I led this as a backpack for Trail Dames. I promoted it with “great views”…then blow the foghorn, folks! Three of us headed down the trail. We couldn’t see the trees fifty feet in front of us, let alone the expansive views from Stony Man cliffs, Pinnacle or Mary’s Rock!
Didn’t matter, Shenandoah is beautiful in any type of cloak she decides to wear. The foggy woods were magical. Mist floated through the upper branches of towering trees, then settled into the forest, softening hard edges and damping sounds. So very quiet on the trail as we stepped carefully to not slip on rocks glistening with moisture.
This is the first backpack I have led and was initially hesitant to put it on the MeetUp site. Only experienced backpackers for this one. In the future, I will think about leading a beginner backpack. But this one…no.
It was not an easy first day. Ten and a half miles, a few good climbs, then the long down from Mary’s Rock. I was ecstatic to walk into camp at Pass Mountain! The tent went up and all my gear set up for a comfy, warm sleep. Afterwards, I made a hot dinner and capped off with hot chocolate. Yes, that hit the spot!
It was getting dark by the time I finished. Headlamp on, I went to hang my Ursack on the bear pole. What a pain in the butt…I should have just walked out into the woods and tied it to a tree like usual. But I wanted to follow all of SNP’s back country camping rules, especially since warnings about the bears were on several trees as we hiked in. So in the dark, with my bag swaying precariously at the top of the rod, I tried to hook the loop to the top of the bear pole. Good Lord, that rod is unwieldy! Sway to the right, sway to the left, felt like I was doing the hokey pokey as I turned myself around! Hahahahaaa! Finally, it looped…sweeet! Into my tent, my fleece pants, my cozy shirt, and sleeping cap. The ibuprofen/Benadryl mix was doing its thing so I soon nodded off contentedly as the pit patter of misty drops fell onto my tent.
The weather was supposedly going to clear the next day. However, we got up in the fog, left Pass Mountain Hut in the fog, and for the remainder of our hike…we were in the fog! The second we were in shouting distance of Elkwallow…yep, it cleared! Enjoyed beautiful views on the way out of Shenandoah.
Here’s to wet tents, a dry pair of socks, and big smiles! Hike on!