After writing our entry on Sunday at the Harrisonburg library, we had intended to go to the store and get some food for our nights in the cabin, then head to the cabin before dark. The earliest we could arrive was 3:00. But we got a little distracted, as usual. We had noticed this place called "You Made It" across the street from the library where one can paint your own pottery (plus the Artful Dodger had coffee cups from this place), so we stopped over to check it out. Two hours later we had both learned all of the intricacies of pottery painting and had created our own coffee cup masterpieces. They take a week to be fired, but we are passing through Harrisonburg on the way to Cleveland next week, so this should work out perfectly.
So, we got a little late start to the cabin - stopped at the store, hour drive back into Shenandoah National Park and we're at the parking area around 5:30 or so. We spent a minimum amount of time packing our backpacks with everything we wanted to carry the mile and a half (down 1000 feet) to the cabin, plus Sam carried my guitar and I carried the cooler (!!??!!!) and our big camping stove. Let me just say that the cooler got really heavy REALLY fast.
We arrived at Corbin Cabin to find a set of ten backpackers sitting on the front porch with all of their food spread over the porch. This was a touch annoying since we had chosen this cabin to get away from trail traffic. A backcountry rule of Shenandoah is that there is no camping within a quarter mile of any of the rustic cabins, plus the standard no camping within 20 yards of a stream. These assholes set up their camp right around the cabin and right near the stream. We sort of subtly hinted that this was not allowed, but they didn't much seem to care. Strange since this was a group of backpacking "leaders-in-training" from Princeton. So, we just said to ourselves, "Ourselves, it's late and it's only one night", explored the cabin a bit, then had a fire in the fireplace and played guitar until bed.
Corbin cabin was built in 1910 by George Corbin, a Shenandoah Mountain Man, and he lived there until he was forced to leave in 1938 when the area became part of the national park. There are remnants of other cabins nearby, all friends of George's, plus a graveyard on the hill where George buried his wife. The cabin is very rustic and small, and it is located in a clearing in the middle of the woods. It's pretty damn hard imagining more than two people living here (George had kids) and it was very cool experiencing a portion of what it must have been like.
We woke Monday morning to the same super cool backpackers on our porch making all sorts of noise. Our irritation was quite evident when we greeted them, and they made off after hanging out loudly on our porch for another hour. The day was beautiful, though, and we read on the porch for a while. Later in the afternoon, we realized that we had left the vinegar, olive oil and maple syrup in the car, so we made the three mile round trip up to the ridge and back down for a little exercise. The beautiful weather deteriorated as we headed down, and we walked the last mile or so in the rain . . . to find more backpackers on the damn porch!!!! This was a different set, but I immediately told them that they shouldn't be camping nearby and that we were looking for some peace and quiet (dammit)! I had them take me to their leader ("take me to your leader", I said) and chatted with him to find out that the group was all middle schoolers and their teachers, and that he was incredibly cool. Plus it was POURING outside, and we knew that 1) there weren't many good areas nearby for 13 backpackers and 2) we had been in the same situation the week before. I started feeling bad, apologized for being such a dick and said they could keep their packs on the porch and stay out of the rain AS LONG AS they didn't wake us in the morning. These guys were incredibly respectful and quiet all night and all morning. Confrontation resolved!
The next day it rained all day! Some pretty incredible storms, so we hung out reading on the porch for a while, then when it got too cold, we made a fire in the kitchen stove and hung out reading indoors. Had some open faced turkey sandwiches and salad for dinner which were pretty damn tasty, another fire, more guitar and bed.
Wednesday was a pretty interesting day: we took our time getting up and having breakfast (some awesome french toast and sausage ala Sam), then decided to head out for a good sized day hike even though the sky was a bit gray. After two miles or so, it started drizzling, plus we realized that the loop we were planning was actually about 9 miles long. Plus we needed to stop at the car for more propane. So we altered our route a bit and climbed to the ridge on a different trail. About a mile from the top, it started raining pretty hard and a dense fog set in so that we couldn't see much of anything. Where we came out of the woods on Skyline Drive, we were about four miles from our car and five and a half from the cabin. We figured that we could hitch to our car, but weren't too sure about the foggy, rainy walk to the cabin. Fortunately, just across the street from the trailhead was the Skyland Lodge, so we walked up to the lodge and stepped in to dry off and try to talk someone into driving us up the road. This endeavor took all of two minutes: a younger couple walking into the bar overheard us, asked if we needed a ride, and the man and I headed back along Skyline Drive while Sam and the woman headed to the bar. Turns out these two (Tim and Richie) had been backpacking earlier in the week and had a hellacious time hitching a ride - someone had finally helped them out, and they felt they needed to keep the karmic energy flowing.
After Tim and I returned with the car, we all ended up sitting down together and having dinner and a couple of drinks. These two were visiting from Kentucky and had some pretty awesome stories about building their own cabin in the woods (they chopped the wood) and raising four raccoons at their house. Tim makes jewelry, and Richie runs a web site for her father who is in the pencil business. After dinner, Tim and Richie headed back to the Big Meadows Lodge where they were staying and suggested we come over for drinks if we weren't going to hike back to our cabin. The weather was pretty nasty still, so Sam and I contemplated for a little bit, then decided to hang out on the ridge for the evening, sleep in our car and walk back to the cabin in the morning. Which was a fortuitous decision: on the foggy, crazy drive to Big Meadows Lodge, a black bear ran across the road directly in front of us. Amazing!
So, we ended up hanging out for beers and music at Big Meadows until the place closed, then drove down the road a short distance, parked and jumped in back for some sleep. We can't decide if it was the sideways lean of the car, the fact that we hadn't zipped our bags together or the beer that caused us to sleep so poorly, but we were up at 5:45 and walking down to the cabin. Passed a couple backpackers on the way down, who, when asked, said they had camped by "the old cabin down there". Probably better that we weren't there! When we got to the cabin, we both slept for another couple hours. Then we made some breakfast, cleaned and closed the place up, hiked all of our crap back up to the ridge and drove to Big Meadows campground for the first shower in several days. And after that, we hit the road for Richmond to hang out with our friends Jim and Pam.