One fine day Jimmy's email came through that there had been a lack of LM trips on the calendar. I looked at my schedule and since MST Section 5 got cancelled, I had a free weekend to lead a LM trip. Michael's book came in very handy when I had to pick a place and returning to Caledonia State Park sounded like a good option. It was going to be my first time leading a LM trip. Also, since the Ramsey's Draft trip (which was my first trip ) back in Nov'13, this would be the first time when all the faces on a DCUL trip were new to me. Haha.
Steve, Dave and Nick met me at Grosvenor metro on Saturday, we rolled out right on time at 8. Nick and I expressed surprise at leaving right on time - I think that was when we jinxed it. We got to the parking lot, I was surprised to see so many parking lots which was confusing. The location I scouted on google maps turned out be inaccessible. I take responsibility for that - sorry for the confusion, everyone. We hopped from one parking lot to the other and came across Katy, Tony and Tim who had camped together the night before. Van was still missing though and after repeatedly attempting to call her without success, I left behind a message that we were on our way.
The trip began well. The skies were clear but the temperatures weren't too hot. It was nice to walk in the shade of the trees - that protected us well from the hot, beating sun. We linked up to the AT and headed north. After our first climb, we paused at Quarry Gap Shelter - known to be one of the best shelters on the AT. It is really well maintained - credit goes to Jim Staunch, the innkeeper.
We climbed onwards and came upon our turning point at Hosack Run Trail junction. We descended swiftly and hit Locust Gap Trail. Here we took a nice, long lunch break fueling ourselves. We ran into the legend himself, Jim Staunch. He was out there to trim the grass on the trails for the hikers. After he made a really good pitch to all of us to become PATC members, we said goodbye to him. What a spirited man! Hosack run trail led us to the eagerly anticipated Long Pine Run Reservoir. I was here in January 2014 and it was completely frozen then. It was cool to see it in a different form. There were many people out to enjoy the reservoir in various activities - fishing, kayaking, I think there people were on a sail boat too. We stopped briefly to take pictures and think about the meaning of life.
As we walked around the boundary of the reservoir, the trail became even nicer amongst the pine trees. It was calm and peaceful. It felt good to be back in the woods. It was time for another short break.
We continued on towards Rocky Run Trail. The trail climbed and so did we. At the turnoff, we turned right and climbed steeply. Soon we were at the overlook (I think..) which we didn't offer a great view so we turned around to hunt the blueberries around. They were plenty of blueberries in the area.
From here, it was a short, easy walk to the campsite - Birch Run Shelter. We ran into Van at the campsite…Van got to the parking lot later than we initially did and didn't have any cell reception at all. She knew where I was planning to camp and since it was on the AT, she decided to walk the whole day on AT in hopes of meeting us at the campsite. And that is what happened. I was glad she made that decision - it was nice to meet her. The campsite was somewhat crowded - but it was a huge area, so there was plenty of space. We setup camp, had our dinners, made fire, had fun conversations, discussed astronomy and headed off to sleep before 9. It was a pretty good day on the trail.
Morning came and we were on the trail just before 8. The plan was to walk back to the parking heading SOBO on the AT all the way. We had an easy route ahead of us - apart from 1 major climb (300 ft. elevation gain), it was flat or downhill. After the first few miles, Van tripped on a rock and got some bad bruises. We helped her take care of the wounds and she was ready to go. The weather was starting to warm up slowly, but again the temps were not too hot. We took a break in a blueberry infested area.
It was hard to stop eating blueberries, but we finally did. The miles flew by. We came by Quarry Gap Shelter again and posed for a group pic.
Before we realized, we were passing through the state park and then we were at the cars. I stayed back with Van to help her get wounds properly cleaned and then we headed to Appalachian Brewing Company in Gettysburg (Thanks B~~~~). They had closed down back in Dec, but they opened up in a new area. Beers, Root beer floats, burgers were had. Very enjoyable. It was time to say good-byes.
I had a great time in everyone's company. I was also happy to see so many new faces. Hope everyone had as much fun as I did!
Nice trip report, Karan!
[b]Karan[/b], thank-you for leading this group. I had a amazing time and learned quite a bit, especially about pacing and lightening my load! Your patience and willingness to help out the "newbies," such as myself (i.e, extra gas canisters!) was well appreciated, and made my first backpacking experience very enjoyable! Looking forward to more adventures in what I plan to be a lifetime hobby. We had a diverse group and you handled it wonderfully, thanks again! To all the rest of the group, it was a pleasure meeting and spending the weekend outdoors with all of you. Hopefully our paths will cross again! -Timothy