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  1. #1
    Senior Member Ashman's Avatar
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    50 miles from Ashby Gap to Thorton Gap on the AT

    Day One

    This was a reschedule of a hike I was going to do earlier in the summer. I had to reschedule due to a death in the family. I was hoping that doing this trip in August wouldn’t be too hot or dry. I met up with my hiking partners in Harrisonburg VA where we got a pre-trip fuel up at a local Five Guys Pizza.



    We dropped my car off at Thorton Gap just off of 211, there is a parking lot there that you can use without having to go into the park (save the fee right?!). From there we pile into my buddy’s Honda Civic and get off at the trailhead off of VA 601 near Paris at Ashby Gap. WARNING! The sign for trailhead parking is so small I think it was carved by elves once they finished the work on the cobbler’s bench!



    We cross US 50/17 and begin the ascent into the Sky Meadows Park, it was a nice trail, well graded, gentle ascent.



    Get to the top of Sky Meadows and it is a great walk, nice breeze comfy temps



    We got a later start than we wanted and had to hike more miles in less days so we donned our headlamps as the sun set. We passed the first shelter Dick’s Dome and passed on as we heard a dog barking nearby and didn’t’ want to hear him all night. Saw a HUGE spider on a rock, remember this is after dark



    After hiking for about 7 miles we decided to call it night two of my friends were ground dwellers this was their campsite….



    And this was mine! I also had a new convert! One of my friends got a an ENO Double Nest and joined the ranks of the Ewoks! I was under the OES McCat in a HH Delux


  2. #2
    Darby's Avatar
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    Did you have to reschedule the SNP hike? I have been in a funk ever since I had to cancel that hike. I'm still waiting for the Doc to give me the OK to start walking again (with a pack of course ).
    Beer won't solve problems, but then again, neither will milk !
    Designer of the Switchback Hammock
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  3. #3
    BillyBob58's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ashman View Post
    ....... We passed the first shelter ****’s Dome and passed on as we heard a dog barking nearby and didn’t’ want to hear him all night. Saw a HUGE spider on a rock, remember this is after dark......

    After hiking for about 7 miles we decided to call it night two of my friends were ground dwellers this was their campsite….

    ........
    Oh boy! I used to do that, but never in the south in the summer, too many insects and snakes and too much Poison Ivy! Only in the Rockies, and never now if I have a choice. Although I would be more willing, if not thrilled, in winter.
    For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us....that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.
    Romans 8:18,21-22

  4. #4
    Member Lynx's Avatar
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    I agree with BillyBob58! How anyone could look at those last two pics and prefer to sleep on the ground is totally beyond me. Perhaps I'm missing something
    Fiat Luchs

  5. #5
    Senior Member NCPatrick's Avatar
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    Thanks for the pictures!


    "Civilization is the limitless multiplication of unnecessary necessities."
    - Mark Twain
    “I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.”
    - John Burroughs

  6. #6
    Senior Member Ashman's Avatar
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    Day Two

    Day Two had us off to a decent start we were on the trail by 7:30 with a very ambitious goal of 17 miles. Still lots of flowers even this late in summer



    We stopped at Manassas Gap Shelter for a mid morning break. This was one of the few times I was able to get cell phone coverage. I called home to check in with the troops. My youngest daughter asked me how many miles did I do yesterday. I told her 7. She said, “7! I thought you were gonna do 50!” I told her that was the goal for the whole trip not one day but It does my heart good to think she thinks I could do that!



    Coming down off the mountain we get a pretty good view of the climb in front of us.



    We cross over a stream…..



    … and then under an Interstate (66 to be precise)



    Saw some HUGE mushrooms this was bigger than my hand span



    Stopped at Molly Denton Shelter for a break. AWESOME STOP! The PATC knows there stuff, their shelters were in great shape and very pretty. This one even had a cold shower which felt great!
    Pic ear

    Butterflies and Moths were all over us, pretty cool



    More pretty trail shots and flower shots









    We stopped for a break at Mosby’s Camp. This camp was named after Col. John Mosby who was regarded as one of the most effective Confederate Raiders during the Civil War



    Took a shot of some bear poop, I know that is kinda weird but I wanted it in case I never got to see a live one



    We crossed 522 and did the last climb up to Tom Floyd Wayside. It was a long hard day, the most miles I had ever done. The last 2 miles were crazy hard but I got there. We set up camp at one of the primitive sites only to discover that Ginger Spring was bone dry and we had maybe 1 liter of water for four guys. Two of the fellas went down to the Parking lot to get some water. I got the bear bag set up and climbed in the hammock AND WENT TO SLEEP! A little while later, our guys came back, they found a local who let them get water from him. He had a 1903 Wayne Auto very cool. Even Cooler we had water! It was kinda sparse up there so it is a good idea to fill up when you can. Some of the sources were a ways off trail. We met our goal of 17 miles, more than I have hiked in a day ever.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Ashman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darby View Post
    Did you have to reschedule the SNP hike? I have been in a funk ever since I had to cancel that hike. I'm still waiting for the Doc to give me the OK to start walking again (with a pack of course ).
    Yeah I did. My wife' grandpa died and we had to go to Michagan. Luckily most of the guys could do it later. I wished is had been earlier in the summer but better a hot hike than no kike!

    Quote Originally Posted by BillyBob58 View Post
    Oh boy! I used to do that, but never in the south in the summer, too many insects and snakes and too much Poison Ivy! Only in the Rockies, and never now if I have a choice. Although I would be more willing, if not thrilled, in winter.
    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx View Post
    I agree with BillyBob58! How anyone could look at those last two pics and prefer to sleep on the ground is totally beyond me. Perhaps I'm missing something
    YOU said it! My new hammock friend used to pic on my but he a real sheepish grin when we were setting up!

    Quote Originally Posted by NCPatrick View Post
    Thanks for the pictures!
    My pleasure! The pics are better than the words. I wish I had taken more!

  8. #8
    Senior Member Ashman's Avatar
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    Day Three

    The next morning we got off to a bit later start. We had another 17 miles in front of us for the day. It was going to be a real stretch for me to do two days like that. Before too much longer we got up to Possum’s Rest



    And shortly after that we were in Shenandoah National Park!



    We proceeded to the backcountry permit station. We all proceeded to fill out a permit and then saw that we only needed one for the entire group. I loved the section of the permit that asked what watercraft we had with us! I wasn’t aware of any navigable streams or waterways in the Park! I guess it must be a generic permit for all National Parks.



    After we registered we started back on the trail. The initial part of the park is very level and easy going. Before too much longer we came to our first crossing of the Skyline Drive and the trailhead parking for Compton Peak



    We get to the top of Compton Peak, it was a pretty healthy climb! Once you are at the top a side trail leads to views on either side. We broke for lunch and discussed plans for the rest of the day. Originally we had planned to hike to Elkwallow Wayside and get burgers and hotdogs for dinner. The info we had said that the wayside closed at 5 PM. Based our mileage thus far in the day, we figured we wouldn’t get there in time. So we decided to take the .2 mile side trail to the view, it was worth it!



    Those of you who have been in the back country know that the pictures don’t do it justice, and this is another example. We started down the mountain and I saw the first bear of the trip



    He is in the middle, I know it is a crummy shot but you can’t exactly ask the bear to come back and redo the shot! We saw about 6 over the weekend and 2 cubs very cool! We were heading up the next peak (unnamed on the map but a good climb none the less when we ran into another couple that told us that Elkwallow was open to 7! We decided to try to hit it for dinner. The climb up Marshall Mountain was very nice, I enjoyed the grade, not too steep. On the way down we decided to stop at Gravel Springs Hut to get water and cool down. The hut is .2 mile from the trail but it was pretty steep. After about 100 yards we ditch our packs so we don’t have to climb up (A GOOD IDEA) it was a very steep trail to the hut. The spring was unprotected (near a horse trail) we were doing okay for water so I soaked my bandanna to cool off. The other guys were resting and I offered to head back up to the packs in case some critter decided to come near. I get there and the guys are right behind me. I get my pack on and start to head off because the others will catch me pretty soon and we have the last big climb of the day up Hogback Mountain ahead of us. The sun is filtering through the canopy and I get what I think is a really cool shot.



    I felt like I was in a private cathedral with just me and God, a very nice moment. The guys catch up to me and we decide that Al and Joe should go on to the wayside and try to get there before it closes. Brent offers to stay back with me. The take off and we follow. They got to the wayside about 20 minutes before they closed. We got there at 7:45. They bought us food and Gatorades. MAN does cold Gatorade taste good when you have been drinking water only for three days! We fill up our water bags and clean up. We thought there was a hut nearby because of the map, but the “hut” on the map was the wayside. We go back into the tree line and set up camp for the night. We have 8.5 miles in front of us and decide to sleep in late and get breakfast at the wayside when they open at 9. That night we can hear bears banging the garbage cans. A weird sound.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Ashman's Avatar
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    The final Day!

    The last morning was a slow and lazy morning. We broke camp around 8:15 and set up at one of the picnic tables by the wayside to wait for them to open. After a while we decided to cook last night’s dinner instead to lighten the pack (a GREAT idea since I was carrying dinner). I had three cous cous meals ready to go in freezer bags. We’ve got one dinner soaking and I get water to run in our other JetBoil cup for some coffee. I set it up and I smell this awful smell. Me being the wonder genius that I am put the cous cous in the bag back on the stove. Melted the cozy and the bag inside! GRRRRRRRRR. We fix the other two meals without incident. There was a mountain biker at the table next to us who was getting a good laugh at my unintentional comedy routine! We found out he was in the Process of going from Philly to Oregon to raise money for Habitat for Humanity. A pretty cool guy. We give him some of our food. I hit the trail at 10:15 the others followed behind at 10:30. Got to the top of the first climb and waited about 5 minutes before the others caught up. We did some ridge walking for a few miles. Spooked a grouse when in turned spooked us! On the decent got this cool rock shot

    .

    The trail gets real grassy and narrow just a few inches wide at this point.



    We hit Pass Mountain our last climb and come down to the other side to our car. We pick up the other car and head home, stopping off at 5 Guys again on the way out.
    It was a really good trip but a hot one and dry in spaces. Lots of wild life saw a TON of millipedes. I can’t wait to hit the Central Section so I can get some Blackberry milkshakes!

  10. #10
    Senior Member Pawfoot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ashman View Post


    My pleasure! The pics are better than the words. I wish I had taken more!
    I couldn't agree more!

    Great pictures and report, Thanks for sharing!!!
    ...Says Pawfoot, thats who!! [ Cuz thats how I roll ]
    and Coffins ARE used for transportation...

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