Shenandoah Mountain-Ramsey's Draft, VA Backpacking Trip

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Before it occurred, this trip was touted on the Yahoo! listserv as the 'Ramsey's Draft II' trip, given that the Rag Tag Rangers had already done a backpacking trip in Ramsey's Draft on 23-25 July 2004. However, in the end, it actually became a 'Ramsey's Draft I' trip for half of the participants, and a 'Shenandoah Mtn. Trail I' trip for the other half.

Friday, Oct. 1st, 2004- Three of the trip participants . Chris Di L, Frank M, and Mike C - met up at and stayed at the Shenandoah Mountain Inn the night before the start of the hike. This motel is in West Augusta, VA, about 20 miles West of Staunton and just two miles away from the Ramsey.s Draft Wilderness, on US Route 250. Staying at a motel the night before the hike that was so close to the trailhead turned out to be a great alternative to having to car camp. And this Shenandoah Mtn. Inn was certainly 'quirky', its run by a retiree who lives by himself and is quite deaf.

Saturday, Oct. 2nd, 2004- Bill and Chris I and Charlie J met up with the rest of the group at the motel just before 9 AM on Saturday. All the participants enjoyed a hearty and very reasonably priced breakfast of ham, eggs, toast, potatoes and bottomless coffee, prepared by the Inn owner, before setting off to start the hike. Hike started at the Mountain House Picnic Area. At the parking lot it was evident that Ramsey's Draft still had a lot of water from Tropical Depression Jeanne which dumped 5 inches of rain on the area 5 days before. To start, the participants took the Road Hollow Trail, which connects to the Shenandoah Mountain Trail after 2.6 miles. This trail is in much better shape than the Bald Ridge trail, which was taken in the July 23-25 Ramsey.s Draft outing. Every so often, through the trees, one could get good views of neighboring ridges. Only 'hiccup' was that in mid-afternoon it rained for about 90 minutes, but luckily it stopped by 3 PM. After hiking about 5 miles on the Shenandoah Mountain trail, the Ramsey's Draft trail was taken (~ 1 mile) to arrive at the camp site. This time camp was set up at a site different from the late July outing, which was right by Hiner Spring. The site used this time was just a couple hundred feet up the trail. Since there was so much recent rain, a water source wasn't a problem, a creek was flowing very close by. Everyone arrived at camp by 4 PM. There was plenty of time to set up camp, eat, and enjoy the great campfire made by Frank M.

Sunday, Oct. 3rd, 2004- At breakfast on Sunday a debate emerged as to what type of wildlife had frequented the campsite on Saturday night. There was no doubt that there were a lot of deer, they were seen around the campsite since dusk. But at 3 AM Mike C thought that he heard a bear hovering around his tent, and at that same time Chris DiL thought that she heard a bear belch, through her earplugs. However, the breakfast debate was whether or it there was really a bear at the site over night, or if it just was all the deer. Another possibility is that it could've been the solo camper that Mike C saw at the campsite by Hiner Spring. Anyway, this will remain as the one mystery of this trip. For the hike back to the cars on Sunday, Bill, Chris and Charlie decided to brave the high waters in the Draft and took the Ramsey.s Draft trail, with its many stream crossings, since this was their first time in the Draft and they wanted to see the hemlocks there. (Hence 'Ramsey's I' for Bill, Chris, and Charlie.) Since Chris DiL, Frank M, and Mike C had already hiked the Ramsey's Draft trail, they took the well-graded Shenandoah Mountain trail (and Road Hollow trail) back to the car. (Hence, Shenandoah Mtn. I. for Chris D, Frank, and Mike.)

Everyone was back at their cars by 1:45 PM, and all had a great weekend outing.

Christine Di L

More Pictures

Group picture at the beginning of the hike
  Group picture at the beginning of the
  hike.  By Charlie Johnson
Road Hollow & Shenendoah MTN trails
  Road Hollow & Shenendoah MTN
  trails.  By Charlie Johnson

Around Frank's fantastic campfire
  Around Frank's fantastic campfire.
  By Charlie Johnson
Deer at our campsite
  Deer at our campsite.
  By Charlie Johnson
Huge trees along Ramsey's Draft
  Huge trees along Ramsey's Draft.
  By Charlie Johnson




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