Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Bacon, Finally.

The road is across Virginia and into the Shenandoah Valley. I’m pleased that the car doesn’t struggle to climb up into the mountains with all the added furniture and gear. As I pass into Shenandoah National Park the ranger asks if I’ll be visiting other parks in the coming year and might want an annual pass. I give an emphatic “Yes!” and tell him about my planned trip while he punches my new pass and gets my signature.  
I hike a trail down to dark hollow falls; a series of 5 or 6 cascading waterfalls where the Hogcamp Branch of the Rose River trips down 70 feet of basalt. I follow the trail to the base of the falls and then cross over the water and climb the slick rocks back up to the top. The sun is behind the trees just over the top of the highest fall and it illuminates a cloud of vapor emanating from the river and drifting into the woods. As I’m hiking back up the trail I stop to watch a butterfly and a bee fight over a thistle on the side of the trail. The bee delivers a few quick blows and the delicate butterfly retreats to another thistle only to be chased and bullied by the bee again.
I camp up on top of loft mountain in a campsite with a firepit where I can try out my stove. My stove is a simple alcohol burner set under a metal grate. I fill the burner up with antifreeze and ignite it. The flame is nearly clear and difficult to see even in the fading light but I can feel the heat. I cook some bacon and toast in a pan over the flame and have a good dinner with some sliced tomatoes. I notice that as I crouch over the stove I begin to feel light headed from the fumes of the burning alcohol and make sure to stand upwind of the burner as I finish cooking the rest of the bacon to save for breakfast the next day.

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