9.13.2013

33 Hours: Camp Life

The time was around late in the afternoon; the bright yellow corona was beginning to take on the fuzzy-mellow orange and the horse-mare clouds were just barely catching yellow-white strain of the slowly sinking Saturday sun. To satisfy my insatiable desire for adventure, I decided to spend the night at the Loft Mountain Campground, located with in the Shenandoah National Park. I nudged Ole Girl off of the Sky Line Drive and onto a steep road that transports campers to the Loft Mountain campground. We had never camped out with in a National Park but I knew they kept so many tent sites open for 'walk-ins', sites are $15- and bears frequent the campground...I reached the check-in booth, manned by three rangers, and waited my turn. I listened to the ranger explain to the camper in front of me some of the rules and miscellaneous information. While waiting one of the three rangers got me started on a small check-in form and by the time I was finished it was my turn to check-in. The ranger noted that I was riding a motorcycle and promptly found a tent site that would provide me with a bear-box for my food; he also explained 1) there are ten active bears in the area and 2) stow away anything that may have a scent (Would that include me I wondered?) in the bear box. Having paid and completed my paperwork, Ole Girl and I rumbled down the narrow, asphalt road that wound through the campground like a black snake, past starring campers. I was shocked at the number of tents, cars, RV's and smattering of motorcycles; the place was HUGE! I managed to find the parking stall for my assigned tent site, 33A. I dismounted and followed a steep semi-asphalt/dirt path that broke off into three other trails leading to tent sites. My site, 33A was the closest; there were two other sites that branched off to the southwest. I was disappointed by the proximity of my neighbor's tent site; only a thin line of young trees and knee-high vegetation separated us...I did a quick once over, played around with the bear box, and walked back up to Ole Girl and relieved her of her burden.
In the hopes of avoiding an awkward situation I placed ALL of my food and most of my gear within the bear box...

 My apologizes to my dear brother for failing to bring along a calling card to affix to said bear box! This box was so huge that, me, my wife and daughter could have squeezed inside! No lie! Look closely in the bottom picture and you can see my neighbor's tent in the upper right-hand corner...The proximity of the tent (33B) and area 34 fed my disappointment, I started to feel downhearted; I wanted some solitude! Before I got down to starting a pity-party, I decided to buy firewood and start dinner! The menu at the JetBoil Cafe consisted of the following: bean burritos, chocolate pudding and Italian roast coffee from Starbucks....
I squashed the pity-party with my dinner and amused myself by reading the various National Park handouts that were issued to me and chuckled to myself as I thought about what camp life would be like if the fellas were here or my family...the day was fading into the west and inky-black dusk was oozing through the trees in the east. I busied myself with the last campfire of the summer whilst my young neighbors discussed the finer points of eating hot dogs for dinner; later on one of the neighbor's, Ron, came  over to my site, introduced himself and humbly beseeched me for some lighter fluid; I had none, however, I offered the last of my torn up newspaper and cardboard to him for which he was grateful. By the time my missus and baby-doll called me, I was bathed in the light of my orange campfire; I assured them that I was fine and lamented about their absence. By the time I was ready for sleep, the moonless sky had taken on a blue tinge; I moved my tent around and removed the rain fly and crawled in. Above me were wisps of cosmic galaxies; the trees of the Shenandoah funneled my vision to the cosmic silver-white scenery. With the orange glow of my campfire waning I glided off into sleep all the while wondering if any members of the Ursidae family would visit during the night... 

2 comments:

  1. 10 active bears? I'm pretty sure I would have slept in the bear box.
    Looks like you had a killer time though. I'm glad I am not the only one who enjoys baked-bean burritos. We make them at home, mine with sour cream and jalapenos. Mmm...

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