Well, I survived almost 3 weeks of hell in those ridges of SW and central VA. Kinda hard on the old Dawg from the flatlands. Mostly my fault for not having gone to TN and doing some practice in the hills beforehand. Anyway, I did enjoy most of it even though it took 2 weeks to get fit.
Picked up from my last AT stopping point at Atkins/Groseclose AT crossing on Mar 30 and ended at the James River crossing on April 18th. Took one day off on the 13th in Daleville to refit and rest the feet. Re-booted the entire pack in Daleville to drop the hammock stuff, one JRB quilt, and some other items - I know, I know - heresy. But I dropped 8 lbs from the base weight (26 to 18) by going to a new NeoAir pad and one JRB quilt to sleep in the shelters for the last 5 days. I paid for it with a sore back and fitful sleep, but I was moving better with the lighter weight.
So the trail was mostly cleared by crews ahead of me. Only one place was ragged with downed stuff, but was easily gotten around. Winter storms did a number on the ridges with lots of downed trees and major limbs. Got passed by about 12 thru hikers over the time I was out and another 6 or 8 were already ahead of me. Basically, I was ahead of the major crowd that left GA in mid to late March.
Had drizzly rain one day and mostly sun the rest of the time. Temps were in the 70's and 80's for most of the trip. Hot for this time of year in VA. Too hot for some of the early days, especially going up those d--- ridges. Most mornings, temps were in high 40's to low 50's, good sleeping weather. A few days of high winds were good on those hot days, but brought in a final cold snap on the 17th. Morning of the 18th was 38* at Thunder Hill Shelter. That one JRB quilt was doing its job, but I had to get down to my skivvies to make the down work at its best. Glad I didn't have to find a tree in the middle of the night.
Not a lot of sights to see on this trip but I've included a few pics here of the better opportunities. Trees were bare for most of the trip above 3000 feet but green-up below 3000 was going well. Lots of wildflowers blooming at lower elevations.
Highlights were passing over MacFee Knob and the Dragon's Tooth and the Home Place restaurant in Catawba for a Sunday lunch (ACYE home style food). Shortest day was about 5 miles on next to last day so I could schedule my shuttle and longest was about 18 miles. I think I probably averaged about 12 miles per day for the 19 hiking days. The last day in the Blue Ridge had the best trails from Apple Orchard Mountain all the way to the James River - smooth hiking on long contours and nice long switchbacks and steady grades.
Found a couple of shelter register notes from STROMCROW, who was out for 2 or 3 days north of Pearisburg, VA. Wondering if it is our HF Stormcrow??????
Finished the trip on the 19th with a short 2 mile hike up to top of Mt Mitchell, NC and then back down. Needed a driver for the Blue Ridge parkway so I could do some site seeing. Not a good idea to be looking around while driving this section.
I'll put more pics in my albums and you can find my journal with the details and full pics at: www.trailjournals.com/rockdawg69
Edit. Look for the 2010 Journal in the listing.