We were invited out to see the Bedrock Sandals production facility and loft in Charlottesville, VA. Nick and Dan, the makers of fine sandals treated us to a tour of the facility. Each pair is made by their own hands in small runs in a multi-stage process. It was cool to tie in some straps and become part of the assembly line for a couple pairs. We have been wearing them around camp and loving the pairs we helped put together. Thanks a lot Nick and Dan it was cool kicking it at the loft and witnessing the hard work and skill that goes into each pair.
Dan drove us to resupply at a swanky Harris Teeter. We stunk up the place and got a lot of friendly stares. We purchased the night's dinner which was 2 lbs. of ground beef, peppers, onions, yellow rice, avocado and tortillas. That all adds up to tacos, and lots of them. Too bad they weren't ready to eat until around midnight.
Why so late? Well we hit the trail pretty late that particular day and only planned to do about 1.2 miles of easy Shenandoah miles to the nearest shelter around mile 938.6 and know as Pass Mountain shelter. If all went according to plan we would have arrived around 7 or 8 pm and had plenty of time to vegetate. Muffins, Still Dont, and Dumpstermouth arrived and set up camp behind the privy at the overrun shelter totally packed out and void of any tenting space.
It got dark and Mr. Dallas hadn't arrived yet. The terrain was such a cake walk that he had over walked the shelter by about 3.8 miles and was becoming confused in the dark. Where in the world is the shelter? It all made sense once he realized the concrete pylons he had been passing the whole time had steel bands with known distances and landmarks stamped into them in size 10 font.
He pulled out his headlamp and pointed right up close at the place marker. The light flickered flashed and died. The batteries were drained when it somehow got smashed and turned on in the pack. Things just got a little more complicated. He sat down in the dark and remembered the standard addage, "If lost, relax."
It was too dark to move without a light. What to do, what to do? It would be nice if he could read his map. In a stroke of obvious he remembered his crank radio and the light it has built into it. He pulled it out and cross referenced his map to the information on the pylon. It sunk in and he smiled at the prospect of hiking backwards for the next 2 hours in the dark.
Pop music and saturday night dance tunes kept him company as he hiked along keeping a constant rotation going on the crank to light his path. He switched to classical radio and things got a little freaky. Organ music, the bombastic creepy kind with blasting crescendos gave him chills in the dark. He liked it.
He crept up on some weekend hikers attempting to stealth camp off the trail. He passed them earlier and knew he still had a long way to go. The light turned off, but the organ performance continued as he slowly walked by with silent steps and lingered a moment a few yards from their tent. Their lights turned off and they were whispering to each other terrified. Mr. Dallas moved on holding back snickers.
Mr. Dallas arrived at the proper location around 11:20pm, organ music blaring. Muffins was stirred from his dreams by the eerie wailing and piping of a master organ concerto. Turns out Still Dont and Dumpstermouth had left to go try and find Mr. Dallas. Plus one, minus two.
Mr. Dallas immediatley started cooking up the tacos and Still Dont and Dumpstermouth arrived expressing their concerns. They believed he had been arrested or killed by a poacher. He was merely tacking up some bonus miles. The tacos were demolished and the greasy dishes were flossed out. Sleep fell on us hard and fast.
Several days later around 980.3 we were at Dick's dome shelter. The shelter is dome shaped and bears resemblance to the double stack of innuendo of its namesake. Harper's Ferry was only a couple days away and we were finally hitting a 20 mile per day stride. It was scorching hot outside and our water was going straight through us. And then came the roller coaster.
The roller coaster is about 14 miles of 500 foot climbs followed immediately by 500 foot descents. In the 90 degree heat it might as well have been a meat grinder. Sweat made it way straight through our clothes. It pooled up in Dumpstermouths glasses and could be wrung out in a brown splash from our clothes.
The recent rains made the streams brown and full of water filter killing sediment. We had to fill our bucket and let the water settle for an hour or so, and then filter it off the top. We even stuck it out several miles passing one murky water source in the hopes that the next would be more clear. It was. We splashed and dunked our heads in the freezing cold spring to fight the heat.
Near the end of the roller coaster we were beat and in desperate need of water. Muffins and Dumpstermouth stopped at the Bears Den Rocks and explored the water options. Dumpstermouth walked down to Bears Den Hostel to fill his water reservoir and came back running and excited.
"Why are you running?" Still Dont asked. Running is quite abnormal on the trail for a hiker. Dumpstermouth was excited. "Yo, there's a ton of food up there and a bunch of people we know, let's go." He had us at food.
There was a hiker feed going on and the magic was flowing in the form of chicken and noodles, green beans, mashed potatoes, and all the soda you could dream of. In an instant we went from exhausted and dehydrated to uncomfortably full and food comas extraordinaire. It was topped off with a pint of Ben and Jerry's for each of us and a warm shower.
The Bears Den Hostel was a fantastic stay and an amazing castle in the woods. Thank you Potomac Appalachian Trail Club for maintaining outstanding facilities and trail miles. Volunteers Dick and caretaker Jonathan do great work.
written by Mr. Dallas