Before the pandemic, I would organize an annual winter backpacking trip for the Maryland Trail Dames. We would hike to the Ed Garvey Shelter on the Appalachian Trail, set up camp, then continue to Weverton the next day.
After missing out on this fun event for two years, I was delighted to put this up on the hiking board for January 2022. The Dames were excited to shiver together once again! 😄
But bad weather intervened…fast forward to an early Spring shiver, instead! I was secretly pleased to not be camping out in January. It was 17 degrees one year and even with good layers it was still cold! Especially when nature’s calls at 2:00 AM! 🥶
This weekend we had delightful weather…praise!!! We met at Gathland State Park around noon. I know, I know…I was really taking a gamble with parking at that time of day. I crossed my fingers and went with it. Happy to report we all found a parking space. I was grateful!
It was a lovely hike to the shelter. We had a few newbies with us, but I only got asked once “do you know how much further until we get to the shelter?” I call that a win!
We were surprised there were already several folks at the shelter when we arrived. And with complete disregard for hiker etiquette, they had put up tents on both the first and second level of the shelter. Ergh. We were tenting and had no need of the shelter. However, that whole tent in the shelter is a big no…especially at a shelter like Ed Garvey, which is pretty popular all year round.
Sure enough, it was a mob scene on Saturday night. I am glad we had gotten there early enough to pick the better tent sites. Some folks camped down along the trail as all sites were gone when they rolled in later in the evening.
***better = still slanted, but I managed to stay on my sleeping pad all night***
About 4:00 AM we got rain, just on and off, nothing much. It continued while we packed up and hiked out. Just a few drops, not enough to make us or our gear wet. Thankful is an understatement. Some of our newbies had gotten cold overnight…rain on top of that could have made an uncomfortable hike into a truly miserable one for them. 😕
It was great to get back to backpacking with the Dames. Looking forward to planning more fun adventures for this group! Hike on!
As I start this post the Beatles song “with a little help from my friends” is rolling inside my head. This year, more than any before, I am appreciating friendship. The people in my life who I look forward to being with, laughing with, and sharing with. Each inspires me in little ways that enrich my moments spent plodding through life. And plod I do!
So, this is an appreciation post for all the people who are still hanging with me here in the Spring of 2022.
OF course I need to include my partner here. But she is a private person…so I won’t say much except that life would not be as fun without her. She is also a teacher and there is no one else who gets my shizzle like she does. She also swings a mean hammer and paint brush. House renovations would go much slower and be a LOT more expensive without her mechanical prowess! ❤ ❤ ❤
No particular order of importance…but I need to put D in Damascus in here because this post would not be happening without her. Over the last few years, she has become a wonderful photographer and decided to start her own blog to showcase her photos. She has no idea how this has inspired me to get back to writing…but here we are! D is also my go-to colleague at work when everything feels like it is falling apart, so that is a bonus! I post one of her lovely photos here … so please ooooo and ahhhhhh over it for at least thirty seconds! 🙂
And then there are my Dames…what would I do without my hiking gals?
Queen V brings her jokes, her exasperation with hills, and keeps me in stitches on every hike I take with her. She is a treasure. I can text her “hey, I found an unmarked trail …want to check it out?” and she ALWAYS says yes. She almost always bitches about it while we bushwhack through some unforeseen truly terrible trail…but she shows up and has fun…I think. Anyway, she also has just the right advice when it is needed. Level headed, she kindly points out all sides of an issue while I rant…and rant…until I manage to slow down enough hear her. Then I’m like “yeah, that makes sense…” The perfect friend to take hiking down the trails! 😀
There are so many good people in my hiking life…I certainly could not list them all. I wish I could, but it would take many lifetimes to do so. And so many I have not yet had the opportunity to reconnect with in 2022.
A few more photos that have frozen an amazing moment in time for me. Moments filled with pure joy shared with friends on the trail. Oh, how I look forward to getting back to regular hiking life this year! Hike on! 🙂
Well…this was a post COVID shutdown shock to my system! 😀
After driving down for a little over three hours from Frederick, MD, and another two hours placing cars, we hit the trail while the hot afternoon sun beat down on us. The parking lot at VA501 was easy to find and I was happy to exit the hot pavement and enter the just as hot, but at least shady, woods!
Day 1 we hiked in to the Johns Hollow Shelter. Blessed with a fine running stream, I took a good amount of time refreshing myself before cooking dinner. The shelter is in a delightful location with several almost level places to put a tent. Except, of course, for the place I put mine! But I was exhausted and fell asleep quickly.
As usual, I awoke a few hours later after darkness had closed in on the forest. Since morning would not wait for certain things, I finally, after debating for at least 20 minutes, had to commit to getting out of my tent.
Okay, okay…I’m up, I’m out…oh, wow, it is really, really dark.
I made my way across to the privy and happened to look up. There was a perfect crescent moon shining down. It was framed by the upper most branches and leaves of several trees…perfectly timed…well done Mother Nature!
Once back in my tent, I could not fall back to sleep and tossed, turned, and created a ton of noise from my sleeping pad which has not become less noisy with wear FYI. Finally getting into a somewhat decent position I started to doze off. It must have been early…like 2 am…a yip, then a yowl, then a whole orchestrated sonata sung by a local coyote group. Beautiful!
I know you will find this surprising, but I did not wake up refreshed and ready for a 9 mile day.
Day 2 was an up, up, up day. We climbed about 2000 feet up. It was our first climb and we got up while the sun was still low in the sky and breezes were frequent. With proper breaks here and there we made it to the top without any terrible memories burning in my memory. A beautiful view awaited us!
We stopped at Salt Log Gap for a sit-down break. I got just two things to say…1. Someone said there was a spring. If that is true it is so far downhill that you’d be nuts to go looking for it. 2. Careful of the stinging nettles, but if you do get swiped try hand sanitizer on it. That worked wonders on the areas where I was attacked!
The second mountain of the day…ugh. Bluff Mountain is no bluff! The trail went up the sunny side of the mountain and it was a hot afternoon sun. Several thousand breaks later we rounded a corner to find the memorial for Ottie Cline Powell, an almost 5-year old boy who wandered away from his school in November 1890, got lost, then died on Bluff Mountain. His remains were found by a hunter in April 1891. This choked me up and I cannot get this kid out of my head even now. Poor, poor baby. 😦
I was so glad to get to the Punchbowl Shelter. Such a pretty sight with a pond filled with chatty bullfrogs. 🙂 I went about setting up my tent, minding my own business, when the black flies descended. Oh my gawd, this was awful. Like on level with chiggers awful. I got so many bites. 😦 Bug spray didn’t phase those little suckers one bit. I capped off Day 2 with three ibuprofen and a benadryl.
We TRIED to get out earlier on day 3 so we were done hiking earlier due to the heat. A group of five…we did try! And maybe we were out a little earlier??? Anyway, the day’s elevation looked decent and I was optimistically promoting a day that would allow our fired up muscles a day to recover somewhat. Hahahaaaaa 😀
The elevation wasn’t bad in comparison, but it still managed to get at me. The heat and humidity was suffocating and I could smell rain. Picking up speed around the Lynchburg Reservoir, yessss! This was good, this was easy!
Rounded a corner…Oh for Christ’s sake. What horse of the Apocalypse are we on now?
A monumental disaster of epic proportions lay before us. A tangle of huge blowdowns over a ravine. Every woman for herself! I decided to crawl under and through it dragging my pack behind me. It worked!
Feeling superior, I temporarily forgot that this was a miserable hike and plodded on down the trail happily the victor. 😀 There was even an congratulatory creek with rushing cool water about a mile after. Huzzah!
The day got long again and my feet were screaming with every step once we reached the bridge across Brown Mountain Creek near the shelter. I wasn’t the only one having physical turmoil and we were glad to be done for the day.
The Brown Mountain Creek area is fabulously wild and gorgeous. In the early 1900s, a community of African American sharecroppers lived here. I looked and found evidence of homes long since abandoned. I am surprised and disappointed that there is no roadside history sign about this community at VA60. I went Googling for information once I got home and found “Brown Mountain Creek – Before the AT”.
I settled in for the night, best sleep on the whole trip under a big old oak tree. I had some quite disturbing lucid dreams about little Ottie. I woke up suddenly during one of those dreams to a lightning bug blinking his light as he passed my tent…a good sign. I got up and looked out ….ohhhhhhh…*sharp inhale*…the lightning bugs! I was mesmerized, and after the dreams I had, a little emotional.
The last day was a short hike out to VA60. Sitting in my tent, early in the morning, while the lightning bugs were still blinking, I wrote:
“I am humbled by these mountains. Blisters on my heels burn with every step. Black fly bites have formed hard spherical mounds that itch like the dickens. Stinging nettles brushed my legs with a touch that was anything but gentle. My COVID shutdown body is tired and demoralized. Another day my mountains.”
Now healing, beer in hand, and looking forward to another day…Hike on!
Backpacking with my gal pals last weekend! How is it to know these women, these outrageous trail bitches who understand this is not a frivolous hobby? We understand each other in a deep way even our life partners don’t get. We see the desire burning in each other’s heart for the outdoors, for the forest, for walking in and not having to walk out right away. Hiking and backpacking is something we do because it is what makes us whole! and it is what makes us reasonable human beings in all the other areas of our lives.
With that in mind, we all piled into Akela’s minivan, WHICH HOLDS ALL SEVEN OF US AND OUR GEAR!! Headed south to Dripping Rock, one of us has forgotten her cell phone…turn around, back to Rockfish Gap…OKAY, now we headed for Dripping Rock … for real! 😀
A sunny, but very chilly morning, at 20 degrees! Thankfully, climbing first thing. It is a lovely stretch of trail up the mountain. Some of us hike a little faster, some a little slower, … all of us hike with optimism, smiles, and support for one another.
The views at the top were amazing, of course! We stopped for lunch at the highest point of our hike. A nice break on the sun splashed rocks until the sun went on hiatus and the wind decided to pick up and play chicken with us. Okay, okay, we are going, seriously! Gloves and hats back on! Ladies, someone has an issue with letting us soak in the sun!
We felt good as we started down towards Paul C. Wolfe Shelter. Golden leaves covered our path in spots as we hiked one way, then the next, zigzagging down the mountain on a kazillion switchbacks. A big nice trail for the most part!
It was a great day filled late Autumn forest magic. A gust of wind showered us with leaves, a beam of sunlight warmed us for a few minutes, a deer silently sneaked a peek at us, and birds called out to each other as we passed. I arrived at the shelter free of all regular life stuff. No place but here, no time but now.
I got my tent up and had dinner as the forest went dark. The moon was almost full giving me all the happy vibes. 🙂
A couple of dads and their sons were camped at the shelter. “NO worries about bears tonight”, I thought, as those boys ran up and down each side of the creek having the time of their lives.
I crawled into my tent, broke open some ‘hothands’ to warm up my tootsies and my sleeping bag, then fell promptly to sleep…at 7:00 pm. Woohoo! Hiker midnight!
Morning now nigh…Dang, it is always a tough time getting out of the bag on a cold morning!! Deep breath and up I was. Packing up warms you up, so move, move, move! And, oh crap, I have to filter water…oh, but what a nice view I had!!
Hot oatmeal warmed my insides and coffee made me a little more coherent, then it was down the trail we went. It was much warmer on Sunday morning and with temps climbing we were soon plenty warm. The trail had some disaster blow downs which gave us an aerobic edge to our hike. We were shedding layers like crazy! “Lost&Found” had to do an extensive striptease on the trail since she needed to get her long johns off…if that would have been me, I know a fricken entire boy scout group would have appeared! Luckily, she got it done without any such embarrassment!
We spent several minutes at the Lowe cemetery. Akela suggested that it would be a good cleanup project. I have to agree. A tree had fallen over a few graves in the back of the cemetery.
Next stop was Mayo Homestead…a very nice place it must have been with that big fireplace! I can imagine riding a horse up to the cabin and seeing smoke drifting up out of the chimney. A promise of freshly baked bread or other delight waiting for me!
Along the last stretch we met ‘Walking Spirit’, a south bound thru hiker. He was sitting by a nicely flowing spring, enjoying his break. That is what is great about solo hiking. You hike, you break, you eat, you sleep, all without needing to check in with anyone. On the flip side, you get to an amazing view or beautiful tree and you want to share the awe with someone, but all you have is you.
I love solo, but my trail gals…awwwww yeah… that’s my heart!
Three Ridges Wilderness has been on my radar for some time now. I finally got the opportunity to hike this section Friday through Sunday of 2019 Memorial Day Weekend with the Maryland Trail Dames.
We met at the VA56 trail head parking lot, then shuttled to Dripping Rock.
Weather was optimal!
We headed south and were soon embracing a wonderful overlook without having done much work to get there.
Let’s just say we got our dessert first. I knew there had to payback, and soon enough we were rock hopping…at least the elevation was decent. Luckily, we ran out of rocks after crossing the Blue Ridge Parkway at 3 Ridges Mountain overlook. We were ready for a break!
Is that the infamous Priest in the background?
On to Reids Gap…easy, then Maupin Shelter…not so easy! All the beautiful blooming things kept me distracted and finally found myself in a lovely campsite at Maupin!
We met Fun Guy and Legacy at the shelter. Legacy is thru-hiking…Fun Guy is just running around in the woods for six months. He likes to hunt for mushrooms…hence “FunGuy”…ha, haha, …So much quirkiness on the trail!
We actually saw a ton of thru-hikers on our trek.
Next morning we made it a leisurely start. We relaxed, had our breakfast, no worries since it was only about 6 miles to Harper Creek Shelter.
Where in the world did all the rocks come from??? Am I back in Pennsylvania? That 6 miles felt like 10!!!
More great views, rhododendron, and lots of wildflowers.
We found a great spot for lunch and stretching at the summit. Thank goodness! 😂
Coming down 2000 feet to the shelter was much worse than going up!
We were all very happy to stumble into Harper Creek after a hard day hiking! Luckily, we were there earlier than most and got a good camping spot.
A roll of thunder brought an early end to our celebration! Up went my tent as fast as I could go! Once it was up, I threw my junk in, then dove in after it!
Big, big, big storm. Lots of heavy rain.
I leaned back onto my side in a very warm tent. I could nap this one out.
Splat. What the…?
Plop. Oh shieeeeet. The Big Angus has decided that now is a good time to let the seals pull away from the zipper on the fly.
Splash. *put folded up bandanna over head and ignore*
Next morning, perfect! I mean besides packing up a wet tent…cause that pretty much sucked!
The trail down to the Tye River was easy peasy. 😃 No rocks!
Thank goodness, right? If your winter was anything like my winter…ugh.
Father Winter was a big tease with lots of potential, but no big exciting events. In Maryland, we would get icy mix, a little snow, then it would melt and we were left with a few damp, chilly days in the mid-40s. Brrr…rrr
Thank you Goddess of Spring for finally taking control!
Last weekend, I led a “newbie backpacker” trip. We had 4 new and 5 experienced backpackers. The newbies had completed two shakedown hikes prior and felt somewhat prepared.
We began our adventure at Shippensburg Road trailhead on the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania. Saturday started as winter…very cold and windy! We got moving!
As we hiked the seasons turned. A lovely day indeed!
In general, we took this stretch slower, and with more breaks than I would take if I were going alone. Which makes perfect sense for new backpackers. They had plenty of time for adjusting the pack, stretching, resting, and enjoying the woods!
We rolled into Tom’s Run Shelter mid-afternoon, plenty of time for the newbies to set up.
It was a cold night and one newbie had not brought the recommended 20 degree bag. She learned and will pack accordingly next time. Sometimes, we have to learn the hard way. 🙂
Spring rebounded on Sunday! The trail was a slight disaster with tons of water flowing down it and many blowdowns that had to be climbed over, under, or around! Our newbie, who hadn’t slept much due to being cold the night before, just about petered out on the last hill of the day. We got some extra food in her and took it slow…she was determined to finish! She dug deep and conquered the last hill!
Everyone finished sucessfully at Pine Grove Furnace State Park with smiles (and a few emotional tears). I am so proud of these women! We stick together, push through our fears, learn from our miscalculations, and always Hike On!
After hiking into the NOC and staying the night, most of the Dames went home. Lola, “Akela” and I scooted up to do another micro section before doing the I-81 shit show north to Maryland. OH, WHAT A SECTION!!!!!
We drove up to Garenflo Gap to park my car first thing in the morning. The last short section of “road” to the parking area is more like a rutted out driveway up to someone’s mountain hideaway, but the parking area itself was great! However, Akela vowed to never drive her Toyota minivan up it again. 😀 No worries there, my RAV4 made it just fine.
Off to Max Patch!
Oh my! This is my new favorite place on the planet! I’m sure it was made even more memorable with the fabulous weather. Big puffy clouds in a blue, oh, so blue sky, floated with the breeze as we reveled in the fresh cool air which had settled on the bald.
There was a lovely campsite just over the high point of the bald, then several more after we descended off the bald into an area that looked very park-like. Lush green grass, tall trees, almost Eden. We made note to include this section when we come back to head south into the Smoky Mountains. A little further down the trail is Roaring Fork Shelter which also looks to be a delightful place to make camp!
All the way to Lemon Gap the trail was just a delight to walk. So different than the trail between Fontana Dam and the NOC! We were ready for a change and the trail delivered!
After Lemon Gap, we started back uphill and discussed hiking past the next shelter to the campsite listed on Guthook’s App. It seemed logical, I mean we weren’t tired and, add to that, big storms were moving in tomorrow. I would like to be out of Garenflo Gap, and down that sketchy rutted road before those storms moved in!
Well, of course, once we made the first campsite, we kept on to the second. The trail was overgrown waiting for that controlled burn we read about on a sign at Lemon Gap!
Now we were pooped! It was about 6??? Time doesn’t mean a whole lot to me on the trail, but I know it was after 5 o’clock when we pulled into the campsite. We had filtered water at a very low running stream that crossed the trail on the way down the mountain, my Katahdin sucked it right up, but Akela had to take a few more minutes to fill up her bag to use, oh what was it, a Sawyer? Anyway, it took a while. I love my Katahdin in times like these!
We set up camp, made dinner, enjoyed the sunset, then crashed!
Sleeping soundly into the night, ahhhh!
*dreaming of bears*
I was surprisingly not startled by Akela kneeling outside my tent in the middle of the night.
“What?” *notices wind has picked up*
“There’s a really big storm moving in.”
“A really big storm.” *lightning flashes…rumble of thunder*
I’ll just say here, that I am not at all bothered by storms. I grew up in the Midwest and tornado warnings were just part of life. We lived in the woods and I loved a good storm. I don’t really want to be in a tornado, but a good thunderstorm is weirdly comforting to me.
The thunder rolled over the mountain singing me to sleep. I did keep track, for a while, to the time elapse between lightning and thunder and quickly realized, while a good lightshow was upon us, the storm itself wasn’t right ON us.
Akela wasn’t so sure. However, she eventually got back into her hammock. Maybe she went to sleep eventually. 😦
I was up early as usual, still raining, then another storm moved in. Akela and I texted back and forth…nice to have cell service at times like this! I packed up everything in my tent, except the pad I was sitting on, waiting to make my exit as soon as the rain let up.
I have been through this before…everything in the pack, pack cover on, rain poncho on…rain slows, then stops. Go time! Back out of tent with poncho on, place pack so cover keeps somewhat dry, deflate pad, disassemble tent…shove into pack pockets and get the heck off the mountain!
Nearing Garenflo Gap (thanks Akela for the pic!)
The rain did not return as we hiked down the mountain to my car waiting at Garenflo Gap. Sunlight coming through the trees filtered down in rays creating an almost postcard like scene. Thunderstorms don’t last forever! Hike on!
After a night at the Hike Inn, we were smelling good, feeling rested, and ready for another overnight on the trail. I had looked forward to this section all year…Cheoah Bald!! A real bald!
Breakfast could have been fabulous. I dreamed of scrambled eggs, toast, hash browns, and coffee. Alas, nothing was open when we wheeled out of the parking lot headed to Stecoah, so I made do with trail bars and Gatorade. 😦
It did the trick somewhat. My stomach was not in its best form today. The restaurant we went to the previous night did not have any viable vegan options, so I chose what I thought was a dairy-free meal, since that is the big culprit to my system. Regrettably, it was not dairy-free! I tried my best to scrape off all bits of dairy…but no luck and as I climbed out of Stecoah Gap I was feeling it. It did not keep me back, but it kept me in check all the way up to Cheoah! Not my best day hiking!
They said there would be water somewhere at the gap. This is totally true if you want to climb down like 700 feet to get it. I’ll pass!
My hiking gals were none the wiser, thank goodness! I climbed, and climbed. That is one long uphill! It got a bit hot, so we stopped and used my backpacker fan (which I procured for free at the Summit). That fan was a BIG win!
Then as the trail leveled out, I caught a glimpse of something amazing through the rhododendron bushes.
The bald, the bald!!!! We HAVE ARRIVED! 😀 😀 😀
Amazing, and just like that, all memories of that hard climb evaporated into the bright blue sky! I pulled out my big red poncho to spread on the ground, then sprayed myself down with bug spray…no ticks on me, please. Falling back on the poncho I undid the laces on my boots and kicked them off, perfect!
Now it was time to relax a bit. Big climb over, I took it all in. The blue of the sky, the big, white puffy clouds that drifted lazily from right to left. The breeze as it made its way through the towering grasses, the bees as they hummed about me, the soft scent of hay and clover, the birds chirping to each other, the butterflies as they floated by, and me. I was able to hear, no, …really hear, and see, and feel, and smell! Oh, what a day! What a place! I felt I was a lucky person, indeed!
After the bald, it was a short downhill roll to the shelter. And guess who was waiting for us?
Uncle Charlie’s crew…sans Uncle Charlie…who had, indeed, ditched out due to his bum leg and hitched his way into the NOC. Who was, according to brother and son, currently rafting down the river loving life! Oh, Uncle Charlie! So happy you were having a great time! 😀
I pitched my tent down the hill, then immediately had to visit the privy, which was like a kazillion feet above me on the hill. Oh, the humility. Ugh.
It was a good sleeping night! haha 😀
Making our way down to the NOC!
The walk downhill to the NOC was not as bad as I thought it might be after my experience coming into the NOC last summer on the opposite side (which had major erosion due to fire damage). This side of the hill was a piece of cake compared to that! I kept waiting for the “jump-up” listed on the map. I finally decided to check Guthook’s App…turned out we were sitting just downhill from the “jump-up” taking in a lovely view while eating some snacks! Wow, didn’t think anything about it…I mean does it even warrant a nickname like “jump-up”???
The rest of the way down took a long time, for sure! and our feet were beat! For the last two miles, I fantasized about soaking my feet in the river. We could hear the happy din of people playing on the river as we made our way around and down the mountain. It added to my desperate fantasy! I needed to be at that river like a mile ago!
The Dames 🙂
And then we were there. And if you have ever backpacked into the NOC, then you know how good it is for your morale…people treat you like a superstar! They want to talk to you about the trail, they are in awe that you are carrying a backpack, on and on…All the good vibes! Hike On!
Trail Dame Summit is history! So I rushed to Sylva, North Carolina to meet up with everyone at City Lights Cafe for lunch, then off to the mountains! Highly recommend City Lights Cafe and may need to go back to check out the book store upstairs. They had a few wonderful vegan options…which gives them 5 stars in my book! 😀
The weather forecast indicated possible thunderstorms that evening but we stayed dry until we hit Jacobs Ladder after Sweetwater Gap.
“Oh, hello, North Carolina, I see you waited up for me.”
Sweat soaked us as we laboriously lifted one foot over the other to make slow forward progress. It was up, straight up, and boy, was I glad the rain held off as this was one of THOSE hills! Rain would have felt amazing, but it would have resulted in each step forward being followed by two steps sliding back. Thankfully, it was a short hill, and we quickly finished our big 2.4 mile day to Brown Fork Shelter.
Yes! Made it and no rain yet!
Brown Fork Shelter…The site of the Mice Massacre
Brown Fork Shelter is a nice shelter. It is up off the ground, seems clean enough, sturdy. In the early morning, I got up and walked toward the privy in the deep fog that had descended on the mountain, beautiful until I almost stepped on a mouse. Then, *quick inhale*, I saw that it was dead. “Oh my gawd” I had glanced around and could not unsee the littering of dead mice as I arrived back at the shelter. Creepier still was the trash bugs were crawling under them to make it appear they were still moving and a huge bullfrog sitting on the side of the shelter looking down on the massacre as if he had ordered it. UGH.
So, I have a question. Do trail maintainers ever put out mouse poison to cull the herd, so to speak? We found the powdered stuff under the back of the shelter. I was livid. Mice eat the poison, bugs eat the mice, birds eat the bugs…you get it. Yes, the mice are sometimes the most annoying opportunists, but humans made this problem. Sloppy humans who left food around. 😦
I took my irritation down the trail with me that day and had to hike it out.
Tallahassee Tom … did you kill those mice?
Bully Bullfrog…did you order those mice killed? (oh, and please don’t eat the bugs)
The hike was pleasant as we rolled along the AT to Cable Gap Shelter. Wildflowers lined the trail in places and after getting to the top of one hill we were blessed with a view of the peaks of distant mountains rising above a sea of valley fog. With each breeze, spanish moss lifted and swayed, floating with the wind for just a few seconds before falling back to cling to the bark of its tree. And it was quiet, so quiet. You can hear yourself think up here.
There were some rocky spots 🙂
Coming down a hill!
Akela…most valuable player on any hiking trip!
I was apparently fully recovered from the mice massacre when we arrived at Cable Gap since I decided to again sleep in the shelter. The threat of rain was imminent…and I wanted to keep my tent dry for at least one more day. I could feel the stillness, the humidity. I could see the leaves tipping over. Yes, it was only matter time. I got my pad set up just in time to watch the skies open up and dump. Time for a relaxing afternoon in the shelter!
Uncle Charlie, brother of Uncle Charlie, and son of brother of Uncle Charlie came trooping into the shelter area from Fontana Dam about then. These three were a comedy of errors and had us both shaking our heads and laughing. Uncle Charlie had injured his leg early in the day leaving his nephew, son of brother of Uncle Charlie to carry two packs…his own and Uncle Charlie’s. The son wore one on his back and one on his front…
Leave no trace was not part of their dinner plans, apparently. Uncle Charlie dumped his left over stuff on his plate right in front of the shelter… I totally called them out on that! OMG, dead mice and now this! As they headed up the hill to their hammocks, the son asked if he could leave his pack at the shelter (he left it outside on the ground). No problem as long as there is NO FOOD IN IT. He came back in about 15 minutes, sheepishly, and took out a couple of trail bars to hike down to their “bear bag”. Good Lord, still shaking my head!
During the night, something…maybe a possum, maybe a raccoon, or maybe an army of mice turned his pack over scaring the living bejeezus out of me. I turned on my headlamp and shot it out to his pack. The light met with a wall of fog…I saw nothing, but did not sleep particularly well the rest of the night!
I was one sleepy hiker the next morning! No matter, we were headed to Fontana Dam, then to the Hike Inn for a shower and real bed for tonight…I vowed to pop a benedryl.
All the things that go bump in the night show in our eyes! *yawn*
It was a gorgeous hike into Fontana, but a little demoralizing after we got to the Marina and found we still had about a mile and a half to go. It was hot as Hades down around Fontana Dam and that last mile *whew* the cool waters of Fontana Lake mocked me. I just wanted to jump in, but it was so far downhill!
Lucky for me I had gotten a second wind at the Marina and was charging … well okay, I am not really capable of charging, but anyway, keeping a swift pace to Fontana Dam. Then came the stairs, and the road walk, and it was hot…I got to the Dam and literally sunk to the ground to feel the cool grass. I tore my boots off and let my feet go “ahhhhhh”!!!
I wanted to get a good look at the Smoky Mountains just on the other side of the dam. They were intoxicating and pulled me in. I got up from my shady spot and with my bare feet started across the parking lot. In the middle of the sun blasted lot I broke out into a slight jog, then, dang it! a run for the grass on the other side as I felt the asphalt burning into the underside of my feet, hahaha, flashbacks to my wonder years growing up in Texas!
Yeah, and after I gazed at those lovely Smoky Mountains I had to run back to the other side… 😀 ouch, ouch, ouch…Hike on!
It was a great weekend of meeting new women, making plans for more hiking adventures, and participating in several interesting sessions. I arrived on Friday afternoon. After checking into the dorm and leafing through the schedule, I saw there was a session starting in 10 minutes on “organic camping”.
The session was being given by Lucky Sheep‘s Patrick Clark who had multiple chemical sensitivities and had no choice but to find another way. While I could not get into some of what he and his co-presenter were stating as truth, it was definitely a conversation starter. I was especially amused watching my fellow dame, Lola, a bonified Ph.D. scientist, over in the corner watching this guy dish it out. 😀 😀 I mean he was advocating not filtering water from creeks/springs for god’s sake. When challenged on that one, he backed off saying, “well, North Carolina, has good water sources” …um, okay…I thought, wait until the fracked water comes your way… HYOH, but I will still be filtering!
The next day’s sessions were better suited to me. My favorite was a session given by Lightheart Gear‘s Judy Gross (who was also my roomie). This was a session on how to make your own stuff sack or rain skirt. I chose to make a stuff sack, as did my hiking pal, Google. Quite successful! And Judy gave away scrap fabric from her stash, so I now have some techie fabric to with which to practice!
BoobOnARock and Google with the “memade” stuff sacks! Judy Gross in the background…a wonderful teacher!
On Sunday, I was a little discombobulated as I was giving a session and in the afternoon heading to the mountains to start my section hike in North Carolina…summary & pics to come to the blog soon! Anyway, I decided to attend a super fun session on painting a mandala-like design on canvas. I am seriously impressed with myself!
Gave this to sweetie when I got home 🙂
The weekend highlight and big, big surprise was winning an award for my leadership with the Maryland Chapter of Trail Dames. I was slightly embarrassed by the attention. 🙂 Heading up the Maryland Chapter is a labor of love, I assure you. I love to hike and I love to create opportunities for other women to get out in the woods!
Such a cheezy gal!
Post-Summit, my dames and I headed to North Carolina’s Applachian Trail! Hike On!