Tuesday, October 16, 2012:
Paul 'Parkside' Bernhardt (the thru-hiker who passed away at Pierce Pond, ME on 6/15/12) laughingly said of me when he took my picture posing with one hiking stick: "whoa, shades of John Muir!"
On September 7, 2010 I visited Manassas Gap Shelter and found no log book, but a single sheet of paper left by photographer-artist 'Mark', who was hiking with 'Someday', both headed south (both would complete the entire trail, and 'Someday' received her 2000 miler patch from ATC). I signed Mark's paper, lamenting the lack of a register book, and then went home for the night.
At home I got to thinking - I had an old hard-bound Record Book - 500 pages thick - that I had kept among my books for 30 years or more and had barely used. Hey - why not donate it to PATC, take it to the shelter. I was going back tomorrow anyway, to take up the trail where I had left off. So I labeled the cover, wrote an introductory entry on page 1, and left the book at Manassas Gap Shelter on 9-8-2010. Here's how it looked, with my page 1 entry and the page 2 addition, with Mark's single page inserted at right:
Well, today I returned to Manassas Gap Shelter for the first time since that day. OMG! Look at this:
It's still there!!! I had been thinking about that book - I gave it ZERO chance of still being there! Shelter log books rarely last six months, except in places with caretakers. Wow! Sadly, pages 1 and 2 were missing. The first surviving entry (using the pen I left), appears on page 3, part of which you can see at right:
What was originally a 500 page book, had been whittled down to about 320 pages, thanks to the typical practice of people 'borrowing' blank pages from the back.
A lot of memories flooded back as I sat there at the picnic table gazing at that log book. I lingered there, paging through it. Lots of other familiar names in those pages as well: 'Bomber', 'Patches', 'Pretzel' ... I could go on and on ...
But I need to go on! On to describing the rest of today's wonderful hike. Manassas Gap Shelter was the southern end of the 9.5 miles of trail I covered today. Ashby Gap (US 50) was the north end. In between I traversed the G. Richard Thompson Wildlife Management Area and was hiking mostly in woods. I got to visit the peculiar little structure known as Dick's Dome shelter:
And in the afternoon I strolled Sky Meadows State Park, where the ghostly image up top was taken. The high meadows and open woodlands, all kept mowed by the park, were a real pleasure to walk on this crystal clear day:
So it was a special day, and one that materially connects this year's AT hiking adventure with the section hiking I did in 2010. I think if I ever come back to hike one piece of trail in the future, this will be it.
Here's the map and photo link for today's hike:
AT Day 258 - Sky Meadows St Park at EveryTrail
EveryTrail - Find the best Hiking in Virginia
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