Albright Loop/A.T./Humpback Rock - December 20, 2014

 submitted by Barbara Martin

Barbara Martin co-lead a circuit hike from Humpback Rock parking lot with Andy Wilgruber.  This was Barbara's third hike as co-leader and she was anxious to earn her PATC hike leader "badge".  Andy arrived ahead of schedule with a group of 10 including Lindsay Brown, Pete and Bev Fink, Wanda Hamler, Leon Gorman, Suzanna Williams, Jeanne Densmore, Dan Ralston, David Crowe and C J Woodburn.  Barbara and Claire Cline met the group at the parking lot.  We hiked the Allbright Loop Trail to it's intersection with the Appalachian Trail south.  Although Dan tried to dissuade Barbara from her intended route we proceeded according to plan on the AT south.  We made our first stop at the Glass Hollow Overlook with an amazing view of the Rockfish Valley.  We hiked another 4 miles with respectable elevation to the intersection of the blue-blazed trail to Humpback Rock.  Everyone's stomachs were grumbling at this point, so there was a rush to the Rock to have lunch, which included Newtown Bakery cookies brought by Barbara and a great assortment of candy brought by Andy.  Although it was calm on Humpback Rock we grew quickly chilly and descended to the parking lot, carefully avoiding large icy patches.  It was a wonderful winter solstice eve hike.


Riprap Hollow - December 16, 2014

Mark Perschel, Barbara Martin, and Scott Davis at the start

Horsehead and Trayfoot Mts.
Barbara Martin met Marit Anderson, Mark Perschel, and Scott Davis at Rockfish Gap and led us to the valley trailhead for the Riprap Hollow circuit hike.  It was an interesting approach to come up from near Crimora Lake off of Rt. 340, and it also added a few miles to the circuit making it an 11.3 mile hike.  Barbara (leader) had a nasty fall over the weekend, so she helped us start the trek and then turned back after the second stream crossing.  Marit took charge and continued with the intended route from the Riprap Trail, up to Chimney Rock, past Calvary Rocks, and in the Shenandoah National Park along the Skyline Drive where we had lunch on the Appalachian Trail.  Paine Run provided small falls, pools, and at least 4 stream crossings. Our highest point was at 2,997 ft. with views of Horsehead Mountain, Trayfoot Mountain, and the Shenandoah Valley.
Marit and Scott amongst the many rock formations
      The second half of the day we continued two miles south on the AT and then descended down Wildcat Ridge Trail with much evidence of the three fires of the 1990's.  There was an understory of mountain laurel, azalea, sassafras, and catawba rhododendron.  We need to go back in late May or early June to see these thickets in full bloom. Turkeybeard was another interesting plant we saw, a relative to the Western bear grass. A summer outing would also allow us to swim or wade in the many pools. Gotta go back!
Scott perched on Calvary Rocks
We finished by reuniting with the Riprap Trail and recrossing the streams of the Paine Run watershed on our way back to the cars. Six hours of hiking and we experienced rain, snow, ice, fog, and sunshine.  All in all, a fine day in the mountains.

 submitted by Marit Anderson


Turk Mountain/Morman River - November 22, 2014

We had a great turnout for a hike with 2 options.  Barbara Martin and Dan Ralston led a 10 mile Turk Mountain/Morman River circuit hike and Bill Holman led a shorter hike.  Both hikes started at Jarman Gap in Shenandoah National Park.  We were blessed with a nearly perfect day--dazzling blue skies, a bit of nip in the air that became warmer as the day progressed.  There were eleven in our group, a combination of old timers:  Barbara, Dan, Leon Gorman, Kelly O'Rourke, Jeanne Densmore, Dave Burszich and Michael Seth, two newcomers, Mike Neillo, who drove to meet us all the way from Reston, Linda Scandore, who hikes with the Senior Hikers frequently and has completed 1000 miles of Camino de Santiago in Spain and Ned May, who has joined the group once before.  We headed north on the A T and then took a spur trail to the glorious viewpoint on Turk Mountain, where we had lunch.  Luckily there was very little wind on the rocks, making for a pleasant break.  Barbara took her responsibility as hike leader seriously and brought out home-made peanut butter, chocolate chip cookies, which were devoured quickly.  We returned to the AT on the spur trail and headed north again, crossing Skyline Drive for the second time, which Barbara kept referring to as the Blue Ridge Parkway, confusing everyone.  At this point we headed down, down, down on the Turk Branch Trail with several pretty stream crossings, until we intersected with Morman River Fire Road.  Then it was a steady 2 mile uphill climb back to the parking lot.  The last half of the hike was on a nice wide trail leaving plenty of opportunity for conversation and future hike planning.


Turk Gap to Jarman Gap - November 22, 2014

submitted by Iva Gillet

On the lovely sunny Fall day, 8 hikers preferred Bill Holman’s shorter hike option of ½ the distance of Barbara’s hike. So Lindsay Brown, John Shannon, Marian Styles, Brian Muszynski, Wanda Hamlin, and Iva Gillet joined Eric Bredo, home for a weekend visit from Canada, on the 5 mile hike option. We enjoyed the descent from Turk Gap through the rustling leaves. At one of our snack breaks, in response to the pre-hike advisory of carrying 2 liters of water, Brian was concerned that he hadn’t brought so much on such a nice day. Eric mentioned that perhaps Gunga Din could bring him some water, prompting a discussion about this Rudyard Kipling poem of a boy who carried water in a goat’s skin. Since none of us were dehydrated, we continued to the Fire Road where we had lunch. Since we were finished lunch at noon, Iva proposed a slightly longer detour to allow for another ½ hour of hiking, so we headed toward Blue Hole and the Sugar Hollow Reservoir as a short out and back. Upon returning to the lunch spot, Bill herded us up the fire road to Jarman’s Gap. Brian was able to sell John Shannon’s handmade wool hat back to him for 2 cents, after finding it and conducting a quick auction.  Since we had a quick group of hikers, we returned to Jarman’s Gap by 2 PM and then headed off to our various afternoon and evening activities. 

Cold Mountain - November 15, 2014

submitted by Iva Gillet

Bill Holman shepherded 14 hikers on this circuit hike at the amazing Mt. Pleasant Scenic Area during lingering high leaf color. The group hiked clockwise through the apple orchard and Boy Scout campsites and enjoyed lunch at the AT Cow Camp Gap shelter before the steep climb up to the AT.  The views from the AT were unobstructed.  Upon arriving at the wide open vista the group paused for a snack and to enjoy the 360 degree views.

Hikers included: CJ Woodburn, David Crowe, Leon Gorman, Susanna Williams, Brian Muszynski, Karen Ramsey, Wanda Hamlin, Claire Cline, Pete and Bev Fink, Rich Bard, Jackie Nasca, and Tom and Ellen Shields.