the park. Donning our layers, rain jackets, hats, gloves, and grabbing our hiking poles we set off into the foggy woods. Pretty easy walking, although it began to rain making me wish I hadn’t left my big red poncho back in my car before riding down with Tenacious D. Oh well, my rain jacket, plus layers did a fine job anyway!
The forest was magical with the heavy fog. Lines between heaven and earth were smudged giving everything a soft ethereal glow. It felt like we were part of the sky. Then my eye would catch a tree with its brilliantly colored leaves in the forest reminding me that the sky had descended on the mountain, we had not risen to the sky.
We reached Possum’s Rest, which on a clear day has a beautiful view, without much trouble. Today, all one could see was the fog. Coming down from Possum’s Rest was a little tricky! We were climbing down from the ridge and it was a sharp decline, even with the switchbacks, littered with wet leaves and rocks. It was slow going…but no one fell, no one slipped!
Just before reaching the Tom Floyd Wayside, we heard barking. Lake Front Royal is a neighborhood which backs up to the AT, so the dog was probably over there. Happy to get out of the rain we sat down for lunch at the shelter. A PB&J and half a bag of cheezits later I was feeling quite content. I stretched out my legs and sat there looking out into the mist.
There is was…that barking again…louder this time. We discussed where the dog could be, then brushed it aside as we packed up and left the shelter. Headed downhill, then all of the sudden there it was, a small older beagle, lost, cold, wet, shivering, and very scared. She came right up to me. It was clear she needed help. At first we got her to follow us, but soon realized she needed to be carried as her paws were rubbed raw. I carried her for awhile,
then Python cleared out her backpack and together we fit her inside. She loved that! So cozy! And that is how Python packed her out. As we continued towards Rt. 522 we passed directly by a few houses in Lake Front Royal. Python asked a guy out on his deck if he knew anyone who had lost a beagle. He didn’t but turned to get his wife. Turns out the wife works in a vet clinic and offered to take the dog so they could follow up on the license number and scan for a microchip.
So you see, the Dames had become Angels arriving at just the right time and place for this lucky little pup. I am ever so happy she spent the night inside, safe and warm.