Torry Ridge and Sherando Lake - July 30, 2011

Considering that the hottest day of the summer was on Friday, Hike Leader Ken Moss felt fortunate to have eight people show up to hike on Saturday morning at Albemarle High School. After some discussion concerning the logistics of a car shuttle to and from the trailhead, we headed out in three vehicles for Sherando Lake. Upon arrival we redistributed swim gear into the one car that was to remain parked at the lake, then piled into the other two cars for the ride to the trailhead.
The Slacks Trail

We started at White Rock Gap, descending the White Rock Trail for a short distance before turning left onto the Slacks Trail. We immediately began a challenging, stiff climb...the only sustained climb of the hike. As it was still morning, the temperature was still in the upper 70's at this elevation, but the lack of a breeze and the steady climb made it feel warmer than it was, but still a big improvement over the previous day!

Upon turning onto the Torry Ridge Trail, we had one last taste of uphill climbing before transitioning to an easy, gentle downhill slope that continued for a couple of miles along the ridgeline. Once opposite the lower Sherando Lake, we turned onto the Blue Loop Trail for a steep descent broken only by a pause at a rock outcropping. We considered stopping for lunch with a view here, but with a strong sun and the beach below in view, we opted to continue to our objective.

Torry Ridge Trail
Upon arriving at Sherando Lake, we first found a shaded picnic table for a restful lunch. Several members commented on the enticing smells of grilled meat which wafted our way from time to time from neighboring picnickers. Following lunch we changed into swim suits and headed to the beach, where Pete and Bev Fink bobbed in the cool water near the beach while Dan Funkhouser, Marian Styles, John Shannon, Dennis Templeton and Ken swam out to the small island located off shore to explore. Helen Reutlinger remained on shore to watch everyone's gear. Everyone was surprised that the water wasn't colder, but it was still a pleasant cool-down following the hike.

Lunch at Sherando Lake
After changing back into hiking attire, we shuttled the two cars from the trailhead back down to the Lake and then all headed back toward Charlottesville, but not before stopping for refreshments at Devil's Backbone Brewing Company. Here we sat on the patio enjoying a mix of beverages, onion rings and hummus while watching a thunderstorm roll across the Blue Ridge into the Piedmont. We enjoyed watching the storm develop and were all pleased to have a front row seat for the action before finally heading back to town at the end of a fun and varied day among friends.
Devil's Backbone Brewing Company


The trails we walk on

July 2nd. White Oak Canyon-Cedar Run.

The hike on the White Oak Canyon-Cedar Run loop was for enjoyment, but without trails, or good trails, it would be impossible or unpleasant. It was interesting noting some changes on the trails. White Oak Canyon is the second most heavily used trail in the park, which means major erosion in spots. Reversing or controlling it will be a major project.

On White Oak Canyon, near the lower falls, a small colony of ailanthus, an invasive junk tree, seems established. Possibly controllable now by someone authorized to apply herbicide, but those people have many projects to tend to. On the fire road, there were a number of water run offs, about 4 feet wide. I wondered if a trail dozer had made them but perhaps it was a Bobcat or similar, with wheels instead of tracks. My fantasy is a trail dozer which would make some trail work much faster, but only a full time business could think of buying one. Cedar Run trail has recent, major treadwork to reverse past erosion and slow future erosion, namely a number of log steps, and some major drain digging. Further down, a scary sight of bittersweet growing in random spots. It might be possible to slow the spread of this tree killer, although the steep slopes make any trail work difficult in this spot.

July 16. Appalachian Trail, McCormick Gap

After tread work on the AT north of Turk Gap with the Flying McLeods, on the way out I stopped at McCormick Gap to tidy up a couple of things. A few weeks earlier, water diversions seemed to need cleaning, but on this day, with the tool and time to clean them, they did not seem to need much cleaning, which I did anyway. The good news is that this steep section of trail does not have an erosion problem. Then on to a patch of bittersweet a little further on where last year I thought I had almost eradicated this invasive plant. The spring growth showed I was still some way from that goal, so I continued to cut and pull bittersweet. The good news is that there is much less than there was a few years ago, and no trees are in imminent danger, and the area has not been taken over by other invasive plants yet.

John Shannon


Flying McLeods - July 16, 2011

John Shannon, Marit Gay, Richard Crisci, and Mark Gatewood and the  Flying McLeods Trail Crew worked on trail maintenance for the PATC on July 16. They did grading and water bar work on the AT trail from Turk Gap to Crimora Lake overlook.  All looks well and the Charlottesville Chapter invites hikers to help on the monthly trail work days.


Kaylor Knob - July 16, 2011

Hike Leader Michael Seth can always be counted on to pick hikes which are unknown to many of us living on this side of the Blue Ridge, but which he knows well due to his home in the Shenandoah Valley. This Saturday found us on a hike in the Lee Ranger District of George Washington National Forest, just north of Massanutten Resort.

Ken Moss gathered the small flock of 9 hikers meeting at AHS, including first-timers Shari and David Drubin, and headed for the Valley via Swift Run Gap, picking up Marian Styles and Briana Taylor along the way in Ruckersville. At the trailhead at Runkles Gap we linked up with Michael as well as Nancy Hall and Greg Fife.

We then headed up the trail at a leisurely pace, following along Boone Run through an area which underwent a controlled burn several years ago. Boone Run was quite timid with little water flow and easy to cross. At Boone Run Shelter we paused for a short rest and discussion about various oddities in its construction, while Don Davis discovered a small flask of Black Velvet in the rafters.

Following this stop we retraced our steps a few hundred feet before heading south along the Second Mountain Trail. This involved a gradual climb to the ridgeline, from which we had occasional views toward the Page Valley and Blue Ridge to our east and Fourth Mountain to our west. We finally reached the summit of Kaylor Knob, at 2,850 feet, where we paused for lunch and white chocolate macadamia nut cookies, while enjoying the view eastward.

The hike back down the mountain was uneventful, and some began to wonder about the advertised swim hole, believing that it would prove to be a myth. Michael Seth kept is in limbo, until just within sight of the cars he indicated a side trail which took us to a nice pool at the base of a small falls. As usual, Marian, Ken, Dan Funkhouser, Greg and Neil McKinney took to the water for a cooling dunk or wading in the shallows, while Rita Kiefer, Helen Reutlinger, and Briana watched from the surrounding rocks. This was a refreshing way to end a hike on a summer day! Afterwards, at least one car load of hikers managed to find their way to Hank's Smokehouse in McGaheysville for some well deserved barbecue to celebrate their day's exploits!


Saint Marys River - July 9, 2011

We have become accustomed to the large crowds that gather whenever Iva Gillet leads a hike, and this hike was no exception. Iva's magnetic aura attracted 26 takers this time around by the time we all gathered at the trailhead along the George Washington National Forest boundary. After another hot, stifling week in Central Virginia, the possibility of splashing around in a cool mountain stream proved to be an attraction too hard to pass up for many.

The weather on this day proved to be an improvement over what we experienced during the week, and unexpected cloudiness combined with the natural air flows of cooler air spilling down the canyon from higher elevations resulted in pleasantly cool breezes as we hiked the gradual climb along the Saint Marys River. Following the heavy rains earlier in the week we were relieved to find that the river was not running high due to rain runoff. We crossed back and forth across the stream numerous times as the sometimes rough trail lead us toward our first stop.

The first pool we found was stunning in its crystalline clarity and inviting turquoise depth. The conditions were simply spectacular and too good for our swimmers to pass up. Jackie Willson and Marian Styles were soon found in the pool, to be followed by Dan Funkhouser, Debra Fisher and Ken Moss, among others. After a refreshing pause, we hit the trail again and headed toward our final destination.

After only a short distance we came to the falls along the Saint Marys River and settled in for more swimming and a leisurely lunch. The challenge of a cliff dive into the deep pool at the foot of the falls brought out the daring in Iva, Rob Umbereer and Norman Beilt. John Shannon and Meg Challand were among the expanded list of swimmers at this location. Among those who didn't want to completely immerse themselves, several enjoyed taking off their boots and dangling their feet in the cool water. Bill Holman took in much of the scene while perched on a rock high above the river.

Following the extended stay at the falls we packed up and headed down the trail toward the cars. Afterwards most participants made a beeline for the Stuarts Draft Dairy Queen, which we overwhelmed for a short time as twenty-some people lined up for frozen delights to end a wonderful day. Other participants on this day included: Jolie Huddman, Lindsay Brown, Pete & Bev Fine, Don Davis, Alex Popkin, Rita Keifer, Helen Reutlinger, Steven Cohen, Charlotte Balkenbush, Lyn Swinford, Eve Stahl, Chiora Waters, and Katherine Hamilton.


White Oak Canyon/Cedar Run Loop - July 2, 2011

July 2 provided for a wonderful day of hiking on the White Oak Canyon - Cedar Run Loop. John Shannon and Marit Gay led the hike and seven other hikers joined them including Lindsay Brown, Dan Funkhouser, Karen Rockwell, Liz Lyons, Don Davis, Sue Tansy and Marian Styles.

The weather was hot, but perfect to take advantage of the many pools and waterfalls on the way.

The trek began at the bottom of White Oak Canyon and proceeded up to the Upper Falls for a lunch break. There was a brief swimming time to cool off some of the steamy hikers early on.

After lunch the group made their way towards the Skyline Drive and branched over the White Oak Canyon Fire Road/Horse Trail to eventually meet the Cedar Run Trail. Finally the upward climb was over and then the trail wound down the rocky Cedar Run Trail, continuing along many water falls and pools.

We took the mandatory break to ride the water slide. Don, Marian, John and Marit provided the entertainment while the others rested. We finished the day of 8 miles of hiking around 4 PM. It was enjoyed by all!