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. “]


Big Devils Stairs Adventure Hike - October 29, 2016


Saturday, October 29, ten hikers including leaders Pete Fink and Marit Anderson met up at different points and eventually arrived at Gravel Springs Gap in the Shenandoah National Park to do an adventure hike that Pete and Marit had attempted before - hike down the Big Devils Stairs Trail but return through the gorge where the original trail had been many years before.  Two years ago this had been too wet and slick to attempt, but this day the conditions were perfect- dry and warm.  The group included John Brandt, David Crowe, Trude Havik, Marie Moss, Dave Borszich, Michael Seth, Gabriel Garretson, and Iva Gillet with Remy, super hiking dog.
We hiked down the fire road to the Bluff Trail and then the Big Devils Stairs Trail.  The views from the outlying rocks were spectacular.  Colors were at their peak.  We enjoyed a snack, took photos, and continued down to the creek bed below.
Iva and Remy admire the gorge

Trude - happy this visiting Norwegian professor joined us

Marit - glad to be out on a gorgeous day

Once we got to the southern terminus of the existing trail we had lunch and then used GPS and the rock stream bed to follow back up to the top.  Lots of boulders, downed trees, overgrown brush, poison ivy, nettles, and creek water to contend with, making it an adventure for sure.
Gabriel and others enjoy lunch and homemade dark chocolate multi-chip cookies

Dave, artist and hiker, contemplates the ascent.  Phew!

David is ready to go!

Marie and Iva just keep climbing

Pete - the leader - takes a breather

 Remy was the happiest dog ever today!
John ran, climbed, swam, and helped the whole gang

The day ended late, a long haul for many, but we all made it to the top and rejoined the Bluff Trail making our way back to the parking lot.  We hiked only 5.84 miles, but the mile steep ascent with 1,406 ft. gain over all the obstacles on a warm day, was a work-out comparable to hiking in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  Great job everyone!  Pete and Marit will keep you posted for our next grand adventure.

submitted by Marit Anderson