Sunday, December 1, 2019
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(All hikes are subject to change at any time)
Benton MacKaye Trail
Thursday, April 4, 2019
Day One: 3.8 Outcasts Total Miles: 2418
VA 670 to VA 601
Day Two: 11.2
VA 601 to USFR 644
Day Three: 9.9
USFR 644 to Little Brushy Mt.
Day Four: 4.5
Little Brushy Mt. to VA 610
Total Miles: 29.4
This hike we started by leaving our car at the Quarter Way Inn in Ceres, VA. Tina met us at the door with a welcoming smile. We got a tour of the old farm house which is a must if you are in the area.
We used Bubba (276-730-5869) for our shuttle driver who took us back to Teas Road to start our hike. It was a cool windy afternoon, but the sun was shining beautifully.
We started the climb up Pugh Mt. and then made camp up on VA 601. There was a lady Southbounder camped there for the night so after visiting we went across the road a ways and set up camp for the night. We had us a campfire, ate, and took some cough medicine under the stars.
We got up and did us some walking today. We checked out the fancy Partnership Shelter which has a shower and a view of the lake below. We saw two day hikers near the Mount Rogers NRA Headquarters. We climbed Brushy Mt. and Locust Mt. today and then headed to the Chatfield Shelter, which is not hammock friendly. We crossed USFS 644 and found a place to hang for the night. It was another beautiful night under the stars.
I saw for the first time in my life, a comet hitting the atmosphere and exploding. It was awesome and shot flames every which direction. I tried to point it out to Marco, but it happened too fast. That night the owls talked to us after we were in our hammocks.
We got packed up after breakfast and headed out. We got to checkout the Lindamood Schoolhouse along side the trail. A Baptist church had stocked it for thru hikers with drink, food, and hygiene supplies. It got to shorts and tee shirt weather today. Lots of beautiful scenery until we got to US 81 dodging traffic. Gotta do what you gotta do.
We ate lunch at the cow pasture after VA 617 and saw another Southbounder. We filled up with water after crossing the cow pasture and took advantage of the water with a quick bath. Davis Path Campsite is the location of an old shelter. The privy is still there and a picnic table, but no water. After that we climbed Little Brushy Mt. which really is not little! Especially after loading up with extra water.
We found us a campsite for the night on top and had another great evening around the campfire.
After leaving camp and going down the mountain, as we were hiking through a rhododendron tunnel, I saw a deer standing right in the middle of the trail just looking back at me. She waited until I got her picture.
We finally found what we were looking for. The quarter of the way sign. It is located at Crawfish Valley just before the side trail. Someone had painted out the mileage each way to Maine and Georgia, but it was still the quarter way mark.
After that we climbed Big Walker Mt. and down to VA 610. We added a quarter mile going back to the Quarter Way Inn where we had another great visit with Tina before heading to Waffle House.
Thursday, March 14, 2019
Day One: 3.0 Outcasts Total Miles: 2388.6
US 58 to spring
Day Two: 11.0
Spring to Damascus 2.0
Connector trail 0.5
Massie Gap to Old Orchard shelter 8.5
Day Three: 8.0
Old Orchard shelter to Dicky Gap trailhead
Day Four: 8.2
Dicky Gap trailhead to VA 670
Total Miles: 30.2
This hike we used Sundog Outfitters for our shuttle service.
We had our shuttle drop us off at US 58 to make up for our early departure from last hike to avoid the storms. We hiked to a spring just before the downhill into town and made camp for the night. The next morning we hiked to Sundog Outfitters and had them shuttle us to drop off the car at VA 670 and then take us back to Grayson Highlands and drop us off.
With the weather a 100% better than last hike, there were more people out and we enjoyed the views as we hiked across the top of the mountains and balds to the Scales. We got to see the wild ponies again and then headed down to the Old Orchard shelter for the night. When we got there we saw eleven hammocks swinging in the trees. A group of college students from Missouri were doing an overnight backpack. We got to visit a little bit before we set up our camp down the hill from them. The Old Orchard shelter is a log shelter with no chinking so you might want to think about that if you are planning on staying in the shelter.
We got up a little later today as we didn't have as far to go. The students had gotten up at 6am and headed out. It was another beautiful day for hiking. We stopped at the Hurricane Mt. shelter for lunch, but did not climb up to the actual shelter. We set up camp at the unmarked Dickey Gap trail for the night. Troy and I headed back to the last spring to get water instead of taking the trail down to the river which was rather steep. Of course the next day we found that just up the trail was another spring which would have been a lot closer.
We got off for a good start today. The weather got warmer and we had to go to shorts, but no complaints there. More hikers today as well. We got to see the Comer Creek Falls and got to see a couple of deer today. Our plans were to stay at the Trimpi shelter tonight, but we got word of storms coming in so we hiked on the the car. This is the first hike a quite a while that nothing came down from the clouds on us so we were quite excited.
Friday, February 15, 2019
Day One: 3.5 Outcasts Total Miles: 2358.9
Connector trail 0.5
Massy Gap to Thomas Knob Shelter 3.0
Day Two: 6.6
Thomas Knob shelter to Whitetop Mountain road
Day Three: 9.8
Whitetop Mountain road to Campsite by pond
Day Four: 12
Campsite by pond to Damascus
Total Miles: 31.9
This hike we used Sundog Outfitters for our shuttle service.
Day one started out in a forty mile an hour wind and rain. We had a hard time just getting our poncho's on. Troy's pack cover blew off from under his poncho. In the tree line it wasn't as bad and we did get to see one herd of ponies. Once we got up on the rocks and flat land out of the trees, it was on. We had to walk at an angle against the wind on the way to the next rock formation. At one point while Marco and I were standing behind a rock formation, we saw Troy coming at us with his poncho over his head. He had to regroup before heading out again. The trail was under water most of the way one to three inches. It was a tough walk to the Thomas Knob Shelter and we missed all that beautiful scenery. Just before the shelter we saw two deer standing in the cloudy field next to the trail.
Once we got to the shelter and got the tarp across the entrance, we started unpacking and figuring what to dry out first. The temperature dropped fast that night calling for 23 degrees, but water froze instantly on the wood surface. We all slept cold that night and the wind shook the whole shelter every time it gusted. Part of the roof slammed as well.
We got up to extremely cold temperatures. After the bathroom break, I headed down to the water source sliding on the ice. We had icing issues with our filters. As long as you were actively filtering it was fine, but if you ever stopped it froze solid.
After breakfast we started out on the frozen trail. Slipping and sliding along the way. The wind never let down until sometime the during the night. Walking across the balds was a battle with the wind not to fall over and stay on the trail. There was lots of beautiful views as the sky was clear and we could see forever. We made it to Whitetop Mountain and set up camp before the road. The wood was wet so we had a hard time getting and keeping the fire going. We did start drying out boots and socks. That night the stars and moon came out in the calm and all was well.
With the wind gone, the hike turned out to be nice. Lots of views today. Even got warm. We met up with the Virginia Creeper trail today for a short spell.
We ended up camping next to a pond on the mountain. The only place for three hammocks was right at the edge. My hammock was actually over the edge of the drop off to the pond. We got a good fire going tonight and Troy actually got all of his stuff dried out.
I woke up to Marco getting out of his hammock. Then I heard something sliding down the bank and splash into the water. I just knew that my pack went swimming. I sat up and took inventory of everything. I looked down at the pond and didn't see anything in the water. I laid there wondering what it could have been. Then I heard a loud commotion and then a duck flew low level over my tarp. It must have been next to my hammock when Marco got up and headed down to the pond.
Today's hike was good with lots of views. We did walk a little while in the cloud mist. We saw the Creeper trail quite a few times. I had finally got a signal to talk to Lora and she warned us of the storm coming in. When we got a snack break, Marco said that he had lost a crown. Not a good time for that.
We continued on until we got to Hwy 58 where we made a decision to cross over to the Virginia Creeper trail and head to the car. We finished the last six miles and then headed to the 7 Trails Grill for some dinner.
Friday, January 11, 2019
Day One: 3.0 Outcasts Total Miles: 2327
Wilbur Dam Road to Spring
Day Two: 8.5
Spring to Iron Mt. Shelter
Day Three: 11.1
Iron Mt. Shelter to US 421
Day Four: 11.0
US 421 to Campsite
Day Five: 4.0
Campsite to Damascus
Total Miles: 37.6
This hike we used Sundog Outfitters for our shuttle service. We parked at the free parking lot at the library and they took us to Wilbur Dam Road to start our hike. It was a warm day and we got to the first spring right at dark. We got us a campfire going and enjoyed a pleasant evening.
We got up today which turned out to be overcast all day long with rain on and off all day. This whole section of trail to Damascus has wonderful views on the average day. Not today! We were in the clouds. We did get to see a couple of deer on one hill and a couple more at the Iron Mt. Shelter. There was a lot of downed trees and branches from a storm which we got to go around or through.
We got to the shelter for the night. The wind got to hollering so we didn't bother with a fire. Marco and Troy stayed in the shelter with Micky and I hung my hammock out in the wind. It blew all night and into the morning. The stars were amazing tonight!
The wind was blowing still this morning and blew all day. It didn't get into the higher 20's today. The sky was clear and we got lots of views as we hiked. We made it to US 421 and camped out on the roadbed heading to a cemetery out of the wind. The temperature dropped as the evening went on, freezing our water. We enjoyed a nice campfire and saw the stars again!
It snowed all night, but never accumulated anywhere. When we got up the frost was frozen in the air so you looked out and everywhere there were sparkles floating around. It was a beautiful morning. We could hear the wind blowing constantly all night long through the gap. We were grateful to be able to get out of that.
We battled the wind most of the day today. It never did get out of the teens for temperature. We enjoyed the none windy side of the mountain anytime that we got it. We found a place to camp just before the Tennessee /Virginia boarder. We set up camp and got the fire going to warm up. It was cold tonight, but not long for us. We enjoyed the evening around the fire listening to the coyotes and owls. When we went to bed there was frost on the inside of our tarps. Not a good sign!
Today was the day of celebration. We made it to the Tennessee/Virginia boarder or for Troy the Georgia/Virginia boarder. Troy only agreed to hike the state of Georgia when we first started on the AT. He said he agreed to hike to Neal's Gap and I tricked him into agreeing to hike the state. Any which way, I never let him know that we left Georgia so he just thought that it was a very LONG state. Now I have to renegotiate with him to hike to at least the quarter way mark of the trail. We will see.
We hiked into the town of Damascus and had us a good greasy burger at the Damascus Diner. I highly recommend this restaurant.
For some odd reason the winter snow storm missed us and the snow was coming in tonight. That is unusual for sure!