Furnace Mountain, January 25, 2014

Reported by John Shannon

As common on a day when Skyline Drive is closed, snow is on the ground, and the temperature is chill, the hike was a short, uphill hike to Furnace Mountain. Even with this hike well matched to conditions, only Brian Muszynski showed up. We decided to maintain tradition and hold a hike because two or more people showed up.

Starting point on  Madison Run
Fire Road
Shenandoah Valley from trail

The highest spot of ground
on Furnace Mountain

At the trailhead, we saw three cars whose bumper stickers and license plates showed that the owners are probably AT and SNP hikers. As expected, the climb early on warmed us up, leading to removal of a layer of clothing. Particularly on Furnace Mountain summit, we heard a strong wind above us but felt it only occasionally.

We had the food, where were the
After enjoying the sight of snow-covered country, we headed down. We saw fresh footprints of others who were on the trail and saw that others had headed up Madison Fire Road. We stopped under a rocky overhang for lunch with enough hot chocolate, ginger cake, and pumpkin spice cake for many more than two people.

Although we may have seen distant snow showers in the forecast, we also saw bright sunshine during our short hiking day.
Massanutten Mountain from
Furnace Mountain summit
From Furnace Mountain summit

AT work trip, January 18, 2014

Reported by John Shannon
This month’s work trip followed several days with strong wind, so we expected numerous fallen branches on the club’s section of the Appalachian Trail, and maybe even some large downed trees. Plan A was to walk from McCormick Gap to Rockfish Gap, clearing fallen wood and recording the location of trees too big to cut. Plan B then came into operation because Skyline Drive was closed, so we all met at Rockfish Gap for an out-and-back trip. Iva recruited more people than we have seen on a work trip for a long time, or ever, with a post-hike plan to go to McGuffey Art Center to view an exhibit with artist himself—our own Dave Borszich—explaining the exhibit.

After Iva and her group arrived at Rockfish Gap, we headed out of the cold wind funneled through Rockfish Gap and started trudging through the snow. However, we found only a few twigs to remove from the trail and an occasional shrubby plant looking like it would grow into the trail one day. At the halfway point, Iva and others took an old road to Skyline Drive to head back, while five of us headed on, only to find nothing significant to clear.

Brian Muszynski and Dave Borszich surged ahead to catch up with the rest of their group while John Herrity, his friend Mark and I moved a little slower and made a lunch stop on the drive.

The snow was not deep enough to keep our feet in place but deep enough to make a slippery layer that caused several falls. One spot where I expected the trail to be covered with ice had flowing water, which made passage easier. A day later, Pete Fink walked the section and found the hard hat that I lost. Also on the hike were Sunny Choi, Linda Ginsteng, and Rich Bard.


White Oak Canyon January 4, 2014

While the forecast was for cold temperatures, that did not keep 11 of us from heading to White Oak Canyon for a little blood pumping exercise. After all, how cold can it be when you are walking uphill beside a lovely, rain-swollen waterfall? Dan had chosen this hike as a benefit from the recent rains. We did enjoy a bright, clear day with minimal crowds and a nicely flowing waterfall. We saw a few frozen icicles as we climbed, but by the time of our descent, many were melting and falling to the ground. We climbed to the top of the 2nd falls where we had our lunch and enjoyed the warm sunshine. This day we returned as we had come, leaving the full circle including Cedar Run for a day with more daylight. This was the first of many hikes for us in 2014.

Today’s hearty souls were: Bev and Pete Fink, Joanne Davis, Katherine Maus, Brian Musynski, Dave Borszich, Bill Holman, Jeanne Densmore, CJ Woodburn, Iva Gillet and Dan Ralston. 


Old Stoney Creek/Shamokin Falls and Rockfish Valley Trails - January 11, 2014

Emerald, John, Leon, Brian, Dan, Jeanne, David, Marit, and Iva before hiking up Old Stoney Creek Trail
Ten hard core hikers met on rainy January 11 - ready to hit the trails in rain gear and high spirits.  Hike leader, Marit Gay, and assistant, Mark Trail, had arranged a two part hike from their locale near Wintergreen to walk some of the beautiful Nellysford valley trails.  Both leaders had to work at 2:30 pm, so the intent was to hike about 6 miles on 2 sets of trails,  stop for refreshments at Bold Rock Cidery, then head back up the mountain. The rest of the hikers could linger on at the cidery as they wished.
Dan and Jeanne snackin' at Lower Shamokin Falls
The group met at AHS including Leon Gorman, Dan Ralston, Jeanne Densmore, Emerald Young, Iva Gillet, Brian Muszynski, Marit, and Mark and then drove out towards Nellysford meeting David Ledbetter and John Brandt.  First we walked the 2 mile ascent up Old Stoney Creek to Lower Shomokin Falls, which is part of the Wintergreen trail system.  We had periodic showers, but warmer temperatures and reprieves from the downpour actually made for fairly pleasant hiking.  The creek was high from all the rain providing interesting scenery, especially at the falls.  Icicles decorated some of the rocks, one of the highlights of winter.
Emerald and Marit are happy to be hiking
After the out and back, and a snack break of homemade cookies, we convened at the cars and made our way to the Rockfish Valley Trail Foundation trail head along the Rockfish River.  We had intended to hike from the Rockfish Historical Center near Spruce Creek and connect with the Rockfish River Trail, but timing did not permit this.  Marit did show the members how the system is connected via the posted area map.  We made our way for about 2 miles along the Rockfish River Trail, admiring the high water and wishing we had kayaks to play in the small rapids!
Finally, we climbed back in our cars for the mile jaunt down Rt. 151 to Bold Rock Cidery.
Brian, Iva, and others enjoying Bold Rock Cidery
Refreshments included donuts from Carpe Donut and hard cider from Bold Rock.  Guitarist, Gary Randall, was an added bonus to the festive atmosphere. Some enjoyed their brown bag lunches and cider tastings too.  We all managed to have quite a nice day, despite the rain - getting some fresh air and exercise with some good hiking companions.  Marit plans to lead a similar hike again in the spring or summer, hopefully with better weather, so check the postings.

Mark and Leon
David, Dan, and Jeanne


Rapidan Camp 28 December 2013

Reported by John Shannon

A warmer than normal day have brought out twelve people today, and on arrival at Bootens Gap, we met David Brown and Lindsay Brown, but winter conditions in the form of a cold wind had us reaching for warm clothing. The uphill was probably good for warming us up as we walked on frozen ground and even sheets of ice under the surface. By the time we reached Milam Gap, conditions were warmer. Three people turned around either to move house or to rest knees. The three stream crossings to Rapidan Camp did not cause any falls. On the deck of the main house, we found a sunbathing John Brandt, who was asked if he swam, walked or materialized there. A majority of the group chose the warmer part of the deck. Perhaps it was the proximity to Christmas feasts that left some of a small communal chocolate cake uneaten. Before getting too cold, we headed out, uphill along Laurel Prong Trail, which in some sections was a shallow stream bed. John Brandt returned to Cat Knob area thinking that a dog he heard earlier may have belonged to people who were looking for their dog. People on the trail today were John Herrity, who went on a work trip before coming on his first hike with this group, Rich Collins, David Carter, Brad Young, Dan Ralston, Jeanne Densmore, C. J. Woodburn, Laurie Schmid, Karl Schmid, Anne Colgate, Marian Styles

This was the first time some people had walked these trails and seen Rapidan Camp. These people found the views very enjoyable and the camp fascinating.