Soup Hike around Flattop Mountain - March 7, 2015

submitted by Iva Gillet

       After several weeks of snow, the planned hike to Keith Argow's cabin on Flattop Mountain had to be altered since he was unable to access the cabin and 4WD vehicle to get there. Hence, I resorted to my inaugural soup hike route, along the gravel roads of Flattop Mountain. Traveling clockwise, we walked the muddy, flat road along the Lynch River before ascending toward Simmons Gap. Our group of 14 consisted of: Brad Young, Pete and Bev Fink, Sunny Choi, Anne Colgate, Leon Gorman, Susanna Williams, Karen Ramsey, Carlos Espinoza, CJ Woodburn, David Crowe, Michael Seth, and Clai Lange. The 2.5 mile ascent allowed folks to hike at their own pace, with no chance of getting lost. While there were some steeper sections along Shifflett Road with icy patches, generally the roads were in great shape, despite the recent snowfall. We gathered at the pinnacle of today's hike, after an 1700 foot climb, and admired the view while we enjoyed a snack. Brad and Susanna charged ahead, leading us past Stone Mountain Winery, across Wyatt Mountain and in pursuit of soup. We finished the 8 mile loop in about 3 1/2 hours, and then returned to Briarleigh Farm for chili, chicken chili and beef stew that Bill Holman had been preparing for days, and that was piping hot upon our arrival. We enjoyed plenty of bread and soup, along with cheese, crackers, coffee cake and mints that hikers had provided. With the proposed route to be hiked another day, we enjoyed each others good company and great food.



Whetstone Ridge on St. Patrick's Day - March 17, 2015

Western view of Shenandoah Valley
Eastern view of Boston Mountain and Nettle Mountain
Mark Perschel, Dave Borszich, Pete Fink, Ann Colgate, Tom Cross, Irene Burke

St. Patrick's Day should be spent outdoors admiring the green of nature all around.  That is what a group of seven hikers did on March 17.  Hike leader, Marit Anderson, convened with the six trekkers in the photo above at the Whetstone Ridge Trail Center at MM29 on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  We shuttled Pete's truck to the southern trail head on Irish Creek Road 8 miles below the center and then began the hike a little before 9 am at the northern terminus.  The perfect day for a ridge hike with little leaf cover, high 60 degree temperatures, and a pleasant breeze made the outing even more enjoyable. 

Adams Peak nearby at 2,976 ft

Along South Mountain, the Whetstone Ridge Trail (the longest trail in the Pedlar District - George Washington National Forest) is a challenging 11.9 mile hike with the first 3 miles gradually descending, the next 6.5 miles having a series of sharp ascents and descents, and the last 2 miles descending on switch backs to the Irish Creek trail head.  We had various GPS trackings, but the elevation gain seemed to be around 1600 ft.  Highest point was at 3,167 ft. The group had a quick pace of 2.5 mph with lively conversation and much camaraderie.  We completed the hike at 3 pm and had some refreshments - thanks to Mark Trail.

Lunch time at 1 pm with chubby chews and chocolate for dessert

Irene and Ann follow the contours of the roller coaster trail

The path is marked by a yellow blaze

Bright yellow/green moss everywhere -  leprechaun's carpet

Six hours later the group is finished and ready for the shuttle back up to the Blue Ridge Parkway

 submitted by Marit Anderson


Patricia Ann Byrom Forest Preserve Hike - March 14, 2015

submitted by Marit Anderson

Rain was in the forecast, but the foursome of Leon Gorman, Brian Muszynski, Iva Gillet, and Marit Anderson (leader) were not deterred and luckily only had a few sprinkles in the parking lot of Albemarle High School.  The 5 mile hike at Patricia Ann Byrom Forest Preserve near White Hall proved to actually be warm and even sunny at points. Hilly terrain made for a good workout with 1200 ft elevation gain.  We did a nice loop starting with the Great Mountains Trail, to Blue Ledge Trail, continuing upward along the Little Flat Mountain Loop, and back towards the parking lot along the Blackwell's Trail. Brian and Marit did another short retrace along the Little Flat Mountain and Blue Ledge Trails to make it a bit longer. We had a nice view of Gibson Mountain and Blackwell Hollow at the overlook. Recent snow melt made the stream flowing well, but no major issues at water crossings.
After the hike we drove a short distance along Rt. 810 to enjoy lunch and a glass of wine at Stinson Vineyards.
Leon Gorman, Iva Gillet, Marit Anderson,  Brian Muszynski

We are happy it is not raining!

Push him in Iva!

Gibson Mountain

Brain does a little trail maintenance- cleaning up debris

Enjoying Stinson Vineyards