Beard's Mountain Hike, Sunday, Nov 10, 2019

Three hikers braved perfect temps and unknown trail conditions to travel out near Douthat State Park and hike a little used trail in the GWNF.  This hike started out by crossing the scenic Cowpasture River on a 150 foot long swinging bridge. The bridge connected to a trail on the western side of the river that climbed Beards Mountain, which is the eastern boundary of Douthat SP. This was an out-and-back hike up Beards Mountain that did not go as far as the Douthat boundary.  It appears to be an established mountain biking trail, though we saw no other trail users of any kind. The trail was in great shape - must be the mountain bikers! There were several nice views through the trees and one open spit with spectacular views to nearby mountains, including the Rough Mountain Wilderness, Warm Springs Mountain, Tower Hill Mountain, and Shenandoah Mountain.  Joining hike leader Jeff Monroe were Marian Styles and Joanna Myers.  The trio hiked a total of 9.6 miles with a 2550 foot total ascent, over 4 ¾ hours. 


Fuller Rocks, November 2, 2019
6 hikers, Barbara Martin, Andre Meyer, Dave Eldtman, Nancy Hanley, Margaret Helber and John Brandt enjoyed a gorgeous fall day with incredible viewpoints on November 2. We started out driving through fog on the way to James River Foot Bridge, but miraculously just as we arrived at the parking lot, the skies cleared and we hiked under gorgeous, clear blue skies. This was an out and back hike heading north on the AT, which started with a stroll along the lovely Rock Row Run. After a couple of miles we began the climb to Fuller Rocks. The view of the James River and surrounding mountains was so appealing we decided to have our lunch, complete with leftover Halloween candy from hike leader, Barbara Martin. The decision was made after lunch to hike another 1.3 miles further north on the AT to a promised view above cliffs. This added another 600 feet in elevation, but all agreed it was worth the climb with an even more expansive view than the one at Fuller Rocks. We all headed back, feeling sated and grateful.


Pete's Cave: Oct 19, 2019

14 hikers -  Andre Meyer, Sue G, Claire Cline, Nancy Kern, Larry Cutler, Christa Neher, Margaret Helber, Joan Gilrain, Michael Seth, John Brandt, Peggy Byrd, Dennis Templeton and Jeanne B  - joined hike leader Barbara Martin for the annual Pete's Cave/North Mountain hike followed by a potluck party at the home of Andre Meyer. 

The day couldn't have been more perfect for a hike.  The sky was clear, the leaves were turning, the air was fresh with just the right amount of chill.  The hike started with two great views into Rockbridge County.  After a pleasant mostly flat hike we climbed some rock stairs to the spectacular Pete's Cave, which isn't really a cave.  You had to be there to understand that!  Around the corner we all paused for another great view from the opposite side of the ridge.  It was tough to leave, but we made our way back to fun and refreshments at Andre's house.  A good time was had by all.

Douthat Campout/GET Trail Work, Oct 4-6, 2019

A great group of campers/trail workers descended on beautiful Douthat State Park the first weekend in October to enjoy festivities and improve a remote section of the Great Eastern Trail (GET).  The group included David Crowe, Mike Hammer, Barbara Martin, Donna Bossardt, Bill Holman, Jayne Mayne, Paul Henderson, Cat McCue, Gaby Navoa, Johanna Song, CJ Woodburn, and event organizers Iva Gillet and Jeff Monroe.

The group camped in adjoining sites on the edge of Douthat Lake.  Our neighbors may not have liked us, but we had a blast!
Early morning view of campsites
People started arriving on Friday - except for Mike, who had come on Thursday.  Friday's excitement was another camper who was suffering from vertigo, and we had to summon a ranger who called an ambulance.  We never saw that camper again, though his stuff was at the campground for the rest of our stay.

On Saturday, we drove over to Warm Springs Mountain, met up with Cat and her dog - a Saturday arrival.  We then consolidated vehicles and made the long and bumpy drive on a Forest Service road to our trailhead.  It was worth the effort, however, because our trail was overgrown almost to our vehicles.  
A "before" photo of the trail.
The group separated into two, equally important subgroups: (1) the workers cutting back the incredible amounts of overgrowth, and (2) the workers attacking larger downed trees.  Below are a series of photos showing the progression of the sawyer group on one incredibly nasty blowdown.  This was entirely done with hand saws - no power equipment used!  

The brush group cut back on the overgrowth - this trail had likely not been touched in over 20 years - and uncovered a trail under all the growth!  Of particular importance was the intersection of the South Piney Mountain Trail and the old Walnut Hollow Trail.  The GET makes a hard left off of the ridge here, but the South Piney Mtn Trail keeps going straight.  We cut back extensively at this intersection to make sure that hikers know which way the GET goes, while leaving the non-GET trail alone.
Cat shows where the GET turns to the left.  Behind Cat is the non-GET
portion of the South Piney Mtn Tr.

View from the trail east towards Jump Rock, which can be seen in the background.

Trail workers (and Bill's feet)

We hope to return in the Spring to hike this section of trail.  Finally, after two separate trail work trips here (first one is described here: LINK), this trail section is now actually hikeable!  

SNP AT Hike #3, October 13, 2019

Seven veteran PATC hikers engaged in the third of a series of AT hikes through Shenandoah National Park on Sunday, October 13, 2019.  The group included Karen and John Ballen, Jocelyn Prostko, Lin Yang, Nancy Handley, hike-leader-in-training Margaret Helber, and hike leader Jeff Monroe.  The group hiked from Turk Gap parking north on the Appalachian Trail to the Blackrock parking lot just north of the Blackrock vista. 

Margaret took this photo, so she is missing from the group of smiling faces!

Autumn splendor!

View from Blackrock vista.