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Shenandoah National Park

Backpackers: Carl Fisher


 Bear Fence Mountain Hut

First night stop at Bear Fence Mountin Hut.

View of the trail
A representative sample of the trail.

View from Mary's Rock. The best on this stretch of trail.

Carl taking in the view from Mary's Rock.

August 07, 2014 Miles 9.5 – Lori dropped Carl off at 11:30 AM at the intersection of Hwy 33 and the AT at Swift Run Gap. The plan was for Carl to hike 5.5 miles to Pocosin Cabin where there is water and to find a place to camp. Around 2:00PM Carl thought he saw a deer so got his camera ready for a picture but then, for an instant, he saw two black ears and a black snout about 30 yards away coming toward him. The bear was unaware of Carl’s presence. He immediately put away his camera, starting talking and hitting his walking sticks together as he walked away slowly. He arrived at Pocosin cabin at 3:00PM – still full of energy (and no camp sites) so decided to push on to Bear Fence Mountain Hut. The water source at the hut is barely a trickle so having a smaller jug for dipping was helpful. Even so, there was lots of sediment to filter. There was, however, enough cool water to chill wine to perfect drinking temperature. Carl saw no one on the trail after noon.

August 08, 2014 Miles 15.2 (with side hike) – Carl awoke at 11:00PM the night before by lots of voices moving into the hut – at this point he was glad he decided to stay in his tent. In the morning he discovered 11 eleven years old kids and 3 camp counselors who had hiked in during the night. Spent some time talking with them before hitting the trail at 9:00AM. Lunch was at Hazel Top Overlook where Carl ran into a guy that was the third person to recommend a side hike to Rapidan Camp where President Hoover spent his leisure time. Since the side hike was only 3.8 miles round trip he decided to take the side trip. He got to his planned camping spot at Big Meadows at 5:00PM on Friday to find no sites available so he got water and continued 3.8 miles to Rock Spring Hut. Since there was only one person at the hut Carl decided to stay in the hut. Wouldn’t you know it but at 11:00PM a father and son arrived at the hut. It seems folks like to arrive to huts late in the evening.

August 09, 2014 Miles 11 (including Stony Man Mountain) – Woke up this morning to good news/bad news. Good news-pack weight is lighter. Bad news-squirrel got into food bag that was hung on a bear pole. The squirrel seemed to like Snickers bars and wine. He ate all of the Snickers and chewed thru two wine flasks – one empty and one full – which created a huge mess. Fortunately it was an easy hike to Skyland where he was able to trash the food bag and the wine flasks. Carl was also able to have a burger and blueberry ice cream pie for lunch before hiking the Stoney Mountain trail back to the AT. The afternoon seemed to take forever and Carl was stung simultaneously on both calves by bees that had him doing a jig down the trail. The bites hurt for the first 4 or 5 hours. Carl arrived at Byrds Rest 3 hut at 4:45PM and decided to pitch his tent.

August 10, 2014 Miles 4.2 – Today is going to be a short day because of the longer days earlier so Carl didn’t start hiking until 9:00AM. He talked with another hiker for the entire uphill portion to Mary’s Rock where the best views, by far, presented themselves. The next two miles were all downhill to the parking lot where Lori was scheduled to pick up Carl the next day. Carl, after cleaning up a bit in the bathroom, decided to hike another mile further to Pass Mountain Hut. There he stayed in his tent again. Also at the site was a SOBO hiker (Blue Ribbon), a mother with 3 teenaged girls and 1 teenaged boy and a dog, and a novice hiker. The mother and two of the girls had hiked the entire AT last year. The novice hiker had lots of heavy gear, no way to purify water except for tablets, and only had 1 litre of water carrying capacity. He also had really bad blisters and nothing for them. Carl gave him a Nalgene water bottle to double his water carrying capacity and all of his Bandaids and blister material. Trail magic always comes back to someone who gives it. I also gave him a trail name – “Novice”.

August 11, 2014 Miles 1.2 – No reason to hurry out of camp today but everyone indicated the night before they were sleeping in so Carl got up quietly, packed up, had a bar and headed out at 7:30AM. Hiking as slowly as possible he still arrived at the pick up point – Panorama Pass Rest Area – at 8:00AM – a full four hours before Lori was scheduled to arrive who, fortunately, arrived two hours early.