Winter Solstice Dobie Mountain Hike - December 21, 2016

submitted by Barbara Martin

     Two hikers, Marley McGrath and Howard Davis joined hike leader, Barbara Martin for a winter solstice hike on a beautiful clear winter day.  We hiked a short distance from the Humpback Rock parking area to the AT and headed north to the Paul Wolfe Shelter.  We noticed the granite bench is missing at the shelter.  Anyone know what happened to it?  We ate lunch at the shelter and retraced our steps to the Allbright Loop Trail, returning to the parking lot.  Howard was a wealth of information about these trails, as he was part of relocating the AT in this section.

Appalachian Trail from Punchbowl to James River - December 18, 2016

submitted by Jeff Monroe

     The Charlottesville Chapter's Sunday, December 18 hike joined 5 chapter members with  6 members of the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club for a series of hikes at the far southern border of the George Washington National Forest.  Charlottesville Chapter members included Marley McGrath, Patrick Cory, Barbara Martin, Kelly O'Rourke, and hike leader Jeff Monroe. Because weather forecasts predicted 55 mph winds at elevations above 2,000 feet with off and on rain, the group decided to travel at low elevations.  The hikes included the old (pre-2000) A.T. the Cashaw Creek Trail, the current A.T. between Hercules Road and the Johns Hollow Shelter, and the Sheppe Pond Trail.  Rains held off except during lunch, which most of the group consumed inside the Johns Hollow Shelter.  Most of the group had never hiked several of the trails in the day's Figure 8 hike, and enjoyed seeing some new parts of the National Forest. 

Geology Hike Skyland North to Corbin Cabin - November 19, 2016

submitted by Dave Bennick

     Malcolm Cameron was the hike leader.  Malcolm has a great deal of knowledge about geology and had agreed to lead a maximum of fifteen hikers on a geology hike.  The final tally was 18 including Malcolm.  The hike started in Shenandoah National Park at Skyland North with a side trip to Stony Man Mountain, then northward to the Nicholson Hollow Trail descending to Corbin Cabin and returning to Skyline Drive via the Corbin Cabin Cutoff Trail.  The objective was to see several geologic formations, cascading streams and more.  The elevation drop was 2,000 feet followed by a gain of 1,200 feet.  The hike was billed as 7 miles, but it seemed a lot longer.  We started with 60 degrees in the morning, but by the afternoon, it was in the 30’s with high winds and a few ice pellets falling. On the way home while driving on Skyline Drive we saw bears in two different places along the route.


Little Devils Stairs Figure 8 - December 1, 2016

submitted by Jeff Monroe     

     The December 1 midweek PATC hike saw only 3 hikers complete a 10.8 mile figure 8 loop in Shenandoah's North District that included the Little Devil's Stairs Trail, the Sugarloaf Trail, a section of the A.T., and the Keyser Run Road.  The hikers were Marit Anderson, Mark Trail, and hike leader Jeff Monroe. A brisk, clear day helped move the hikers along, and the hike leader successfully completed his "Shenandoah 500," hiking all of the 500+ miles of Shenandoah trails and fire roads. Upon completing this hike, at Mark Trail's suggestion, the hike leader celebrated the Shenandoah 500 completion by weakly attempting to climb one of Shenandoah National Park's ever present concrete mileage posts.  It was not pretty!  After the hike, Marit and Mark camped in Shenandoah's 30 degree overnight weather even though Mark was sick as a dog. Why? Because they are crazy people.


Austin Mountain Trail - December 10, 2016

Participants included Dan Ralston, Jeanne Densmore, Claire Cline, Taylor Putney, Art Bykonen, Patrick Cory, Marley McGrath, Anne Colgate, Mark Gatewood, Iva Gillet and Remy (pup). Not pictured: Mark Perschel.  John Brandt was on the trail, but was not able to connect with the group.

December 10 was a cold, windless day starting in the low 30's.  Marit Anderson was supposed to lead the hike, but a family medical emergency took her to Northern Virginia instead.  Fortunately her boyfriend, Mark Perschel, had pre-hiked the Austin Mt. Trail with her a few weeks earlier, so he was in charge of the day.  The group of ten other hikers met at Rockfish Gap and also at the trail head on Rt. 663 near Grottoes.  The route was begun at the western edge of the Shenandoah National Park and went up the Austin Mountain Trail, intersecting at the Rocky Top Trail, and then returning down the Madison Run Fire Road. Total mileage for the day was 9.6 miles with 1,603 ascent - with 1,000 ft elevation gain in the first mile. The talus slope and rocky terrain on the way up made for some tricky footing, but the descent was gentle down the fire road.  Interesting points along the way included discussion of the worm holes on the rocks, speculation about the area when the furnace was being used, and enjoying the ridge line views of Furnace Mountain, Trayfoot Mountain and the Shenandoah Valley.  Mark Gatewood did some trail maintenance by taking care of a blowdown. Everyone seemed happy with the hike and the day....glad Mark Trail could make it happen.

submitted by Marit Anderson


Rapidan Camp Reverse Circuit Hike - November 26, 2016

submitted by Gabriel Garretson

     Fourteen hikers including hike leader, Gabriel Garretson went on a moderate 7.7 mile circuit hike with 1500 feet of ascent and 4 streams crossings. We starting at Milam Gap, hiking south on the AT to the Hazeltop summit. We then took the Laurel Prong trail to Rapidan Camp where we had lunch. After lunch we returned to Milam Gap on the Mill Prong trail. In addition to Gabriel, the after Thanksgiving hiking group included CJ Woodburn, David Crowe, Debra Fisher, Ginny Barber, John Brandt, John Shannon, Marian Styles, Marie Moss, Nancy Handley, Neil McKinney, Patrick Cory, Suzanna Williams and Wanda Hamlin.   The hike was cold and windy when we started, but we warmed up quickly, hiking the first 2 miles at a fast 3mph pace. The initial descent on the Laurel Prong trail provide provided excellent ridge views to the north. Everyone also enjoyed visiting historic Rapidan Camp and Big Rock Falls was impressive even with lower water levels. We also acknowledge three other hikers from Maryland (Cesar, Victor and Mags) that attempted to join our hike, but were 25 minutes late getting to the trailhead. They were only 5 minutes behind our group but we did not know that until after the hike was over. They did an alternative retrace hike on the AT.


Riprap Hollow/Wildcat Ridge Circuit Hike - November 12, 2016

submitted by Barbara Martin

     Five hikers joined hike leader, Barbara Martin on a crisp November day with clear blue skies for a circuit hike in Shenandoah National Park.  Lindsay Brown, John Sinclair, Andre Meyer John Brandt and a visitor from Norway, Trude Havik joined Barbara for a circuit hike including the Appalachian Trail, Rip Rap Trail and Wildcat Ridge Trail.  We were treated with great views from Chimney Rock with most of the leaves gone from the trees and the trail following a spring fed stream in a small gorge in Cold Springs Hollow.  We met many fellow hikers, families and canine pals along the way.


Spy Rock Moonlight Hike - October 15,2016

submitted  by Iva Gillet

     It was the night of the “Hunter’s moon” and we had two hikes planned to see the concurrent sunset and moonrise. The earlier hike was attended by Jacque Ensign, Jayne Mayne, Lisa Lampe and Maxwell, John Brandt, Brad Young, and Nancy Handley who joined hike leader Iva Gillet on an eight mile hike to Seely-Woodward shelter using the old AT, the new AT, and the Lovingston Springs trail before returning to Spy Rock. This creative loop was pulled from hike leader Jeff Monroe’s blog of less travelled trails:
     We hiked this remote area enjoying the yellow leaves, abandoned orchard, and peaceful tranquility of the woods. We scurried along in order to witness the big event- sunset and moonrise. The final ascent to the top tested our wind, but more noticeable was the huge number of folks camping below Spy Rock this warm weekend. There were tents thickly spread out throughout the area between the AT and Spy Rock. The other noticeable factor that overwhelmed us was the impending fog that continued to roll in as we looked for sunset. We joined up with Bill Holman’s group of Sunny Choi, Carol Wise, Neil McKinney, and Jeanne Siler who had arrived to Spy Rock just ahead of the other group. Unfortunately late arrivals of both groups meant that Gabriel Garretson and Dave Bennick did not join up with us, and also were disappointed by the fog. While we enjoyed our picnic dinners and lots of amazing treats hoping the fog would lift, after an hour we descended with the knowledge that Mother Nature has her own plans. And as we descended, there was less fog and after we reached the cars, the huge full moon could be seen. Upon returning to Charlottesville we discovered that the awesome moon was visible to all, without hiking or fog. However, we enjoyed our adventure and will hope to meet the moon next time.


Neighbor Mountain/Jeremys Run Hike - October 22, 2016

submitted by Gabriel Garretson

     Seven hikers including hike leader, Gabriel Garretson went on a strenuous 11.3 miles shuttle hike with 2300 feet of ascent and 16 streams crossings. We started at the Neighbor Mountain parking area and finished at the Elkwallow picnic area. We had seven hikers from three diverse groups including Gabriel, Dan Ralston, and Jeanne Densmore from Cville PATC, Van Waldo and Bill Conley from the Luray hiking group, plus Joe Harber and Bill Graves from the PATC Meetup group. Claire Cline also deserves special credit for assisting Gabriel with the pre-hike.  The hike was cold and windy when we started but we warmed up as we climbed to Neighbor Mountain Summit. The moderate descent to Jeremey’s Run provided incredible views. Everyone enjoyed 16 stream crossing (only one person got shoes wet) during the gradual five mile climb up Jeremy’s Run. The last mile was steeper but everyone was up to the challenge.

[“We are thankful for three others that made a best effort to also join this remote hike but were unable meetup due to a lack of phone connection at the trailhead. As a result, we are changing pre-hike procedures to minimize the chance of this happening again. “]