Cat Knob, The SAG, Rapidan Camp Custom Hike - February 11, 2017

submitted by Gabriel Garretson

     Six hikers, including hike leader Gabriel Garretson, climbed Cat Knob starting from Bootens Gap, and continued to The Sag, Rapidan Camp, Big Rock Falls and ended hike at Milam Gap. The overall moderately strenuous hike was 7.3 mile long with 1700 feet of ascent on a mild 60 degree winter day. Other hikers included Claire Cline, Lindsay Brown, Mike Spencer, Patrick Cory and Tim Munford.  
     Tim and Patrick went on a one mile side trip up and back up the Fork Mountain Road to the SNP boundary to help Gabriel and Claire in their effort to complete hiking all 500 plus miles within SNP. On our return the Laurel Prong stream crossing was challenging and two hikers got their shoes wet. Lunch at Rapidan Camp and the view at Big Rock Falls was delightful.
     It is now projected that both Gabriel and Claire will finish hiking all 500 plus mikes within the SNP on a PATC hiked planned for March 2nd. Please join us for this celebration if you can.  
    For 25 photos please see PATC meetup link: https://www.meetup.com/PATCEvents/photos/27614189/


Hightop Mountain Soup Hike - February 4, 2017

submitted by Iva Gillet

     Cold and windy - perfect weather for a shorter hike nearby, so that it could be followed by a soup social and watching UVa basketball. While Iva Gillet collected Lindsay Brown, John Shannon, Marie Moss, Tony Alimenti, Lisa Lampe and Max the reliable hiking dog, Neil McKinney and Brian Muszynski from AHS, others were arriving at Iva's Briarleigh Farm. Assembling there were Gabriel Garrettson, Michael Seth, Leon Gorman, Dave Borszich, John Brandt, Pat Peason and Geoff Manning-Smith. We had two father/son pairs hiking today with veteran long distance hiker Mark Perschel and his son Mark, visiting from Alabama, and Eric Geilker and his son Adam, both joining us for the first time. Adam was recently featured in an article written by PATC member Jeannie Siler which appeared in the Potomac Appalachian January newsletter on page 21: http://www.patc.net/PATC/Library/Newsletter/PA-2017/January_2017.aspx about his flip-flop/yo-yo thru hike of the AT last year.  The final group was the Crozet Xpress driven by David Crowe, who brought CJ Woodburn, Rich Bard, Nancy Handley in addition to the Perschels. 
     After collecting two more dogs - Remy and Colt and piling into all 4 WD vehicles, we began the adventure, which commenced with the ascent up Snow Mountain Road. This a rugged gravel road that winds up Snow Mountain toward Smith Roach Gap.  Steep drop-offs, muddy roadbed, and water across the road, helped invigorate us for the fun ahead. It was very windy at the top, and we added layers before heading out.
     Bill Holman led four others on the shorter, three mile loop starting at the edge of the Shenandoah National Park. The others, and all three dogs, began further down the road, and upon entering the Park ran across a large blow-down. Giving back to the trail, as thru-hikers do, Adam Geilker led the assault on the tangled mess. We hiked the Smith Roach fire road to the Smith Roach Gap, and then headed north on the AT, climbing toward the Hightop Hut. A lovely, sunny day allowed us to enjoy the views around us. Both groups convened at the intersection of Hightop fire road and the AT, took pictures, and then Bill’s group descended to head back to the farm to heat up the soup and watch the UVa game.
     All others continued to the Hightop Hut for a quick snack and to see Adam’s entry in the hut log book from last September’s thru hike.  Brian and Colt led the group to the grand viewpoint on Hightop Mountain, where we enjoyed the expanse into the Valley.  Then we were back to the cars and to the farm for the three soups that Bill Holman had prepared for our lunch feast. Marian Styles had arrived before the hikers, so she joined the farm fun and ample food. Great conversations and outdoor friends are an unbeatable combination!


Old Rag Saddle Trail Retrace Hike - January 26, 2017

submitted by Gabriel Garretson

     Six hikers, including hike leader Gabriel Garretson, climbed Old Rag using the Saddle trail to avoid the rock scramble. The moderately strenuous hike was 6.2 mile long with 2300 feet of ascent on a very windy clear winter day. Other PATC weekday hikers included Anne Colgate, David Crowe, Steve Braintwain, Mike Spencer and Jonathan Petrakos.  
     The vista views were exceptional but wind gusts of up to 50mph limited our ability to fully enjoy the summit. We found it very interesting that we did not see another hiker all day. A new first for a PATC group to have exclusive use of the summit. Maybe we are just a little crazier than others that avoided Old Rag on a windy day. Everyone was glad they went and really enjoyed getting to know new weekday hikers Mike and Jonathan. Everyone was also interested in the possibility of more weekday hikes with PATC. 


Jarman Gap to Beagle Gap from Jarman's Gap Road - January 28, 2017

     Fifteen hikers braved the cold and the wind, hiking the Appalachian Trail south from Jarman Gap to Beagle Gap starting from a different approach.  Hiker leader, Marit Anderson, and assistant, Mark Perschel met the others at Brownsville Elementary at 9 am and car pooled up Jarman's Gap Road through Crozet. The hikers included Dan Ralston & Jeanne Densmore, David Crowe, CJ Woodburn, Tony Alimenti, Susan Quinn, Jeanne Siler, John Shannon, Nancy Handly, Susanna Williams, Marie Moss, Iva Gillet, Dave Borszich, Ginny Barber, Steve Thompson, and John Brandt. Taking the 2.2 mile dirt road straight up along Lickinghole Creek and parking at the top we proceeded a quarter of a mile down to the intersection of the AT.  The group went south 1.5 miles on the AT and then took the side trail to Calf Mountain Shelter to enjoy a snack of chocolate chip cookies, water, and hot drinks in the wind break of the structure.
Snack break at Calf Mountain Shelter

 After our break we retraced our steps back to the AT and continued along Calf Mountain to Little Calf Mountain.  The view was clear and beautiful at the top but we continued to Beagle Gap and partway up the hill, deciding to stop there for lunch instead of continuing to the Bear Den Mountain tower complex.  Chilly temperatures made our meal short and we  returned back on the AT, but taking a detour down a fire road near the end of our route to see the possible PATC cabin and land acquisition site,  which is currently being reviewed.  When we arrived back to our cars after the 7.5 mile hike with 1,284 ascent we were happy to regroup.  Marit and Mark invited all of the participants to stop by their house in Crozet for adult refreshments, hot drinks, snacks, and a warm home, and many did so after retrieving their cars.  Thanks everyone for sharing the day!
submitted by Marit Anderson


Spotswood Trail/Big Bend Fire Road, SNP - January 21, 2017

submitted by Jeff Monroe

     A foggy and gloomy Saturday in Charlottesville had no effect on higher elevations in the Blue Ridge, where it was sunny and bright.  Eleven “Adventure Hikers” attended a warm January 21st hike, including Taylor Putney, Gabriel Garretson, Michael Seth, Henry Reeves, John Shannon, Marion Styles, Marie Moss, John Brandt, Iva Gillet and Remy the Incredible Hiking Dog, Bill Holman, and hike leader Jeff Monroe with Gracie the Ultimate Hiking Dog. This was an Adventure Hike because, using a 1934 Topo Map and a 1941 PATC Trail Map, the group went off trail onto the remains of an old road starting near where the A.T. meets the Saddleback Mountain Trail.  The roadbed was hard to follow at first, but later became very obvious.  The group followed this old roadbed to the old Spottswood Trail - the original route to the Shenandoah Valley, built in the 1800's and superseded in 1930 by the present alignment of the road, now better known as U.S. 33. Despite disappearing from trail maps over 75 years ago, the old Spottswood Trail was in beautiful shape, and the group spent the day looking for evidence of old houses and the old Big Bend School along their route.  Gabriel was the big winner, finding several old metal washbasins near the apparent location of the former school.  Michael Seth, who has hiked all trails in Shenandoah National Park, said it was great to explore new parts of the Park only a half hour drive from his home! Everyone enjoyed the exploration into the Park's past.