Three Ridges Wilderness Area
Appalachian Trail and Mau-Har Trail
27-29 April 2007
Three Ridges via AT and Mau-Har Trails
Map and Hiking Info from HikingUpward.com
|Friday, 27 April 2007|
|I left right from work just after 2pm and STILL hit DC traffic! It should have been a 3 hour drive but traffic added over an hour. And to top it off, I wasn't actually planning on backpack while I'm up here so I didn't have all of my gear with me...like a stove. So I had to stop by the Ft Belvoir commissary for some MREs on the way out...didn't get to Reed's Gap parking area until about 7pm. Then I had to repackage the MREs and make some final pack adjustments before hitting the trail.
This picture is the first whiteblaze in the clearing by the parking lot.
|There was a slight chance of rain but I didn't get any sprinkles until Saturday evening. The clouds made for some good views...but this is the best I could do with the crappy disposable camera.|
|My homemade backpack during a break. Just a guess...it weighed ~20 lbs at the start, including the heavy MREs and water.|
|The sunset was pretty nice...much better than it looks in this picture.|
|Sunset again. Ignore the ugly mug in the foreground...don't know how that idiot got in there.|
|I decided to stay at the Maupin Field Shelter, near the intersection of the AT and Mau-Har, on Friday night. As I approached the intersection, I saw about 10 tents in the clearing next to the AT...looked like a church group. I checked the map, grabbed a snack, and headed down the trail to the shelter about 100 yards away through the woods.
Several thru-hikers were sitting around the fire when I walked up...they invited me to sit, so I set up my hammock before it got dark then sat down for a quick snack (Peanut Butter and a bagel). This was a great group of guys...they had just made a beer run so it was a pretty late night as far as thru-hikers go...we went to bed around 11pm, I think. There was Scoops (made up a song about the "B double-E double-R U N"), Bobsled (used his backpack as a bobsled down Clingman's Dome), Joe from Iowa (he's...um...from Iowa), Trocar (funeral home director...apparently a Trocar is an instrument for embalming people), Professor (has three undergrad degrees and is working on a masters), Conquistador (hiking to Spain instead of Maine), and Fanny Pack (um...carries a fanny pack) showed up later with all kinds of info about the AT.
So as I said, I wasn't planning on a backpacking trip while I'm in DC. I brought some stuff b/c I was planning on going to Ed Speer's Hot Springs campout...a car camping trip with restaurants nearby. So I didn't have my water treatment. I asked the guys how clean the spring was behind the shelter. "How long are you out for?" "Three days." "You're good...it's at least a four day spring." Fingers crossed...we'll see how I feel next week!
And that church group. Sounds like they were having a good time...I could hear girls giggling and boys screaming well after I went to bed. And then the air horn started. I never realized that, even in the woods, girls have to go to the privy together...
I was gonna sleep w/o my tarp, but it was so windy that I woke up at 2am to put it up...that's when I figured out that the trees I picked were too close for the tarp's ridgeline! Rookie mistake! But it was close enough, so I just tightened down the corners and it was all good. Still no rain, which was nice.
|Saturday, 28 April 2007|
|Here's my campsite. The group behind the tarp came walking through right about the time I got out of bed...7:30am or so. Lounge around and talked to the thru's a bit, quick breakfast of MRE crackers and jelly, and I left southbound on the Mau-Har at about 8:30am. (The Mau-Har is the blue blazed trail on the map.)|
|Maupin Field Shelter...legendary for its Biker Mice of the AT. That's why I don't sleep in shelters...|
|The Mau-Har follows Campbell Creek streambed for most of its 3.4 miles. It has several ups and downs but isn't a tough trail...and it's full of little cascades like this. Definitely a good trail, but I would have had better views going northbound.|
|Another cascade. Reflection at the top courtesy of the crappy disposable camera.|
|At 1.9 miles in, I came to a big campsite right on the edge of the river. From that site, there's a yellow-blazed trail about 200 yards long leading to a good-sized waterfall. Here's the pool at the top...I wanted to go for a swim but it wasn't quite warm enough.|
|And the waterfall with the pool at the top. I had a quick snack on a rock outcropping overlooking the whole thing...where I took this picture from. What a view!|
|Brand-new bird home...I'll have to look up what kind of bird nests like this.|
|I saw a handful of flowers starting to bloom...mostly Trillium and Rhododendron. Not sure what kind this is.|
I stopped for lunch at Harper's Creek Shelter and got some good info from a trail maintainer. Heh...he ALWAYS filters and uses pills in his water so he thought I was crazy for drinking w/o treating. Guess we'll find out. He also said there was a 30% chance of rain Saturday evening.
As I was eating my Chicken Cacciatore (MRE), the church group showed up. I was thinking about staying at this shelter, but the kids were closer than Friday night so I just signed the register and pressed on...didn't want to be kept up all night! It was only lunchtime anyway, so I decided to head back to Maupin Field Shelter via the AT.
Later I heard that the kids were pretty mellow...it was Hog On Ice and totally Boagus (and family) with some thru-hikers that stayed up late! HOI brought some pre-cooked brats for trail magic.
|I took this pic right around Chimney Rock...then just after Chimney Rock I saw a guy in a Whiteblaze t-shirt. "I have a shirt like that. I'm Jeff." "Just Jeff?" "Yup." "I'm Boagus...I recommended this trip to you!" That was cool...we probably wouldn't have said more than "Hi" if he wasn't wearing that shirt! His daughter and wife were hiking with him, and we chatted for a while about "myspace for hiking" (his daughter's name for Whiteblaze) and stuff. Mentioned all the garbage I'd been picking up from the church group...several folks I passed said the same thing. He was heading south to the shelter and I was going north, so we parted ways and pressed on.|
|One of the couples I passed mentioned the kids cutting switchbacks. This is what happens when 22 kids decide to make their own trail. The AT goes to the right of the rock...their trail goes downhill to the left.|
|AT on the left, their trail on the right. These will take a long time to repair...hope there aren't any hard rains before the trail maintainers can get up there.
I passed several of the kids along the way today...some of them were looking pretty good but I could tell that others were having a tough time. I asked several if they were having fun and they all said "yes." And these were the most polite kids I've met in a long time!
|AT on the left, their trail on the right.
Their packs were pretty big, though - one kid had a tent across the top of his pack that stuck out 18" on either side of his shoulders! Several of them had full-sized pillows, and a few were carrying their tents or sleeping bags in their hands b/c it wouldn't fit in their packs. Poor kids...barely making it on Day 2 and still had another day to go! Don't know how far they were going on Sunday...but the important thing is that they were having fun. Most of them, at least.
|My Saturday night campsite back at the Maupin Field Shelter. I went to bed just after dark...nothing exciting. I woke up to a sprinkle in the middle of the night...I like it when that happens. My tarp was almost dry by morning though.|
|Sunday, 29 April 2007|
|I remade my ring buckles just before bedtime Saturday night...here's a pic I took Sunday morning. I basically made the Air Core section longer so I could use tarp tensioners on the tarp ridgeline instead of tying the tarp separately. I'll explain more when I get the other page built.
Boagus and his son showed up as I was eating breakfast (PBJ bagel and MRE fig newtons)...he told me about HOI at Harper's Creek shelter. His son left before us, and Boagus and I ended up hiking back to Reed's Gap together...talked about all sorts of things. Great guy.
All-in-all, this was a great trip...thanks to totally Boagus for recommending it to me!