Saturday, October 16, 2010

Rain Man

Las night me and Daisy went camping along the ridge between Mary's Rock Jewell Hollow in Shenandoah National Park. The weather forecast was for partly cloudy with a high of 65. I had it in my head to camp at a spot that had enough room for one tent right off the trail and faced the Shenandoah valley, rather than at the Byrd's Nest shelter in the area.

Anywho, surprise surprise, we were getting intermittent monsoons and howling wind all the way up(I had parked my car about 3 miles away), and by the time the weather had really gotten bad enough that I thought we should turn around it was already close enough to sunset(1830) that it would be more dangerous to hike in the dark in the weather than set up camp. As we walked up to the spot I noticed that there was another tent there. I silently cursed, as this meant that I would have to push on to Byrd's nest, another half a mile or so down the line.

Dude pokes his head out of the tent and goes "Hey, I think there's enough room for you to set up too!" Before I can respond there's a loud crack as a bigass branch crashes in the woods amidst the howling wind. He was out of his tent like a bat out of hell and started to break his tent down.

"In fact, you can have the spot...I'm heading home." The rain starts to pick up and it's going horizontally. Daisy is leaning into the wind and her ears are flying.

"Alright." I say. I look at my watch and sigh. Not a chance I'm going to be up here on this ridge and I'm not looking forward to the forced-march to Byrd's Nest. "I'm going to get to Byrd's Nest, it's on lower ground."

"Might be better if you head on home, it looks like it's getting pretty bad." He gestures and sure enough there's lightning in the distance.

"Car is at Thornton Gap, I'm not going to hike in the dark in this."

"My car is at Buck Hollow trailhead, I'll drive you."

So the three of us head on down and even though it's still an hour before official sunset the weather gives the whole woods an eerie darkness. We're chatting it up and one of the subject's is gear, which IMO is basically one of the least polarizing subjects you can talk about when you meet random folks camping.


Anyway, he goes "You have a Sierra Designs tent? You know...I think I saw a picture of your tent and dog on"

And of course he did. Whiteblaze is a hiking forum I frequent. I affirmed he probably did. We chatted some more and when we stepped onto Skyline Drive the cloud cover was still there but there was a stillness that seemed to be a "calm before the storm" scenario. He got us to my car, and we went our separate ways.

On the way back we took the noticed that all the local farmers had their cattle out in the fields, which of course was far more entertaining for Daisy than the 4-mile ish forced march.

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