It was a day of firsts. In the first of more to come, the PATC - Charlottesville Chapter and PATC - Southern Shenandoah Valley Chapter embarked on a joint hike with subsequent potluck and optional stay at PATC's Conley Cabin in the 300 acre Vining Tract. Not just the first joint hike, but this was also the first organized hike on this property. Perfect weather for hiking, in the 60's with sunny skies, as hike leader extraordinaire Iva Gillet greeted 21 hikers with the accompaniment of 3 canine hikers this day.
We began our 5 1/2 mile loop along the Boundary Trail with a climb and found that we will need to return for some trail clearing due to several blow-downs along the trial. We then descended the trail toward Mutton Top Cabin and made a side trip to a hidden cemetery that trail map volunteer Bill Holman had discovered earlier. Passing Mutton Top, we stopped by an impressive chimney on our way to Johnson Cabin. After a brief trip to an unmarked overlook, Howard and June Ratcliffe headed to Conley for lunch since they needed to return early. Water was gushing from rocky cliffs as we proceeded on an old CCC road toward an unmarked trail that would take us toward the Vining Cabin. There was some grumbling as we ascended a very steep section of trail and then descended on an equally steep downhill with water flowing though the trail. However, the views and beauty of the day made up for the challenge.
We had a lunch break beside Caddies Run in Falls Hollow, a flowing stream where Ken Moss found a red salamander. Brian Muszynski and Beulah sighted a bear as they were out front. After a peaceful waterside break, we continued on to the Vining Cabin. As no one was in residence, we were able to walk around the lovely home and enjoy the view from the porch. During this break, Beulah and Tom Johnson's clever dog, Sam, retrieved sticks for whoever would throw them. After admiring the setting and amenities of the Vining Cabin, our group proceeded onward for the final climb.
We twisted our way up the mountain toward Conley and the side trip to Morris cabin was abandoned for the thought of a cold beverage on arrival at the cabin. While Marie Moss and Michelle Faragan departed for an early return trip to Charlottesville, the rest of us gathered potluck items and our beverages and enjoyed the view and camaraderie. It was a great opportunity for Michael Seth and Jean Fraser to compare hiking exploits with Tom Johnson, Karen Ramsey, and Bryan Bruns. We were able to persuade Marian Styles and Andy Willgruber to stick around before departing for their evening commitments (Andy's stash of dark chocolate was the deal clencher for Marian).
Chapter presidents Lindsay Brown and Karen Waterman were able to discuss their PATC leadership challenges. Dan Ralston and Ken Moss were seen appreciating the taste of a good brew after a good hike. Jim Stephens had guarded the cabin all day, while reading, and was on hand to spearhead the grill. Teresa was cabin hostess as she is recovering from a hurt knee. Many hands helped organize the feast and we were well underway when Mark and Betty Gatewood emerged from their water bar work trip. John Shannon, never satisfied if there is work still to do, arrived later to enjoy the fun. Bev and Pete Fink provided bean salad, while Don Davis' deviled eggs were also popular.
As the sun began to set, those who remained were able to enjoy the amazing view from Brian Muszynski's telescope. He was able to find Monticello before the sun set. With the full moon rising, we were given close appreciation of the rabbit image on the moon and its radiance. We hope to enjoy future fellowship of joint hikes and other cabin stays. It's the best part of the PATC!