Since my Friday nights are still occupied with Wallyball, the plan was to head out Saturday morning and stay out until Monday afternoon. I had taken a day of leave on Monday. One of my last days of leave before my final chunk as I head into retirement. The first night we planned on staying at the Rocky Run Shelter, about 6.9 miles south of the Rt 70/40 trail head. For the second night I had reserved the PATC Bear Spring Cabin. I had also looked up a few Geocaches as something I might do to break up the hiking day. I was very excited to get on the trail again and even though the weather forecast called for possible snow on Sunday night, so it was sure to make things interesting as we hiked back to the truck on Monday morning.
I left the club a little earlier than usual as I wanted to try and get some sleep before we hit the trail. I got up just before 0700 and after some coffee and gear load out we were on the road at about 0850. We stopped at McDonald's for some breakfast and were at the trailhead at about 1015 or so. Now, this is a Saturday with a bright blue sky and the temperatures near 50. Everyone and their doggie brother were at the trail head and after a ride through, there were no real spaces to park. I found a place to put the Subaru while I waited for a space to open up. I hoped it wouldn't be too long, but I knew I had some time before things would get dicey. I let Ginger out and we were going to walk to the end of the lot where a guard rail cache was supposed to be hidden, but before I got 30 feet I saw two guys getting into their car. I asked them if they were heading out and when they replied in the affirmative, I ran back to the SUV and got a pretty primo spot in the lot. We were on the trail by 1037.
|The start of our hike. Crossing over Interstate 70|
|Ginger hopping boulders|
|Ready to head out|
Before long we were approaching the old Route 40 where the Dahlgren Chapel has stood since 1881.
|View to the east|
A short few minutes later we were at Dahlgren campground, which is a free campground with a shower house and rest rooms. Of course the building was closed for the season, but there was a porta potty there and water was 150 yards back up the road. We filled up on water took a little pack off break and then headed on after eating some more snacks. We were getting pretty close to the end of our first days hike, but we had one more cache to find before we arrived at the shelter.
|Fife and Drum Family|
We found the last cache of the day on the edge of a power line about a mile or so from the shelter and before long we were walking down the blue blaze trail to the shelter. Rocky Run shelter is actually two shelters. The older one is further down the trail near the nice spring and the new one is a really nice shelter. There was no one else around and after checking out the area for good tent sites, I decided to set up the tent inside the shelter. I wanted to use the tent to corral Ginger since she can get a little skittish at night, growing and barking at imagined noises in the dark. I figured if anyone else showed up I could always move to one of the other sites I scouted, but we ended up being the only occupants of the shelter for the night.
The last time I was here I was also all alone. That night was quite different back in July of last year, I suffered through the night as the local tree frogs peeped a cacophony throughout the night. I cursed myself for forgetting my earplugs. This night would be filled with a deafening silence as the woods continued their sleep not realizing that Spring had arrived a few days ago.
I made a nice fire and was getting ready to get inside the tent as the sun dropped behind the ridge and the temperature started to plummet. I enjoyed talking to each of the other hikers and it would have been nice to share the large shelter with other hikers, but tonight Ginger and I would be alone together.
|It ain't camp unless there is a fire|
To be Continued... Next - Day 2 - Hiking to the cabin