Out and back south on AT from Rockfish Gap - February 10, 2018

submitted by Barbara Martin

A planned hike from Braley Pond was scuttled with a rapid change in weather overnight to rain arriving in the morning rather than the afternoon and a report from Jim Fye that the Churchville area was raining and 35 degrees.  Hike leader, Barbara Martin and Andre Meyer met Nancy Handley at Rockfish Gap.  After a short consultation we decided to hike south on the AT, since Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive were closed.  We hiked out and back about 6 miles, enjoying the foggy mountain views on the way back.  Nancy and Andre experimented with umbrella hiking techniques.  Barbara went with the rain coat and pants technique.  We finished off our hike with a traditional rainy weather activity:  a shopping spree at Rockfish Gap Outfitters, who were having their annual Valentine's winter gear clear out. 

James River Face Wilderness Loop - February 2, 2018

submitted by Jeff Monroe

This was a PATC/RATC combined hike that never quite combined.  The Charlottesville-based group picked up 2 hikers in Charlottesville, 2 more in Afton, and a 5th in Staunton on the way to the Petite’s Gap Road trailhead.  With temps that started the day in the teens, the earlier arriving Daleville group wasn’t going to wait long, and they were long gone when the Charlottesville group arrived. There was communication via text between the two groups, and the lead group agreed to wait for the trailing group at the Marble Springs Shelter lunch site, but the RATC hikers found that location too windy and cold to stay long.  The Charlottesville Chapter hiked up the Sulphur Springs Trail to the Appalachian Trail in the Wilderness, where they found a warm sunny spot to lunch.  And, given the reports from the RATC about the cold nature of the trail ahead, the Charlottesville group voted to hike back down in the sun using that trail they had taken to the lunch spot.  Both groups managed to convene after the hike at the nearby Great Valley Farm Brewery in Natural Bridge.  It was great not hiking with you!  Charlottesville Chapter hikers included hike leader Jeff Monroe (3rd consecutive week as Chapter hike leader), Marian Styles, John Brandt, Iva Gillet with Remy the happy hiking dog, and SSVC Chapter members Christa Neher and Jim Fye.


Secret Copper Mine Hike - January 20, 2018

submitted by Jeff Monroe

An adventurous crew of ten hikers joined hike leader Jeff Monroe on a beautiful January Saturday to journey to an old copper mine in the National Park.  Included in the group were PATC veterans Marian Styles, Marie Moss, Pete and Bev Fink, Dave Borszich, John Brandt, and Michael Seth.  Also joining us for their second PATC hike were Gaby Novoa and Johanna Song, along with newcomer Jocelyn Prostko. 
The briefly shut down federal government had no effect on the hike, other than hastening access through the guard station.  And there were very few other cars in the park.  In fact, the entire group only saw a stray dog during the hike, and no hikers until they returned to their vehicles at the end of the hike. 
On the way to the mines, the group heard about this area’s brief time on the front pages of the local newspapers, when there was an explosion that could be heard all the way to Charlottesville.  A later inquisition failed to determine whether the explosion and resulting deaths of three men was the result of an accident or something more sinister.  The mine itself looked more like a frozen waterfall.

The group also visited an old trail shelter for AT thru-hikers, likely from the 1970’s or 1980’s, but long since fallen into disuse.  Overall the group traveled 8.4 miles before returning to the trailhead and taking the solemn vow to only show others the location of the secret copper mine in person – to keep it secret (and open) as long as possible.


One Mile Run Trail cleaning - January 27, 2018

submitted by Jeff Monroe
A good number of workers showed up to help clean up what is perhaps the least hiked trail in all of Shenandoah National Park – the Onemile Run Trail.  Hike veteran Michael Seth told the group about hiking this trail one time and meeting up with a park ranger working along the trail – the ranger told Michael that he was the first hiker seen on the trail for the entire week the ranger worked.  In addition to Michael Seth the group included replacement hike leaders Iva Gillet and Jeff Monroe, regulars Dave Borszich, Marie Moss, David Crowe and Bill Holman, first timers Steve Braintwain and Anna Castle, and Heather Rosso, who came all the way down from Reston to help the trail crew.  Gabriel Garretson, the scheduled hike leader, was recovering from the flu.  Feel better soon! 
The group hiked to the national park border and cleaned up several large issues along the trail, crossing Onemile Run 13 times each way.  There was much evidence of the April 2016 fire that swept through this part of the park, and no doubt continued trail work will be necessary in order to keep the trail clear.  The group also hiked through a stand of hemlocks that were saved by the park from the Hemlock woolly adelgid by injecting trees with insecticide. 
Upon returning to the trailhead, the group once again obtained cell service, and was excited to learn that UVA’s men’s basketball team had left Blue the Duke Devils in Durham while the group completed its trail work. DVRs are our friends!