I’ve been pretty lax on blogging since we returned from Colorado Maroon Bells 4 Pass Loop. It was warmer than expected, probably reached 80F, maybe low 80’s and the trip seemed to really take it out of me for a while. It was a few weeks before the urge to hit the trail started hitting me once again.
Those temps don’t sound like much, but when coupled with the altitude and a no shade situation, I was just a little more tired at the end of each day than in years past (at least from what I remember). I’m sure it has nothing to do with getting older each year.
This is weird because I think that this year I was in better shape than ever before. I was able to shorten my stride going up the passes, walked slower, and NEVER HAD TO STOP! (Yeah). In past years, I would huff and puff and stop every 20 paces to catch my breath and “take pictures”, I wound up taking a LOT of pictures in the past just below the passes!
Hmm, I shouldn’t complain, and I’m not, about the “no shade situation”, the best part of hiking in Colorado VS Virginia is the 360 degree, jaw-dropping views, not the fucking tree tunnels that I have to suffer with here in Virginia.
Ok, now it sounds like I’m complaining about Virginia, I’m not really, we are BLESSED to have the George Washington and Thomas Jefferson National Forests, and the tree tunnel known as the Appalachian Trail, and the dozens and dozens of loops off the AT which make for FANTASTIC backpacking weekends.
If anybody cares, here’s what I did to get in shape for Maroon Bells; I started walking all year, about 2.2 miles at lunch at work, then 5 miles, just walking, normal stride, about 3 times a week. About 2 times a week, I would hit the treadmill at my gym, crank it up to 15degrees elevation with a 2.5 mph speed, and try to hang on for 60 minutes, this is a 2000’ elevation gain. About 2 months out I started carrying a 30lb pack 2-3 times a week on my after work walk.
Now, to the purpose of this post;
My good hiking buddy ‘Sherpa’s husband “Le Dutch” joined us on the Tar Jacket Ridge hike last week and wrote up the follow trip report.
But first…I gotta say I had a blast! Bill is just as hilarious as Meg! I absolutely enjoy hiking with witty, intelligent and thought provoking beer drinkers! You better have your wit and conversation skills sharpened when walking (or driving for hours) with this crew. There is nothing better on the trail than a good natured, spirited discussion to pass the time! And of course, the occasional on the trail beer break! They’ll probably say that I monopolize the conversations, that’s only because I’m older and have all this bullshit bottled up because my wife won’t let me get started with camping stories…but see how I’ve rambled on now?
This post was for “Le Dutch”
So here it is…
Bill Lamoreaux originally shared this post:
Trip Report: Tar Jacket Ridge 14 – 16 September 2012
The drive from Williamsburg to the camping spot was uneventful and easy going with Phil telling stories from times of yore. We stopped in Staunton for dinner at The Mill. The stop was longer than planned (the place apparently is packed on a Friday night!), but we got to visit a game store (containing every stereotype imaginable in a comic / game store), and saw some great old cars. Once we were seated, Meghan ordered like she was going to not eat for the weekend (Soup, salad AND a crab cake sandwich; really?!), I ordered like I had no nutritional care in the world (chicken wings, BBQ ribs and steamed shrimp), and Phil ordered sensibly (nachos and beer 4TW). We made it to base camp in the dark, got our stuff and proceeded to make camp. The camp is a mowed sloped field, which made for easy camping. Phil, Meghan and I plopped our stuff down, and Will, Mark and Kitty showed up. Once set up, a beer was had and conversations about the constellations ensued. The night was very clear, and no moon in the sky. The talk did get a little loud at times, but thankfully (and unbeknownst to us…) it was only Paul next to us losing sleep. And speaking of losing sleep, some sorry chap was stranded at the edge of the field with no flashlight. After about 5 minutes of listening to him call for help to some non-existent friends, Mark finally headed over to see if he could help. Mr. Sorry Chap had a sleeping bag, but no tent or flashlight; so apparently, he slept in his car. We all called it a night shortly afterwards, and made for our huts. But not before an Italian Greyhound made the rounds wearing an audible collar and a ones’ie. Yes, the dog had a wardrobe. . .
We all woke at our own pace, but by the time breakfasts were being cooked, we were all “up and at ’em”. Phil made some biscuits double-boiler method and shared with the group. I kept it light with fruit and nuts. Will decided to eat his dinner for the day for breakfast, adding too much water to his dehydrated chicken meal — made a tolerable meal — crappy. Poor fella. We discovered the Italian Greyhound in the ones’ie was part of our group, and owned by Diane. Our tour had a mascot; Victor. We met up with the rest of the group (Paul & Stephanie) and started to make our plans for the trail. Folks broke camp at their own pace and hit the trail in smaller groups. Meghan, Phil and I made a pod about 9:30, and mosey’d at a casual pace. By 10AM, I decided it was foolish to carry a bottled beer the whole way (it wasn’t getting any colder), so I started to enjoy it while waiting for Phil and Meghan. I think Phil thought it was irresponsible for the new guy to have a beer on the trail — so he took one for the team — and drank half of it. Thanks, Phil!
Trail conversations are what they are (I learned, don’t let Phil cook your mashed potatoes. . ) and we made camp in about 5 hours. The weather was beautiful, partly cloudy and mostly cool. We passed a group of folks going on horseback, and a single AT hiker. Once at camp, we setup and relaxed in the afternoon sun. Paul was enjoying a fine beverage out of a little silver cup that reminded me of the ones they use for sauces at Outback Steakhouse (Five finger discount, Paul?). Mark and Kitty ventured out to Spy Rock where they encountered a friendly drum circle of sorts; making it back just as the rest of the group were finishing dinner, about dusk. Will was having beef jerky for dinner (because he ate his planned meal 10 hours earlier), Phil made muffins for any takers, and Paul and Stephanie made some rice, chicken and (rehydrated) veggies. Meghan successfully packed in 3 fresh eggs and bacon. I was laden with half a dozen homemade biscuits, and we made egg sandwiches. Will had this puppy dog look on his face, so he got bacon and biscuits as well. I suppose it was the least we could do since he made a pretty nice fire. Paul rehydrated some fancy-high-dollar meal that looked pretty good, Diane did the same, and Victor had stew, peanuts, and whatever else he found to eat that was scattered around camp. Good boy!
After dinner conversations were lively and Phil only swore twice. Something about asking Meghan if she was going to burn down the whole forrest. . .
Meghan and I were the last ones up and out of camp, hitting the trail about 10:30AM. Instead of making the loop, we backtracked the same way we came in. Not wanting to hold anyone up at the cars, Meghan turned on the afterburners and we completed the first 5.5 miles of the trail in just under two hours. As we closed in on the last mile, we came upon the rest of the group (sans Paul and Stephanie, who were waiting for us by the cars); which, to my surprise backtracked as well. We all high-fived and made plans to meet up at Dr. Ho’s Humble Pie for some pizza (except Paul). Delicious pizza was had, and we all split our ways to head home. More tales of yore from Phil shortened the car ride and we were in Williamsburg before we knew it.
A great trip with super people, expertly coordinated. Great memories and new things learned (like, you wearing deodorant isn’t for you, it’s for everyone else).
Like — for God’s sake — don’t let Phil cook your mashed potatoes.
The beautiful views on Tar Jacket Ridge are often overlooked with the spectacular vistas from Mount Pleasant and Cold Mountain just next door. The vista from Tar Jacket Ridge offers views of The Cardi…