When everyone (Chupacabra, Trailsurfer, Crash) was picked up, we decided not to stop at the Everyday Café in Charlottesville but stopped at a Burger King and ate. We then drove on up to the trail head off the Blue Ridge Parkway at Reed’s Gap, arriving about 10PM.
At the trailhead we loaded up, switched on our headlamps and took off. ‘Crash’ got a burst of energy and trotted up the trail ahead of ‘Trailsurfer’ and myself. That lasted about 15 minutes. We caught up and ‘Crash’ dutifully took his place in line with the rest of us slowpokes (did I mention it was dark?)
I have 2 RULES for the mountains:
Number 1 – What goes down, must come up, and
Number 2 – There is NO SUCH THING as a SMALL accident in the mountains.
Watching someone run on the trail carrying a pack makes me a little nervous, watching someone do the same thing – in the dark – makes me more than a little nervous. That is a great way to get injured. I’m lazy; I don’t want to worry about evacuations on the trail! Lord have mercy, practice a little common sense, please don’t take such risky actions! Think before you act. Something else I see from time to time, young guys with heavy packs ‘tight-roping’ across a slippery tree to cross over a creek or gorge.
Where was I, oh yes. So we walked in the moonlight in the forest, up and over a small hill, passed a tent on the left, and headed down to the Maupin AT shelter. We pitched camp in the small clearing on the left, the moon was exceedingly bright and the stars were shining, no need for rain flies. Or so I thought. The moon was so bright it was like having a light on. The wind was howling and the trees were swaying, it seemed like someone was swinging a flashlight back and forth on your tent.
Trailsurfer noticed 2 large dead trees right over his and my tents (widowmakers), so it was move or try to rationalize staying in place (we stayed). Same thing with hanging bear bags, (we didn’t.)
It got kind of cold that night, low 40’s, so sleeping was excellent!
That morning, I cooked 3 large Pillsbury grande biscuits in my pot, then fried the pre-cooked sausages in the pot, being careful not to burn my lexan knife this time.
While kicking back enjoying sausage biscuits and coffee, a funny thing happened. Four cars pulled into the campsite. We look at each other and said WTF! Well, the TATC was up there doing trail maintenance and apparently they have a secret road which gets them up to the hut. We exchanged pleasantries, loaded up on water at the hut, and then hit the trail about 10AM.
For the next 6 hrs we trudged up and over the 3 ridges stopping for a lunch break on the 3rd ridge , looking northeast and again on the flat rock outcrop just down from chimney rock, looking southwest, arriving at the Harper Creek shelter area around 4PM. Amazingly no one was totally exhausted so we wasted no time setting up tents. A shout-out to ‘Crash’ for being the only one motivated to scrounge up fire wood and work on the fire. I provided the fire-starter.
Around this time I cooked my dinner, made a banana nut muffin for everyone, and then ran out of fuel (see earlier post for rant on that).
Next morning (Sunday) we got an earlier start, around 9PM, and headed off. When we linked up with Campbell creek, we got to walk alongside the water and enjoyed dozens of small waterfalls and pools. We took a small break at the large (maybe 5 tents capable) campsite then headed out for the last stretch of trail. We arrived at the Maupin shelter around 1 and back to the car about 1:30 or 2PM.
We stopped at the Everyday Café, off Rt 250, in Charlottesville for snacks, and that was that.
In Summary: Nice trip, weather was great, conversation was excellent, and the time on the trail passed fairly quickly.
For pictures go to \\meetup.com\ocbackpackers\