Shenandoah

Loft Mountain

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A few weeks ago, I ended up having a three-day weekend from work.  When I got home that Friday afternoon, Katie and I made the last minute decision that we should go camping since I had Monday off. We had to swing by our storage unit to pick up most of our camping equipment, and for the most part we (mistakenly assumed) thought we had everything we needed. We called a few campgrounds to see about availability, and finally came across Loft Mountain. They had spots available, so we threw everything in the back of the car and head out on our way. Of course, we had to make a few stops, the first being at Bass Pro Shop where I picked up some LED lanterns.

One of the things that was in the very back of our mind was the fact Hurricane Matthew that was about to hit the VA coast.

Unfortunately we also decided to go during hurricanes Matthew’s weekend to hit the VA coast and it turned into a marvelously wet time. After I returned from work it was decided that a trip to the Shenandoah Valley was the ideal place. After calling around most camp sites told us that they were expecting to run out of site before the night was over.

(1) This lead us to rushing. We quickly packed and headed on our way. We stopped at Bass Pro to pick up some new LED lanterns. They worked very well and I would like to get some more.

We arrived at Loft Mountain and had it been sunny (as it was when left) it would have been an absolutely beautiful drive. As it were, there was a fog that limited visibility to ~2 meters in front of our car. At 5 to 15 mph the drive was extremely slow and a wee bit rough. By the time we arrived it was 11 P.M. and finding a camp site was not ideal.

Once we picked a spot, we setup our 4 man Coleman tent…in the rain. Wouldn’t you know it just happened to start raining harder. By the time we had setup the tent it was already soaked and the tarp did diddly squat to keep us dry. So we used the few towels we had to dry the inside and lay down for a well deserved night’s rest.

We found an apple tree with some wonderful large red apples. I was surprised as I did not realize apple season was not over but in full swing. What does that mean, well apples would fall and be ready to pick up with ease.To our dismay this also meant apples would fall on our tent all night long, and so we spent a rather restless, damp and cold night. We had two different sleeping bags, both on therma-rest pad.

(2) The pad was excellent and my sleeping bag was a 40F and Katie’s was a 15F. Needless to say she was pleasantly warm and I just about froze. We returned my bag the next week for hight quality bag.

Once we woke and talked to the Forestry Rangers we found we had to move. Apparently the site we had taken was reserved for that day already. So we packed up the wet tent, tarp and basically everything we had. After driving around for a few minutes we found a nice site that was near the edge of the range with a fantastic few of the valley, of which we would not see until the day we left and the rain had stopped.

(3) We setup the tent again in rain and tried to get a second tarp up for a bit of comfort and heat but a fire. A fire that we were never able to lite. We had a Coleman propane stove that we cooked and made coffee on.

(4) We walked the AT for a few hours before we began to get a bit chilly. It was a pleasant few miles but as I hadn’t brought any clothes that were either long sleeved or pants it was just not awesome.

The next day we backed up and left. It was completely sunny and the views were spectacular.

What did I learn:

  1. Never rush, make a checklist and stick somewhat to a plan. We aren’t ready for the fly by the seat of your pants camping.
  2.  Get the best sleeping bag you can afford and make the sure the temperature rating is correct.
  3.  The waterproof matches we had weren’t all that waterproof. They became moist and the fire sticks I had couldn’t lite the damp kindling. Always have a good back up if you are camping when it might rain. We have since bought the MSR XGK EX. I am very excited to use it in the next few weeks. The coleman is great for car camping but won’t work for backpacking. We also have the Solo wood stove Titan version but if it is wet good luck!
  4. Clothes….should have been self explaining and common sense but again I rushed thought I grabbed some and didn’t.

Equipment:

Coleman 4 man tent – more or less. Ours is probably 15 years old so not quite the same

Coleman Stove