Friday, April 8, 2016

Cleaning up

Here are some extra photos taken over the past two weeks.

Say! This tent is wet!
I'll bet you never saw a tent
As wet
As I let this wet tent get.

 --- with apologies to Dr. Seuss

Photo below is one of the mill ruins found in this region. Many took forest trees that farmers cleared for crops and processed them into wood pulp for the tanning industry. Necessary at the time, perhaps -- but the day when the great forests once again can support the diversity of life they once did? Not soon.

These three- and four-story stone walls still standing straight and tall after a century or two speak to the talents of the artisans and their energy, black, white, Mali, Igbo, Berber, Polish, German, Irish, Italian, a dozen other cultures. Perhaps they could have preserved more of what was already here, but they saw more pressing needs at the time.


ALSO PEN MAR POST OFFICE                
THIS WAS IN EARLY 1900'S                   

"Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away."
-- Percy Bysshe Shelley, Ozymandias

It's a bridge. You cross it, and mysterious things happen.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Harpers Ferry

Weverton Cliffs -- I had forgotten the last time I climbed them. Considerably stronger these days.

Weverton Cliffs

Down to the parking lot to meet John and Barbara, off to enjoy a restaurant meal and ice cream for dessert and an overnight stay at the Teahorse Inn. Tuesday, the last shelter stop for this trip; Wednesday at Blackburn Trail Center for a ride back to the land of microwaves, refrigerators, four lane highways and yard work

For now.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

This is a backpackers' shelter?

The shelter at Compton's Gap did not have to save me from falling trees -- there weren't any -- and unlike the next stop, the spring was close by. So I loaded up with four liters of water and pulled my way back up to the ridgeline. (How much does a liter of water weigh?) Good place for an overnight stay, best of the trip so far. On to Ed Garvey Shelter!

Compton's Gap has a curious place in Civil War history, detailed by a number of roadside memorials. As General Lee marched the Army of the Confederacy into its first invasion of the North, General McClellan sent the Army of the Potomac through three passes near South Mountain, one of which was Crampton's Gap.

The 500 Confederate defenders were overwhelmed by a carefully and methodically led Union force several times their size, leaving half of Lee's army vulnerable -- but McClellan did not pursue the victory at South Mountain aggressively. The larger part of Lee's army regrouped and marched on to Bloody Antietam while the demoralized Union forces left to fight on their own at Harpers Ferry surrendered to Stonewall Jackson's corps. McClellan was relieved, and Lincoln used the popularity wave after the victory at South Mountain to announce the Emancipation Proclamation.

Might have beens ... might have been, but were not. On, on, on!

Today's walk was intentionally planned to stop short of descending the steep trail down Weverton Cliff at the end of a tiring day. I found the Ed Garvey shelter, usually bustling with hikers, emptied out -- why? The signs of active work to cut down trees vulnerable to wind damage reminded me; this was the location where a hiker died last year when, in a fit of random bad luck, a tree fell square on his tent.

Chastened by the risk of lawsuits and bad press, the trail authorities surveyed Ed Garvey and several other shelter areas to remove the weakest trees, leaving many of the trunks lying near the tent sites. Which apparently spooked people who might have enjoyed the day here in tents (because the threatening trees had been removed) or at least enjoyed the outdoors from the safety of the two story backpackers shelter built of ten inch logs.

This is a backpackers shelter?

Carefree risktaker types would think "good, problem solved", set up tent in the middle of the woods next to a couple of trees that had been cut down, and spend the night among the soft sounds of wind blowing through the trees.  The only difficulty I had was finding a good branch to hang my bear bag.  

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Safe haven at Comptons Gap

Fast paced walk today, running the ridge towards Harpers Ferry with an eye on the weather. The NWS alert says 50-60 mph gusts; not having a tent rated to that level, I chose to turn off the Trail and go a quarter mile downhill to stay in the shelter at Comptons Gap.

Which is on the lee side of the oncoming wind storm.

And is freshly renovated.

And within 50 *horizontal* yards of the spring.

And unoccupied by other travelers, though a place of interest for chatty tent campers farther up the hill (because, on the way to the spring, also the privy).

One of whom insisted that I share some of the Bud Light he and his airline flight attendant girlfriend were packing.

Life is tough sometimes. Tomorrow, weather permitting, the last shelter before I descend Weverton Cliff into Harpers Ferry for a hot shower, a restaurant dinner, and some ice cream.

Comptons Gap Shelter

Friday, April 1, 2016

Annapolis Rocks

The forecast thunderstorm held off until 4 p.m. Wasn't much of a storm, either.

As a way to keep my muscles from tightening up, I went back up the hill to visit Annapolis Rocks. Serendipity again! A trio of hikers wearing PATC overseer ridgerunner shirts were headed up with all the gear that the Annapolis Rocks caretaker needed to seet up his base camp for the next 8 months.

One of the hikers identified himself as one of the "Magnificent 7" that lead the N.C. Hoodlums trail repair crew, another group of volunteers like my own Cadillac Crew team.  We exchanged polite and cheery compliments about the quality of work each team is doing, and shared regret over the fading number of volunteers willing to spend a weekend raking, digging, sawing, and dragging rocks around. Can't imagine why, leaving all the fun for us, &c.

Another introduced himself as a member of the PATC Executive Committee, the people who get the responsibilty for every injustice and visionary shortfall in the organization. I admitted that I have not yet attended the annual meeting (people who attend seem to find their names attached to the really messy jobs). I assured him that I would attend this year.

Guess I'd better make sure my dues are paid up to date, as well.

Site admin note

For anyone who has not tried to post a comment on the blog website, could you give it a try and let me know if you have any difficuties?

Still learning how to build websites.


Occasional and gentle rain, just enough to sweeten the air.

Keeping a wary eye out for First Snake.