Thursday, December 29, 2016

Holiday scents of Pine(sol)

Christmas Day at PATC's new Old Rag Cabin, the third group of renters (possibly the last group to do so for sweat equity). Expectations are that occupancy will be high; the cabin is located near the trailhead and parking lot for Old Rag Mountain. It's a well known day hike and scramble through the broken bits of sea bed that crown the mountain ridge, with thousands of climbers during the spring, summer, and autumn.

Interesting geology, actually, the mountain is formed of "Old Rag Granite", very different in appearance from the Catoctin greenstone that dominates the area. The USGS has a more detailed history, with helpful pictures, at

As with the first two groups of "rent free" renters, we were handed a list of minor repairs (hmpf) and cosmetic finishing steps (hah) to complete during our four day stay.  Good times were had nevertheless, with food and drink in excess of our ability to consume and a couple of strolls in the woods to settle our stomachs.

We chose not to climb Old Rag, though, opting for neighboring Mt. Robertson -- less ornately crowned with rubble, but six feet higher than its more popular neighbor.

Old Rag Cabin

Christmas Dinner 2016

High tech wood stove!

More photos are at

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

A poem by William Wordsworth

Whate'er its mission, the soft breeze can come
To none more grateful than to me; escaped
From the vast city, where I long had pined
A discontented sojourner: now free,
Free as a bird to settle where I will.

What dwelling shall receive me? in what vale
Shall be my harbour? underneath what grove
Shall I take up my home? and what clear stream
Shall with its murmur lull me into rest?

The earth is all before me. - William Wordsworth

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

An invitation

Readers of this blog may have noticed that backpacking the Appalachian Trail has become an unmatched source of adventure, enjoyment, and strength for me in 260-plus miles of following white blazes over rocks and through the woods. Hopefully, the acknowledgement of the mild insanity has also come through; whatever its fame may be, the AT is neither an adventure beyond civilization's edge or even an especially challenging trail for serious mountaineers. Often I have set camp within minutes of a hot shower and a warm bed, swallowed rehydrated potluck meals, hung my supplies out of the reach of bears, then crawled into my tent and slept on a thin pad until dawn.  Rinse cookware, repeat.

It is becoming one of the best times in my life, a humbling experience in rebuilding and in redirection. I do recommend that everyone find a time and place to spend weeks walking with everything necessary in your pack and nothing more important to think about than the next water supply.

For anyone moved by curiosity but concerned about a lack of experience, please think about doing a week on the trail with me this year. You will find new dimensions in yourself -- if only in sore joints and muscles!

Here's my rough schedule, entirely subject to change. Email me if you want to meet at one of these stops and spend four unhurried days on our first national Trail.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

A stone stair to Paris Overlook

(There's a story to go with that title somewhere ...)

Big crew turnout for the effort last month, thought I would post some photos to show the fun stuff we get to do.

PATC Stone Stair Installation Team
Grip hoist vs. Rock

If it tries to run away, jump on it

Sorry, no free rides

Rock and Roll!

Our official step size tester

Three Men and a Stubborn Rock

Bench installation support crew