Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Maryland Rocks: Part 2- finding the loud

There are some things about backpacking that I could not seem to learn from books, but everybody knows....one of those is, beware shelters and campsites that are anywhere near a parking lot. What I mean here is that the campsites are usually spaced somewhere around 8 miles apart on the trail, the idea being, the ATC (the people that maintain the trail), figure you might need a place to sleep soon, and they'd rather you do it in a designated place, rather than creating another spot in the woods. The advantage is, that you will meet other hikers and perhaps not need to set up a tent. There would be an outhouse nearby and usually a good place to hang your food in other to make it difficult for animals to have a feast while you are sleeping.
When the shelter happens to be within a mile of a parking lot, which is usually a place where people can park and go hiking, this puts the shelter within reach of the recreational campers...which usually means 4-5 guys with a cooler of beer, hoping to have a big fire and a good time. 

As it turned out, the states we passed through on this hike thought it was a wonderful idea to have all of their shelters within easy reach of the parking lots and the locals were experiencing their first week of cool weather without rain. So....our very first night was a party, and by party, I mean the people camping near us had a party that lasted all night while everybody else but me was snoring. 

Now, there is snoring that is like a buzzing saw and I can get used to that, but this was more like somebody was strangling a horse, and did I mention there was a dog as well? Yes, our neighbors had a dog that looked like it was as fierce as any pitbull, but was pretty fearful of us and the women that were camping nearby as well. There would be the sound of an acorn dropping on the tin roof of the shelter and the dog would bark for  5 minutes after. It seemed like the snoring stopped while the dog barked. As least I was not worried about animals bothering us. At one point in the night, I had a vision of a bear walking up to the shelter with his paws over his ears, growling at me until I prodded the guy next to me to roll over onto his side.

Not only was there a loud inconsistent snoring and a dog, there was another loud snoring person on the other side, and I kept hoping for a cancellation effect, but it never happened. Instead, things got worse...you are probably wondering, what else could there be? We had a bunch of guys drinking around a campfire, Christmas lights strung all around their campsite and every once in a while, I could almost make out part of the conversation, like one word out of five or something. Snoring like I've never heard before in my life, and it was 11:30 at night. I was beginning to think sleep was never going to come, and it was so cold that only my nose was sticking out of my sleeping bag.
It was then that a sound I had noticed before in the background started coming into focus. At first I thought it was somebody way down the mountain riding a motorcycle and racing around the countryside, but it just kept going on and on. Finally, I recognized the pattern in the sound and couldn't believe it. Here I was, far from the loud city noises of home, the trains, the cars, the sirens, and where did I decide to spend my first night? Just up the mountain from the local dragstrip.
Yessir, I started paying more attention to the burnouts, checking how many seconds the engines ran up to 20,000 rpm and wondering if this was just time trials, or were they going to pit two cars against each other. I don't know what time the event was over, because I think I actually slept for a minute or two that night. I can still remember the point where I realized the partiers had gone to sleep and the racetrack had closed down for the evening and all I had to was listen to stereo snoring...life was good.

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