What we weren’t warned about was our shelter mate. A quiet mountain of a man, clad in denim jacket and shorts (his sodden jeans were hanging up to dry in the sodden air), Dave sat at the edge of the shelter platform, staring off into the rain. Home of the Innkeeper, Quarry Run is the “rival” shelter to Tumbling Run, both PATC maintainers trying to outdo the other. A picket fence, flowers in hanging planters, and a park bench by burbling run makes it feel like home. The old double shelters are now connected by a common roof with a picnic table in between and plenty of places to hang a pack, or hang your wet clothes. Which is what our fellow hikers were doing.
We met Amoeba, who looked vaguely familiar, and realized later we’d met before at Muskrat Creek in NC. Two young fellows had left Pine Grove Furnace two days before, headed southbound on a thru-hike. They were kind enough to move their sleeping pads to the far shelter and give us space in the rain; we were especially thankful given how hard it would be to put our not-so-freestanding tent on the tent platforms provided above the rocky ground.
Dave was the anomaly. He just sat there, quiet as could be, monstrous pack unopened, while John prepped our sleeping space. When the next hiker, Rhododendron, arrived, looking for room, Dave didn’t move. So Rhododendron pitched his tent in the rain on the wet platform, weighing down the corners with rocks. Pastor John arrived soon after. He hinted, and we asked directly, that Dave spread out his sleeping gear so we could share the shelter with Pastor John. No response.
While I was cooking dinner, John extracted some of Dave’s story. He’d come to visit an old lady friend, and she’d dropped him off at the trail. He was from “out west” and seemed a bit discomfited at his situation. We called it a night, and climbed into our sleeping bag, Dave still sitting on the edge of the platform.
As dawn broke – and it breaks early in Pennsylvania for us Florida folks – John wondered why I was snuggled up so close to him all night. He was against the log wall of the shelter! I did my best to slip out of the sleeping bag and make room for him. “I’m ready to get going,” I said, and pointed to our shelter mate. He was out cold. Despite having half of the shelter to himself – a half that could have been shared with our campmates who tented in the pouring rain – he’d rolled over onto my sleeping mat! As John broke camp, he had to pry it out from under the slumbering man.