Mint Springs Park Hike- October 14, 2017

With a forecast of drizzle and fog, it was a nice surprise to have seven hikers on the Mint Springs Park hike in western Albemarle County including David Crowe, Nancy Handly, Emerald Young (taking the photo), John Brandt, Jeanne Siler, Brad Young and hike leader, Marit Anderson.  We started out in fog, but actually the morning ended up being cool and overcast...perfect for hiking.  We circumnavigated the trails with the Fire Trail, Big Survey Trail, Little Yellow Mountain Trail, Hollow Trail, and the various lake trails.  A nice variety of ascents, descents, and flat trail clocking in at 4.88 miles and 779 ft of elevation gain.  We hiked for a little over two hours and then enjoyed our lunches by the upper lake at a covered picnic area discussing everything from health care, housing market, and catching up on each other's lives.  As we ended, the sun came out in full blast with humidity and temperatures rising.  We were all glad to have our exercise completed for the day as we went on our way!
In the distance is King Family Vineyards

This choking vine really made this tree "twisted"
Upper lake...a calm place to be

Now the fishing begins

We are ready for lunch

submitted by Marit Anderson


Crescent Rock/Upper Whiteoak Canyon Falls Retrace - August 5, 2017

submitted by Jeanne Nicholson Siler & Gabriel Garretson

With 75 individually named, pull-off-style overlooks along the Skyline Drive within Shenandoah National Park, you might wonder why anyone would trek up and down the mountain sides for miles in order to catch a good view.

An 86-foot waterfall is reason enough.

More than a dozen PATC members from both the Charlottesville and others from the PATC meetup group combined efforts on Saturday, August 5, to hike more than seven miles, first down and then up, for the chance to have a picnic lunch on a giant slab of rock overlooking the upper reaches of Whiteoak Canyon Falls.  With hike leader Gabriel Garretson in the lead and Lindsey Brown following as sweep, and 12 other hikers including Anne Colgate, CJ Woodburn, David Crowe, Dennis Templeton, Heather Stewart, Jeanne Siler, Jennifer Dice, John Brandt, Marian Styles, Patrick Cory, Schanna Chilcote, and Susan Lopez headed off from between mileposts 44 & 45 in the Central District of the Park after leaving cars at the Crescent Rock Overlook parking area. Hikers hailed from as far off as Fredericksburg and northern Virginia to join the group, testimony to the draw of PATC online posts of hiking schedules.

First stop was the under-appreciated Crescent Rock vista, barely minutes from the Crescent Rock parking lot’s southern end, (with no sign) but offering great views of Luray and the Shenandoah Valley to the west. 

Betty’s Rock trail, advertised as part of the day’s three-view adventure, ended up off limits.

A park ranger encountered just north of the parking lot declared the overgrown 0.7 mile route closed because of the growth of rare plants growing along the trail and near the rock. Rumors were spreading all summer about why such an accessible path from such a little-used parking lot might be restricted (including the possibility that rattlesnakes, hardly an endangered species, were repeatedly spotted in that area.)  Our leader, however, shifted gears easily enough and took his hikers ambling gently down the Crescent Rock Trail for a little over a mile before hitting a section of the wide and handicapped-accessible Limberlost Trail. A side trek to check out the almost boggy origins of the Whiteoak Canyon River made up for missing Betty and her rocks. A turnaround onto the Whiteoak Canyon Falls trail kept hikers paralleling the river (as it grew in size and the path narrowed) on the way to our obvious lunch spot with a spectacular perspective of the upper falls, the largest of six significant falls along the popular Whiteoak Canyon Trail. Many hikers are likely familiar with this view, but take a more difficult hike up the Whiteoak Canyon Trail from Route 600, south of Old Rag, rather than the downhill approach from Skyline Drive.

It was the kind of low-humidity Saturday, a true oddity for any day in August, that pulled hundreds of visitors away from their homes and toward the parks’ trails, making for especially dense lines of cars near the trailheads for Dark Hollow Falls, South River Falls and Lewis Falls. The cool breezes meant a couple potential swimming holes went unused, but made for smiling faces even as the group climbed the 1300 feet of elevation back to the cars. 

Garretson billed the hike as “moderate,” a label that held true on a scale of strenuousness, but not so much on any enjoyability rating. For that, the day deserved an “exceptional.”

Rocky Mountain Run/Big Run Portal Shuttle - July 22, 2017

submitted by Gabriel Garretson

     On a very hot and humid summer day, 12 hikers from the Charlottesville PATC and the PATC meetup group went on an exceptional summer water hike in Southern Section of Shenandoah National Park. Hikers included Gabriel Garretson, Steve Braintwain, Susan Lopez, Sandy DiCarlo, Marley McGrath, Patrick Cory, Norman Beil, John Brandt, Bev & Pete Fink, Dane Alder and C Hardy.  About 5 miles of the hike was adjacent to beautiful mountain streams in the remote parts of the SNP wilderness area.  After we setup shuttle, we began the hike at the Brown Mtn Overlook at MP 76.9 and descended on the Brown Mtn trail. Next we connected with the Rocky Mtn Run trail and descended until we reached the Big Run Portal trail. After lunch and splashdown, we began a gradual climb up the Big Run Portal trail to the steeper Big Run Loop trail and climbed up to Big Run Overlook. Overall this hike included 7 plus stream crossings, which everyone was able to cross without getting wet. The hike leader overheated and was the last to arrive at Big Run Overlook but was very blessed with terrific support from other hikers that waited patiently and enjoyed extra time to visit. 


Cadillac Crew & Charlottesville PATC trail building at the Vining Cabin - August 26-27, 2017

     Eight members of the Charlottesville PATC united with the Cadillac Crew on August 26 and 27 to build trails at the Vining Cabin in Greene County.  Volunteers included Michael Seth, Dave Borszich, Mark Walkup, Bill Holman, Iva Gillet, Gabriel Garretson, Mark Perschel, and Marit Anderson from our club with Jacob C., Ellen L., Dan F., Kathy L., Tysha R., Martha B., Robert F., Kirsten E, Dennis L., and Vic F. from the Cadillac Crew (last names were not disclosed due to social media concerns by the project chair).  We worked from 10 am to 4 pm on Saturday and were able to build a quarter mile trail from the ground up including some stairs and rock crossings over portions of Mattie's Run.  It was great to collaborate with some very experienced trail builders!  Most of the Cadillac Crew drove down from Northern Virginia, as well as a couple from Williamsburg, VA.  After our work on Saturday night we convened at the Cadillac Crew host's house - Hope and Steve Barber only a few miles away on Rt. 33 for a pot luck dinner.  Amazing food and comradery among the two clubs.  Marit and Mark joined the Cadillac Crew spending the night at the Barber's property and helped with a morning of putting finishing touches on the trail on Sunday.  Joint future trail building projects at the Vining Cabin and nearby areas were discussed...we will keep everyone posted.

Hope and Steve Barber's home and site of the pot luck and housing of Cadillac Crew -Marit and Mark camped on the side lawn

The Barber's overflow cabin...cute little place 

Submitted by Marit Anderson


St Mary's Falls - August 12, 2017

submitted by Iva Gillet

     It was a warm day for a hike in the wilderness to St. Mary's Fall when eight hikers and Remi the best hiking dog headed off to enjoy the beauty and cold mountain water. Gabriel Garrettson, Bill Westin, John Brandt, Bill Holman, Marian Styles, Debra Fisher, and newcomer Brigitte Hogan followed the rugged but well worn trail, crossing the St Mary's River 5 times each way. All but 2 hikers soaked up the river coolness, with Remi enjoying whoever would throw a stick for her! It was not crowded when we arrived, so we soaked and enjoyed our lunches and treats at the base of the falls. We passed several groups as we retraced our steps back to the parking lot, as others also admired the clear mountain trout stream. Come join us for a waterfall hike soon!