Wednesday – Friday September 9 -11, 2015 Most Recent Post:
Lewis Mountain Campground The Days Following All Our Company and Parties
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
Cancer and eye doctor days. David to Cancer Center for the shot. I to my optometrist for the follow up to cataract surgery appointment. He says my left eye is about 20/25 now but my right eye problems are perhaps due to it being too far away in correction from my left. I should have had them both done for distance I continue to think. He gives me several contact lenses to try out and says to call him in a week or 10 days and let him know how they do. Then it’s off to order David’s glasses. He seems to lose a pair of glasses every year and this year it was about a month ago. His eyes have changed a great deal, another effect of all the drugs he’s taking, so he has a new prescription and hopes to pick up his $330 glasses next week. After all that fun there isn’t much more to say. Wish we were hiking.
It rains ALL DAY LONG. Seriously the ENTIRE day. Yesterday was lovely while we were in town of course and today it was clouds and rain, serious thunderstorm rain, all day. Tomorrow they are promising a day when I can get out hiking. It’s been over a week. I think that’s some sort of terrible record for me. Still raining all night. Sure hope they are right about tomorrow.
I feel really sorry for all the tenters who came for this rainy week-end. It poured down over night and frequently today. They all seem to have gone somewhere in their cars. I imagine the VC is packed. Or perhaps they are up at the laundry drying out their sleeping bags.
The rains have rinsed the world clean. It’s a bright blue, puffy cloud day. Everything is perked up and seriously wet. This includes some very narrow overgrown sections of the AT piece we hike today. FINALLY after more than a week, we are back on the trail.
We set out from the Ivy Creek Overlook which was a termination point for a previous hike. This time we are headed further North. The rock walls lining the overlook are very fine and we wonder how in the world in the early 1930’s did they get those enormous cornerstones into place.
It’s great to be back on the trail finally after over a week. We haven’t hiked since our last hike with Sharon last Thursday. That’s definitely the longest non hiking stretch since we’ve been here. Tired and weather are our obstacles.
But here we are today on this glorious day and Fall has definitely arrived here in the park. The trail is littered with leaves probably blown down by yesterday’s storm. Hope this doesn’t happen too often between now and mid October or the fall colors will all be on the ground.
Sections of the trail are like tunnels. We can see the delicate webs along the edges. Some still have raindrops.
The mosses seem to be covering everything. They and the ferns are particularly green. We see a puff ball mushroom which has exploded already. Another sign of fall.
There’s no destination here other than to walk along the AT for a while. It’s just a beautiful trail.
I have a great time all day taking pictures of the first big group of fall leaves we have seen this year. One of the things I love most about the East Coast Deciduous forests is their variety of trees. We don’t just have one or two trees of color, we have many. Today they are on the path, on the grass, on the rocks, on the bushes. The colors of fall – maples, sycamore, gum, oaks of several kinds, hickory just to name a few.
In just over a mile and half we see the marker for the spur down to Pinefield Hut. We’ve stopped at nearly every hut we’ve come near as we’ve walked the AT and this one will be now exception. We turn right. the marker says it’s only 165 yards away. That won’t change our mileage much.
The road turns into a trail by the time we reach the hut and take the stones steps over the stream up to it.
The log book is out of its designated location and just sitting on the shelter floor. I take it out and read the last few pages while David explores the privy.
Not sure who PB and J are or why the label is on the log. Below are some sections and pages I enjoyed. Someone is keeping up with politics, though there are no later responses to his question. Lots of folks have seen bears.
While I’m reading the log book, David discovers this is a “moldering” privy aka composting. We wonder how often some trail maintenance person has to resupply the wood chips. It’s the first composting privy we’ve seen in the park. Pretty neat, much less smell.
He returns to the hut and we return to the trail.
There we find tall wet grasses and narrow paths, big rocks and big trees.
I’ve gotten a bit ahead of David and when he comes around the corner he looks pretty tiny next to these trees. I look even smaller next to one a bit further on.
When David catches up, he tells me I’ve missed the great snake he saw. I’m really sorry about that, truly, I like snakes. They eat mice and rats whom I don’t like. Sharon has bear ‘carma’, as Jodee put it, (see this post) and David definitely has snake karma.
He saw the snake about on a stick about 7 feet off the trail and watched him as he slithered over to a tree and climbed it. Looks like a rat snake . He is definitely looks black but in the close up picture, which is unfortunately is a bit blurry, he has blue markings.
I wonder what he is looking for out on that limb? Birds’ nests with eggs or young are long gone.
Today’s section of the AT has 3 Skyline Drive crossings. When we get to the second of those I see someone sitting right by the post in Simmons Gap. He’s a south bound through hiker who left Maine in early June and hopes to be to Springer by early October. He’s from Richmond and is waiting for his girlfriend to drive up so he can spend the week-end with her. He’s drying out his gear and probably his feet from yesterday’s torrential rains while he waits.
We’re at about the 4 mile point when we see our first flowers of the day.
We’re headed up our longest up hill climb so I am ahead of David. When I see what looks like an unmark trail off to the right, I take it to see where it goes. It isn’t very long, maybe 1 or 2/10th of a mile and here’s what I find at the end. Someone’s house. The Shenandoah National park boundary sign is at the end of the trail facing the house and other markers run all along their driveway. Pretty sure this must be Flattop Mountain.
Not sure what the two buildings, shown in the second picture, off to the left of the house are.
They have a mighty nice secluded setting. Although they don’t have “no trespassing” posted, this is still private property so I snap a few pictures to show David and head back.
I return to the AT just as David is coming up the path. He tells me he thought I was a bear. I think he is disappointed.
I read in the guide to AT in the park that we would come on some rocks with a great view to the east. We determined that would be a great spot for lunch but they were supposed to be at the crest of the mountain and we’re down the other side and haven’t seen them.
Finally we just pick a place with two logs and find our second wildlife of the day in the leaf litter at our feet. This little snail is climbing steadily out to the of this branch on the ground with no where else to go but over the edge or back. How does he turn himself around with his house on his back and no parking lot or blocks to drive around? He’s moved all the way to the very edge by the time we leave.
And of course, within less than 5 minutes we start back up and find the described spot. Not at the top but on the edge. Do the people who write these guides actually walk these trails? I’ve asked this several times before. This incorrect description isn’t a function of how long ago the book was written. The rocks didn’t move off the crest.
Here’s the lunch shot that should have been.
We’re on the last leg of the trail now and I find another perfect seat for lunch and for two except my seat is a swing. It’s some grape vine but would it hold us both?
Shortly we’re seeing the drive again and as I come out of the woods at Powell Gap, there are apple trees with ripe apples. David can’t resist. He’s picked several when I suggest he try them to see how many he wants. My experience with abandoned apple trees is they turn wild and tart. these are clearly wild with their limbs draping down to the ground searching for the sunlight. We both take a bit. They aren’t tart but they really have no flavor at all. Such a shame for all the work the farmer, maybe Mr. Powell?, went to for years to keep these trees producing. We know from first hand experience just how much work that is.
7.82 miles, 19,838 steps for the day. We’ve just completed one of my last four hikes on the AT in Shenandoah National Park.
Good bye to Powell Gap our lowest elevation at 2295 feet.
We’ve walked up down, up down, and up down to get here and had a wonderful time doing it.