The Ruck

Bears Den Trail Center

Jan. 26-28, 2018

Directions Schedule Meals Extra Stuff More Info Nametags Program

Bears Den Trail Center
Nestled within the Blueridge Mountains and on the Appalachian Trail, lies historical Bears Den Lodge. Once a summer home for Washington physician Huron Lawson and his wife, opera singer, Francesca Kaspar, Bears Den is an enchanting stone lodge reminiscent of a European castle, complete with turrets and tower.

Built in 1933 by local stonemasons, the distinguished mansion is one of the most impressive hostels on the eastern region. Once used as Francesca's recital hall, the large common room boasts excellent acoustics and a magnificent stone fireplace. Among the forested acreage are several lawns and quiet escapes. A main attraction and only a short stroll down the trail, Bears Den Scenic Rock Overlook offers a stunning view of the Shenandoah Valley.

Hostel Rates

$31 per persont, per night includes $5.00 day usage fee. $5 day use fee for others. Camping near lodge $12PP, downhill $9PP
.More Info on hostel here










5:00 pm.


Check-In- Rucksters arrive and check in at the hostel. If you have a dish, just bring it right on into the kitchen (best room in the house). Nametags and 2 sign-in sheets are at the front desk.

Any presenter’s will also check-in at this time; an additional sign-in sheet will be available at the front desk as well. Make yourself at home and have fun. Don’t be shy. Explore.


6 pm


Dinner- Pasta, meatballs, the works !




7:00 pm


Boundary Workshop, Ron Bungay,“Yellow Shoes”



8:00 pm


ALDHA’s Search and Rescue Team– Ken Bunning


9:00 pm


Long Distance Backpacking– Jim Fetig



7:00 am


Breakfast – Blueberry pancakes, eggs, etc. bring what you like and share and be sociable 


9:00 am





Hikes on the AT- Form little groups and have a good time, be back for lunch!


Boundary Work Trip - Ron Bungay





Lunch -Pot Luck - Bring your favorite soups, chili, lunch platters. Don't be shy! Its lots of fun




Pack Tuckerization - Sam Clinard, "Clifford" 2015 AT Thru-hiker, bring your pack and Sam will go though it with you. For those hardy ( or foolish) souls who are willing to volunteer to have their packs lightened. This is a good time to find out what YOU DO NOT NEED on the trail.This can be funny and entertaining but its not recommended for those with fragile egos!


3 pm


THRUHIKING BULL SESSION - Here is your chance to ask those of us who have completed the Appalachian Trail ( sometimes multiple times) your questions. This is done at every ALDHA Gathering and it is your chance to get the AT Class of 2017 started on the right foot. Or maybe just listen to former thru-hikers expound on how to do it- or not to do it! All thru-hikers are welcome to offer advice. We will even allow flip-floppers, South Bounders and section- hikers!




Personal Hygiene-Clean Up Your Act-Jim Fetig




RUCK Feast -Ruck Pot Luck Feast- You know how it works, everyone brings a dish, and we all eat well and leave lots of leftovers for Glen, Bear's Den Hostel Caretaker. Check the google spread sheet for ideas.


7 pm


Gear Raffle- benefits PATC, ATC and ALDHA




ALDHA 2017– Ron Burger



8 pm


RPHVC Updates– Tim Messerich

8:30 pm


Updates from the Appalachian Trail Conserv-ancy-Laurie Potteiger. Catch up on the latest trends, in-cluding thru-hiker stats, a new recommendation in re-sponse to increasing bear-human interactions, and the 14 State Challenge.


9:00 pm


Thru-Story, A Season on the Appalachian Trail- Shane O’Donnell







Breakfast – organize one, or breakfast on your own.



CLEANUP - Grab a broom, wash dishes, pack up, and clean the hostel. If we leave it dirty, we won't be welcomed back! As the old saying goes- " I'm not your momma, clean up after yourselves." The caretakers really appreciate the help and your efforts will be noticed.





Meals are an organized potluck - Your participation is important

You, the Ruckster, bring all meals and utensils. Information on the menu, utensils and volunteer clean up is available to you on an interactive Google Spreadsheet.

Saturday evening RuckFeast.

 The kitchen is complete with all appliances, pots, pans, metal utensils, all kitchenware and eating utensils. As for the Ruck utensils, we ask that you donate all eating utensils (defined below).

 Food donationsWe welcome all dishes!  Any dish should be precooked and kept cold. There are 2 refrigerators at the hostel and they fill up fast. Long cooking meats should be precooked as well. We welcome any dishes from your ethnic and cultural dishes to good old baked ham or fried chicken (hint). Your ideas, your creation…. it’s welcome here!  We ask that you use the interactive Google spreadsheet, click here.

 DessertsOne thing about a Ruck…you get to stare at the many desserts. Folks are real creative with desserts here, so bring your very best to just plain biscuits. We don’t care – we love it all, and we appreciate it all!  We once had a bake-off, you can organize one too.

 Eating utensils and paper productsThese are the items we are in need of: Paper plates (non-styro preferred), paper bowls, plastic forks, spoons, knives, napkins, paper cups, large and sturdy trash bags, foil, plastic wrap, large Ziplocs, paper towels.

Misc. Dishwashing liquid, brillo pads, scrubbies.




Campfire –if some would like to organize this please contact Mike Wingeart at 443-791-9196





Volunteering and Clean Up-  For anyone interesting in clean-up and or volunteer work during the weekend, please get in touch with Wing-Heart (email below)?




Bears Den Trail Center
18393 Blueridge Mountain Road
Bluemont, VA 20135


Northern Ruck on Facebook


For more information – 

email Wing-Heart with any questions, ideas or concerns or go to the Facebook group.


Sign Up for a Nametag and save those embarassing moments!

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