PATC Members and Volunteers - Helping in SNP and BRP

The first ice storm occurred on November 14, shirring off tree tops and toppling hundreds, if not thousands of trees on the Blue Ridge Parkway/Jefferson National Forest and the Skyline Drive/Shenandoah National Park.  Shortly after, the federal government shutdown closed Shenandoah National Park for 6 weeks.  Then additional natural events, including the ice storm of  February 10, exacerbated the amount of debris littering the trails and roadways.  Park personnel have been working diligently to tackle the 900+ trees downed from Swift Run Gap to Rockfish Gap.  Private contractors and additional help from George Washington Parkway crews have worked for weeks and months to haul away branches and trees, and to remove broken limbs in the canopies.  And volunteers have put in countless hours to do their part - swamping branches, trees, and blowdowns along the Appalachian Trail and the hundreds of side trails.  We thank all of the SNP and NFS personnel, private contractors, and the volunteers, many who are PATC trail overseers and members from the Charlottesville Chapter, Southern Shenandoah Valley Chapter, and beyond. To name a few of those volunteers that we are aware of: Jean Enzbrenner, Gary Flynn, Brooks Fulton, Margaret Helber, Jim Fye, Jeff Monroe, Lindsay Brown, Marit Anderson, Mark Perschel, Bill Holman, Mark Walkup, John Stacy, Barry Buschow, Stephanie Danahy, Lynn and Malcom Cameron, Lori Silvestri, Jean Stephens, Tom Engle, Don Blume, Richard Hottel, J. and B. Todd. It has been a long hard winter, but slowly the trails are improving. We hope the SNP southern section will be open soon!

The crew that cleaned up Wildcat Ridge Trail

Clearing the section from Blackrock Hut Parking Area on the AT to the Blacwater Hut Access Trail

Working with the Blue and White Trail Crew with crosscut saws on the Turk Mt. Summit Trail

Joining forces with the Southern Shenandoah Valley Chapter to remove debris from Pinefield Gap to Ivy Creek Overlook

Mark and Marit just got their SNP chainsaw certification, so they can now help saw in the park.  Yay!
submitted by Marit Anderson


Big Butt/Forge Mountain Loop - March 17, 2019

submitted by Jeff Monroe

A combined group of the RATC and PATC-Charlottesville Chapter met at the Goshen WMA parking lot to explore some of the trails few people see – south of Rt. 39 in the Goshen Wildlife Management area.  Jeff Monroe brought a crew from the north, including Jim Fye (who turned back early due to a foot issue), Ann Hays and John Brandt. RATC Hikers included Josiah Leonard, Jenny Steding, Wilma Vargas, co-lead Dave Horst, and co-lead Jeff Monroe.

The route took hikers over the summit of Forge Mountain to a fantastic overlook, then past a powerline cut and over Cooper’s Knob to a dirt road that was once the access road to a fire tower on the summit of Big Butt Mountain that no longer exists.  The group followed the road to the 3451 foot high Big Butt Mountain summit at 5.9 miles.

On the way back, the group followed a trail none of them had ever hiked, which turned out to basically be an occasionally blazed bushwhack.  They followed a steep slope down under the powerlines, then a brutal climb back up to Forge Mountain. From there, they retraced their steps to the parking area for a hike that totaled 12.8 miles with 4075 feet elevation gain.

Hike route details: http://www.wanderingvirginia.com/2019/03/forge-mountain-trail-goshen-wma.html


Massanutten Kaylor Knob Hike - March 9, 2019

submitted by Michael Seth

At 10 am Dan Ryan, Marie Moss, Anne Colgate, Lynn Hatch, Nancy Handley, Sharon Celsor-Hughes, Barbara Martin, Fabien Heinen (who drove from Pennsylvania to join us), Paul Boisen, John Brandt, hike leader Michael Seth and PATC-Charlottesville President Jeff Monroe met at the Food Lion Parking lot in Elkton and then headed for the Massanutten Resort (entrance is about a 5 minute drive).

The original plan for this hike was to do a 9 mile loop from Cub Run Road which included hiking 4 miles along an abandoned trail.  High streams during an attempted pre-hike required the implementation of Plan B -an 8 mile circuit on the Fridley Gap Trail not far away.  But on Saturday morning icy roads made this impossible so we went to Plan C- a hike to Kaylor Knob from inside the Massanutten Resort.

We drove up Del Webb Drive to the lookout at the top where Jim Fye met us.  Then we hiked 2.3 miles along the trail from the resort to Kaylor Knob, Jim acted as sweep.  Most of it was on a private trail open to the public. The hike leader explained it was an easy ridge walk with good views east and west.  The credibility of both statements were shortly challenged. After a few minutes, where another trail forks off to the left, a sign warned that the Kaylor Knob trail was “extremely difficult.”  The hike leader explained that this was to scare non hikers from the park and can be ignored. And there was no views due to the thick fog. But he trees and bushes were covered by the previous day’s snow and it was quite pretty.

We had lunch at Kaylor knob.  Unfortunately the view had to be imagined in since it was still foggy.  Then we walked the 1.8 mile Second Mountain Trail to Boones Run. This is the trail Michael Seth is supposed to maintain and that Paul Boisen the PATC District Manager for South Massanutten is supposed to see that he does.  Several people joined Jim including Paul, Jeff, Dan and John as he crossed Boones Run and walked the quarter mile to Boones Run Shelter. Others elected to turn around at the stream. Ann Colgate led the way back up- a good 1200 ascent.  On the way several of the sharped eyed hikers Lynn and Sharon spotted the old CCC marker on the trail.

We returned to our cars around 4:00.  By this that time the fog had mostly lifted and there were some nice views.

Iva's Annual Soup Hike, Blue Ridge School Trails - February 23, 2019

Submitted by Jeanne Siler

The high temperature was 48. A steady light rain was falling at 10 am in Stanardsville on February 23, 2019, and it continued well into the afternoon.

Most importantly, the rain was falling on Iva Gillet’s Annual Soup Hike Saturday.

Having recently switched from a simple web posting of upcoming hikes to include an online Meetup system, the PATC event attracted well over two dozen interested hikers. But as early as 6:15 am, the regrets started pinging phones all over the region: “Sorry. I was looking forward to this hike, but...” “I’ve decided to pull out as I really don’t enjoy hiking in the rain.” New president of the Potomac Appalachian Trail Chapter, Jeff Monroe, responded by reminding everyone, "There's no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothing.”

Thus, despite the weather, hiking prevailed.

Twenty-three men and women—with an average age of 62, I might add—turned out in ponchos and plastic to make a trek along the muddy, but navigable trails at the Blue Ridge School in Dyke, just a few short miles from Gillet’s home where pots of chicken chili, beef stew, vegetable soup and desserts awaited.

The hardy hikers ranged in age from 35 to 72 but no one was too old for either the three-miler led by Bill Holman or the six mile route that included a steep uphill climb on the Moonshine Trail to the top of the hollow ridgeline, led by Gillet. (Monroe, capable of taking on much more strenuous treks, opted for the shorter hike so he could return in time to watch the UVA/Louisville basketball game on Gillet’s television.)

The cold rain didn’t create serious hazards for anyone, but the warmth from the wood stove was much appreciated, all the same. (And the Hoos won, helping create an even more festive atmosphere among the many Virginians, a couple of Cardinal fans notwithstanding.)

This was the annual Soup Hike, a favorite among area hikers.

Those in attendance included: Monroe, Holman, Gillet, first-time hiker Laverne Strother and four Davids, (D. Crowe, D. Ledbetter, D. Borzich, and D. Abdallah) plus Peggie B, Jeanne Siler, Art Bykonen, Marian & John Shannon, Michael Seth, Mike Hammer, Jeanne & Dennis Templeton, Jodi Frederickson, Nancy Handley, John Brandt, Ann Hays, Brian Muszynski, and Marie Moss.

Sorry if you missed out- a little rain should never stop a good hike!

Powell Mountain - January 12, 2019

submitted by Iva Gillet

With the prediction of snow in the afternoon, those planning to join this hike diminished, however, a dedicated group of nine hikers met at Swift Run Gap planning to head north on the Skyline Drive to hike the Powell Mountain trail. Despite the government shut-down, someone did manage to close the Central District. This meant that Iva Gillet changed to plan B, and headed west into the Shenandoah Valley to hike this trail from the bottom up. Bill Holman navigated our group to the Jollett Mission Church through winding back roads near Elkton. David Crowe, Nancy Handley, Jim Fye and a friend followed as Jeff Monroe and Gracie showcased the new for him 4Runner driving Dave Abdullah and Jodi Fredricksen.
Starting out with the steepest part of the climb, we steadily hiked the wide trail stopping occasionally for breathers. The weather was terrific for winter hiking and with the Park closed, we saw no one else. David and Dave zipped ahead of the group and admired the Skyline Drive with a pristine layer of snow. We congregated at the Hazel Mountain Overlook to enjoy our lunch. With the approaching weather front, the wind picked up and we shared food and drink quickly as we cooled off, and then descended the same way we climbed. The clear views and gentle grade made this a pleasant hike. As we finished and took our final pictures the snow began to fall- perfect timing. This hike was 7 miles and 2000 feet of climbing. Thanks to all who weren’t scared off by the weather prediction and joined Remi and me!