A Stay at the PATC Jarmin Gap Cabin

Jarmin Gap Cabin

Jarmin Gap Cabin by “Shaupie” – From the cabin log book

February 5-7, 2022

Cold. Arrived at Jarmin Gap cabin on the evening of February 5th right as the sun was setting. It was a steep climb on a single lane road that transitioned from asphalt to gravel and back to asphalt 2 or 3 times. I can see the benefit of having a 4-wheel drive vehicle on the trip up the mountain, especially after entering the gate. The road after the gate is especially steep and when we arrived the ground was covered in old snow and ice. 4WD was mandatory to make it up the ice-covered road unless we wanted to walk the last half mile. The road was more open and clearer that I was anticipating which made for easy navigating with my F250 crew cab truck.

Day Two – Parked in front of the cabin

We parked in front of the cabin which made for easy unloading of packs, food, and firewood. This cabin has an abundance of downed trees surrounding it which would make for easy gathering. Being a new cabin and not knowing the lay of the land, we decided to bring enough for 2+ nights. Speaking of firewood, the wood burning stove is a medium sized model and barely fits 4 pieces of wood. Be ready to get up a couple of times in the night to add wood to the belly of this stove. In comparison, the stove at Argow cabin (another PATC cabin) is huge and easily holds all the wood needed for a comfy night.

Getting the wood stove going was priority one because the temperature was 20°F and dropping. We had the cabin warmed up to about 55° in about 3 hours and had it up to 75° by 10pm. For that first night, we played a game where one player picks an object to draw, and everyone must take their best shot at drawing it. Then the group then takes a vote as to who won that round. No score is taken, but it’s a fun game to see how everyone interprets an object and to see just how bad I am at drawing.

The results of the drawing game

The cabin itself is a one-room model that sleeps six – there are two bunk beds and one futon sofa that can sleep two. Jamie, Lexie, and I occupied the bunk beds, while Lillian grabbed the futon. The bunks come with sleeping pads, but you should bring your own bedding & pillows or sleeping bags – as these are not provided.

The bunks

The kitchen is very well equipped! It has a two-burner propane stove (with propane supplied by the PATC), all the kitchen silverware, plates, cups, bowls, and cookware that one may want on a stay to this cabin. Some of the pots and pans have a non-stick coating so we were extra careful with the metal utensils to not scratch them. There is also a cast iron pan that will get more and more seasoned with each passing year of cabin use. The propane stove has great flame adjustability and it was a joy to use. For coffee lovers, you’ll find a percolator in one of the cabinets if you choose to use it. There is also a tea kettle that we kept going all weekend to provide hot water for hot chocolates, tea, coffee, and washing dishes.

There are two closets containing miscellaneous items that are handy around a cabin. One closet contains a bow saw, maul, and hatchet; while the other closet contains some fire-starting material, broom, mop, and dustpan. A steel trash can with lid is stored under the kitchen counter.

The dining table is about 6 feet long by 2 ½ feet wide and can seat 6 people comfortably around it on two fine pine benches and two chairs at the table’s ends. The table appears to be made of solid pine and of a style that I would love to make for my own home.

Jarmin Gap Cabin – bunks, table, and futon bed

While this is a primitive cabin, there are some battery powered lights and lanterns provided by the PATC and come in very handy. One of them is above the two-burner stove, another in a closet, and we found a third in the outhouse. Push them to activate and push again to turn them off. You may want to tuck 3 or 4 D-cell batteries in your gear for the provided lights, as I didn’t see any spares in the cabin. These lights are great for playing Settlers of Catan when the sun goes down!

Outside of the cabin is a very spacious deck with a fire pit nearby. A sawhorse can be found to help with cutting any firewood into stove-sized pieces. Pro-tip… place the provided wheelbarrow under the end of the sawhorse and let the sawed off firewood fall into it. We spent only about an hour cutting firewood and we doubled the stack of wood that was provided at the time of our arrival. There is a LOT of downed trees that can be used for firewood all around the cabin. I imagine that it will take years of PATC renters to diminish the supply.

The ‘Front Yard’ at Jarmin Gap cabin

On day two I noticed an abundance of birds outside of the cabin. I counted over 30 (Robins…?) in the front yard and in the trees around the cabin. My attempt at getting a couple good photos from inside the cabin was hampered a bit by the cold…. So I was shooting through the glass windows instead. If anyone can help identify these birds, please let me know and I’ll update this blog! (thanks!)

The outhouse is not far from the cabin. In fact, you will pass it on your left when you make your way up the road to Jarmins Gap cabin. Being practically brand-new, it was very clean. The plastic toilet seat didn’t stick to anyone’s bums despite being used at 15° F on Saturday morning.

Jarmin Gap Cabin outhouse (cabin in the distance)

Within the PATC information pack they mention that a spring can be found at the Calf Mountain shelter; about ½ mile uphill from the Jarmins Gap cabin and that it can be reached by bushwhacking a trail on the way there. While we did find the spring, the directions are not entirely accurate.

Don’t bushwhack a trail behind the cabin… we did, and you will end up on private property that is marked as such. Instead take the easier path of walking out to the dirt road you drove in on and walk uphill. After 75-100 yards you will come to what looks like a dead end and the private property will be marked on your left.

From Jarmin Gap Cabin, walk uphill on the dirt road until you see these posted signs… turn right at the dead end and look for the Appalachian Trail.

At this dead end, look to your right and find the sign that marks a property boundary for the Appalachian Trail. Not 15 feet past this sign is the Appalachian Trail.

Appalachian Trail boundary marker – walk past this sign and you’ll be on the AT

To get to the spring at Calf Mountain Shelter, take the trail ‘Northbound’. This will be to your right as you climbed the mountain on the dirt road. From here you will walk until you see this sign:

Sign pointing to the Calf Mountain shelter & spring

After you turn left on this spur trail, you will walk about 2/10 of a mile and you’ll see a clearly marked sign for a spring on your left that looks like this:

Hard to miss…. & hard to follow… – look left at this sign for the Calf Mountain Shelter spring

Fill up your water here, fresh from the mountain!

Calf Mountain Shelter spring in February – flowing strong!

A little further past the spring is the Calf Mountain shelter which is provided for AT through hikers.

If you are not familiar with the Appalachian Trail, it is a footpath the runs from Springer Mountain in Georgia all the way to Mount Katadin in Maine.

One nice hike that you can do from Jarmin Gap cabin is walk to the top of Calf Mountain for a spectacular view! We camped at the top of Calf Mountain in late April (or was it early May?) of 2021. The sunrise isn’t great, but the sunsets can be nice. There is a large clearing that allows breathtaking views to the North. You can reach the summit of Calf Mountain by hiking ‘Southbound’ along the AT for I think 1.5-2ish miles. This hike is all uphill, but not exhausting for those in shape.

I want to thank the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club and its volunteers for making this cabin available for renters! You’ve done an amazing job at renovating this little gem. The small touches like the sink that drains outside, push-to-touch lighting, the propane stove, and spacious deck make this cabin a very nice PATC addition. Well done!

Here are some other photos from the trip:

Here are the log entries so far:

Weekend Getaway to the PATC Tulip Tree Cabin

It was mid September and I really needed a break. I had no vacations or trips in what seemed like an eternity. Maybe it was only 3 or 4 months, but who’s counting… So I wandered on over the the patc.net website and booked the Tulip Tree Cabin for a weekend stay the coming December.

Why December? Well, because most of the nicer and easy-to-access cabins/houses that are offered through the PATC (Potomac Appalachian Trail Club) get booked as soon as an opening becomes available. The first available date (actually the only available date) was the weekend before Christmas on December 18-20. Being as I needed a getaway, and this was the only weekend available, and the cabin looked really rustic and all – I booked it.

It’s sometimes hard to make a reservation for a rustic cabin without electricity when the weather can be a large unknown. In thinking about the last couple of years, we have had very little snow, and even less in the month of December. So what could possibly happen? Snow of course! December 16th a storm dumped about 10-12 inches of snow in Luray, Virginia. Yikes. Frigid cold, too! Perfect timing for our trip!

I almost called the trip off, but trips like this are what makes memories. It’s not the perfect weather, sun is always out type of trip that people reflect on in twenty years. Actually, the trips where something happens and that obstacle has to be overcome are the trips that make the story books.

So I packed the truck.

I took a vacation day on Friday to get a head start on the weekend. Along with all of the usual camping/cabin essentials, I threw a good stack of seasoned firewood in the bed of the truck to feed the belly of the wood stove when we arrived at the cabin. The kids and I left Waynesboro and headed north around 2pm – destination Luray, Virginia – Tulip Tree Cabin.

Summer time scenery around the outdoor kitchen – Image by Richard Heath via PATC.net

There was about 2-3 inches of snow in Waynesboro when we left and although it wasn’t snowing (the snow had ended a day prior) we were seeing more and more snow as we closed in on our destination. When we arrived at the turn off point, where the asphalt meets the gravel, we became a little worried because the gravel road was covered in snow! It did show signs of plenty of vehicle traffic from local residents.

I locked the truck into 4WD and started up. The going was slow and took about 15 minutes to cover the distance up to the Y where the road forked. To the right, is the Tulip Tree Cabin and Lambert Cabin. To the left is another PATC cabin called Huntley Cabin.

Cabin interior as viewed from the loft – via PATC.net

Now the issue at the fork is not which direction to go, because we knew we needed to go to the right. The issue at hand was the road… the road to the left was fairly well traveled while the road on the right was covered in 10 inches of fresh snow and exactly zero tire tracks. While I’m debating turning the truck around, I hear both of my daughters from the back seat say in an overly enthusiastic yell:

“ON-WARD!!”

Just like that, I turned the steering wheel to the right and headed up the unknown road hoping my ridiculously long crew cab F250 wouldn’t get into a jam on the very narrow road. I swear school buses have a smaller turning radius…

It wasn’t long and we were at the end of the road with a little sign that indicated we had made it to the parking area. The cabin wasn’t in view because it’s about a tenth of a mile walk from the parking area to the cabin. This, we knew, because the PATC did inform us of this on their website. Knowing that this trek was in front of us, and we had a weekend sized stack of firewood in the bed of the truck to keep warm, I did manage to bring a wheel barrow to haul our good to the cabin. Good thinking.

One of the many wheel barrow loads hauled from the truck to the cabin!

What we didn’t know, is that there was a 15 foot wide (give or take) creek that crossed our path to the cabin about halfway there. This was a bit of a surprise, as it wasn’t mentioned anywhere that I recall. No matter. With the trusty wheel barrow, I hauled one kid at a time over the soggy ground to the other side. This worked well because the kids didn’t get squishy wet feet on day one, and I certainly didn’t mind because I was able to use my knee high muck boots that are kept in the truck.

The cabin itself is very cozy and situated in the woods about a tenth of a mile from the parking area. The walk isn’t bad, even in the snow! Once inside, we promptly stoked a fire in the wood stove to get the cabin warm while we unpacked our gear.

The wood stove is located right in the middle of the cabin and next to the kitchen area.

There is a fireplace on the right, with the wood stove in the middle of the cabin, next to the kitchen space.

The fireplace to the right when you walk in.

Two twin over twin bunk beds are located on the left as you enter the cabin. Also on the left, is a stair case that leads to a spacious loft overlooking the kitchen and dining area.

Sleeping arrangements in the loft include two queen beds side-by-side. Accommodations for a total of eight people are in the Tulip Tree Cabin.

The stay for the weekend was a lot of fun! There were eight of us in total, which includes Jamie’s sister and her family. With no cell service around, it was a great opportunity to talk and play games on the picnic table, cook over the wood stove and enjoy some adult beverages. The wood stove kept us plenty warm even at night when the temperature dropped to around 18 degrees.

A non-battery powered game to fuel the kids’ entertainment (thanks Mark!)

This cabin was a very pleasurable stay for us. If you would like to book it, click here:

https://www.patc.net/PATC/Cabins/Individual_Cabins/Tulip_Tree.aspx

Keep in mind, that PATC club members have the largest selection of cabins to choose from, and joining the club is worth every penny.