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  1. #1
    Rockdawg69's Avatar
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    Tripping the AT in SW Virginia - NOT the Light Fantastic

    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.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Rockdawg69; 04-22-2010 at 22:37.
    Rockdawg69

    Professional Prevaricator: Part-time dealer in Yarns, Tales, Half-Truths, & Outright Lies -1st half-hour session at no cost (Lawyers and Doctors excepted).

  2. #2
    Senior Member angrysparrow's Avatar
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    Looking good Rockdawg! You picked a great time of year to be out there...

    Thanks for the great report.
    “I think that when the lies are all told and forgot the truth will be there yet. It dont move about from place to place and it dont change from time to time. You cant corrupt it any more than you can salt salt.” - Cormac McCarthy

  3. #3
    mbiraman's Avatar
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    Thanks for the report and pics, glad you survived.
    " The mind creates the abyss, the heart crosses it."

    “The measure of your life will not be in what you accumulate, but in what you give away.” ~Wayne Dyer

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  4. #4
    Senior Member Just Jeff's Avatar
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    Sounds like a great time! Well, except for the whole "dropped the hammock" part.
    “Republics are created by the virtue, public spirit, and intelligence of the citizens. They fall when the wise are banished from the public councils because they dare to be honest, and the profligate are rewarded because they flatter the people, in order to betray them.” ~Judge Joseph Story

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  5. #5
    New Member
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    Rockdawg69, Sorry you thought the trek here was hell but being a former flatlander from SC, I understand your pain. Lived here in Salem, VA for about 9 years now and been taken the Scouts on backpacking trips to MacAfee's and Dragon's Tooth and up and down the AT here in SW VA and love every minute of it. It can be challenging for us over 50 crowd but as you pointed out the views and scenery are great. I'm new to the hammock style and did my first hang on a trip on the AT a few weeks ago. Doing a trip to Dragons Tooth in May with some younger Scouts that will be my second Hang. I'm fortunate that we live in my opinion on one of the best stretches of the AT and I can get to the AT in about 20 minutes and to the Homeplace for that awesome country meal in 30 minutes. If you or any on the forum here pass this way, give me a shout if you need anything or just to say hello!

  6. #6
    Rockdawg69's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KI4HWN View Post
    Rockdawg69, Sorry you thought the trek here was hell but being a former flatlander from SC, I understand your pain. Lived here in Salem, VA for about 9 years now and been taken the Scouts on backpacking trips to MacAfee's and Dragon's Tooth and up and down the AT here in SW VA and love every minute of it. It can be challenging for us over 50 crowd but as you pointed out the views and scenery are great. I'm new to the hammock style and did my first hang on a trip on the AT a few weeks ago. Doing a trip to Dragons Tooth in May with some younger Scouts that will be my second Hang. I'm fortunate that we live in my opinion on one of the best stretches of the AT and I can get to the AT in about 20 minutes and to the Homeplace for that awesome country meal in 30 minutes. If you or any on the forum here pass this way, give me a shout if you need anything or just to say hello!
    Thanks for the invite. A current ASM myself. I did enjoy most of the trip. As I said, mostly my fault for not getting in shape beforehand. However, as a geologist, once you have seen one of the Valley and Ridge Province ridges, you don't need to see another one - they are all pretty much the same. Now the Tooth and MacFee were really cool spots, different from the other ridges.

    Hope you find a few trees on the Tooth to hang on. Be prepared for a crowd. Must have been 50 folks on, around, or going up and down the Saturday afternoon I passed over it. And MacFee on Sunday was even more crowded.
    Rockdawg69

    Professional Prevaricator: Part-time dealer in Yarns, Tales, Half-Truths, & Outright Lies -1st half-hour session at no cost (Lawyers and Doctors excepted).

  7. #7
    Senior Member Newzy's Avatar
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    Dawg, great post on your trip. It's always nice to see and hear of the "great outdoors" thru others. Hope to get there someday myself. Thanks, Newz

  8. #8
    Senior Member bigbamaguy's Avatar
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    RD69:
    thanks for the post......I needed that visual break while I am sitting here in the office trying to make it through the day!
    Par Si Vis Pace Para Bellum

  9. #9
    Rockdawg69's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigbamaguy View Post
    RD69:
    thanks for the post......I needed that visual break while I am sitting here in the office trying to make it through the day!
    Glad you got your eyes relieved.
    Rockdawg69

    Professional Prevaricator: Part-time dealer in Yarns, Tales, Half-Truths, & Outright Lies -1st half-hour session at no cost (Lawyers and Doctors excepted).

  10. #10
    Knotty's Avatar
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    The tree in the third pick would require a hell of a long tree hugger!

    Thanks for sharing.
    Knotty
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