Mint Springs Park Hike- October 14, 2017

With a forecast of drizzle and fog, it was a nice surprise to have seven hikers on the Mint Springs Park hike in western Albemarle County including David Crowe, Nancy Handly, Emerald Young (taking the photo), John Brandt, Jeanne Siler, Brad Young and hike leader, Marit Anderson.  We started out in fog, but actually the morning ended up being cool and overcast...perfect for hiking.  We circumnavigated the trails with the Fire Trail, Big Survey Trail, Little Yellow Mountain Trail, Hollow Trail, and the various lake trails.  A nice variety of ascents, descents, and flat trail clocking in at 4.88 miles and 779 ft of elevation gain.  We hiked for a little over two hours and then enjoyed our lunches by the upper lake at a covered picnic area discussing everything from health care, housing market, and catching up on each other's lives.  As we ended, the sun came out in full blast with humidity and temperatures rising.  We were all glad to have our exercise completed for the day as we went on our way!
In the distance is King Family Vineyards

This choking vine really made this tree "twisted"
Upper lake...a calm place to be

Now the fishing begins

We are ready for lunch

submitted by Marit Anderson


Crescent Rock/Upper Whiteoak Canyon Falls Retrace - August 5, 2017

submitted by Jeanne Nicholson Siler & Gabriel Garretson

With 75 individually named, pull-off-style overlooks along the Skyline Drive within Shenandoah National Park, you might wonder why anyone would trek up and down the mountain sides for miles in order to catch a good view.

An 86-foot waterfall is reason enough.

More than a dozen PATC members from both the Charlottesville and others from the PATC meetup group combined efforts on Saturday, August 5, to hike more than seven miles, first down and then up, for the chance to have a picnic lunch on a giant slab of rock overlooking the upper reaches of Whiteoak Canyon Falls.  With hike leader Gabriel Garretson in the lead and Lindsey Brown following as sweep, and 12 other hikers including Anne Colgate, CJ Woodburn, David Crowe, Dennis Templeton, Heather Stewart, Jeanne Siler, Jennifer Dice, John Brandt, Marian Styles, Patrick Cory, Schanna Chilcote, and Susan Lopez headed off from between mileposts 44 & 45 in the Central District of the Park after leaving cars at the Crescent Rock Overlook parking area. Hikers hailed from as far off as Fredericksburg and northern Virginia to join the group, testimony to the draw of PATC online posts of hiking schedules.

First stop was the under-appreciated Crescent Rock vista, barely minutes from the Crescent Rock parking lot’s southern end, (with no sign) but offering great views of Luray and the Shenandoah Valley to the west. 

Betty’s Rock trail, advertised as part of the day’s three-view adventure, ended up off limits.

A park ranger encountered just north of the parking lot declared the overgrown 0.7 mile route closed because of the growth of rare plants growing along the trail and near the rock. Rumors were spreading all summer about why such an accessible path from such a little-used parking lot might be restricted (including the possibility that rattlesnakes, hardly an endangered species, were repeatedly spotted in that area.)  Our leader, however, shifted gears easily enough and took his hikers ambling gently down the Crescent Rock Trail for a little over a mile before hitting a section of the wide and handicapped-accessible Limberlost Trail. A side trek to check out the almost boggy origins of the Whiteoak Canyon River made up for missing Betty and her rocks. A turnaround onto the Whiteoak Canyon Falls trail kept hikers paralleling the river (as it grew in size and the path narrowed) on the way to our obvious lunch spot with a spectacular perspective of the upper falls, the largest of six significant falls along the popular Whiteoak Canyon Trail. Many hikers are likely familiar with this view, but take a more difficult hike up the Whiteoak Canyon Trail from Route 600, south of Old Rag, rather than the downhill approach from Skyline Drive.

It was the kind of low-humidity Saturday, a true oddity for any day in August, that pulled hundreds of visitors away from their homes and toward the parks’ trails, making for especially dense lines of cars near the trailheads for Dark Hollow Falls, South River Falls and Lewis Falls. The cool breezes meant a couple potential swimming holes went unused, but made for smiling faces even as the group climbed the 1300 feet of elevation back to the cars. 

Garretson billed the hike as “moderate,” a label that held true on a scale of strenuousness, but not so much on any enjoyability rating. For that, the day deserved an “exceptional.”

Rocky Mountain Run/Big Run Portal Shuttle - July 22, 2017

submitted by Gabriel Garretson

     On a very hot and humid summer day, 12 hikers from the Charlottesville PATC and the PATC meetup group went on an exceptional summer water hike in Southern Section of Shenandoah National Park. Hikers included Gabriel Garretson, Steve Braintwain, Susan Lopez, Sandy DiCarlo, Marley McGrath, Patrick Cory, Norman Beil, John Brandt, Bev & Pete Fink, Dane Alder and C Hardy.  About 5 miles of the hike was adjacent to beautiful mountain streams in the remote parts of the SNP wilderness area.  After we setup shuttle, we began the hike at the Brown Mtn Overlook at MP 76.9 and descended on the Brown Mtn trail. Next we connected with the Rocky Mtn Run trail and descended until we reached the Big Run Portal trail. After lunch and splashdown, we began a gradual climb up the Big Run Portal trail to the steeper Big Run Loop trail and climbed up to Big Run Overlook. Overall this hike included 7 plus stream crossings, which everyone was able to cross without getting wet. The hike leader overheated and was the last to arrive at Big Run Overlook but was very blessed with terrific support from other hikers that waited patiently and enjoyed extra time to visit. 


Cadillac Crew & Charlottesville PATC trail building at the Vining Cabin - August 26-27, 2017

     Eight members of the Charlottesville PATC united with the Cadillac Crew on August 26 and 27 to build trails at the Vining Cabin in Greene County.  Volunteers included Michael Seth, Dave Borszich, Mark Walkup, Bill Holman, Iva Gillet, Gabriel Garretson, Mark Perschel, and Marit Anderson from our club with Jacob C., Ellen L., Dan F., Kathy L., Tysha R., Martha B., Robert F., Kirsten E, Dennis L., and Vic F. from the Cadillac Crew (last names were not disclosed due to social media concerns by the project chair).  We worked from 10 am to 4 pm on Saturday and were able to build a quarter mile trail from the ground up including some stairs and rock crossings over portions of Mattie's Run.  It was great to collaborate with some very experienced trail builders!  Most of the Cadillac Crew drove down from Northern Virginia, as well as a couple from Williamsburg, VA.  After our work on Saturday night we convened at the Cadillac Crew host's house - Hope and Steve Barber only a few miles away on Rt. 33 for a pot luck dinner.  Amazing food and comradery among the two clubs.  Marit and Mark joined the Cadillac Crew spending the night at the Barber's property and helped with a morning of putting finishing touches on the trail on Sunday.  Joint future trail building projects at the Vining Cabin and nearby areas were discussed...we will keep everyone posted.

Hope and Steve Barber's home and site of the pot luck and housing of Cadillac Crew -Marit and Mark camped on the side lawn

The Barber's overflow cabin...cute little place 

Submitted by Marit Anderson


St Mary's Falls - August 12, 2017

submitted by Iva Gillet

     It was a warm day for a hike in the wilderness to St. Mary's Fall when eight hikers and Remi the best hiking dog headed off to enjoy the beauty and cold mountain water. Gabriel Garrettson, Bill Westin, John Brandt, Bill Holman, Marian Styles, Debra Fisher, and newcomer Brigitte Hogan followed the rugged but well worn trail, crossing the St Mary's River 5 times each way. All but 2 hikers soaked up the river coolness, with Remi enjoying whoever would throw a stick for her! It was not crowded when we arrived, so we soaked and enjoyed our lunches and treats at the base of the falls. We passed several groups as we retraced our steps back to the parking lot, as others also admired the clear mountain trout stream. Come join us for a waterfall hike soon!

South River Falls Loop - August 19, 2017

submitted by Dan Ralston

     This moderate hike won the hearts of all that joined.  The hikers led by Dan Ralston were: Jeanne Ralston, Lindsay Brown, Bev & Pete Fink, Marit Anderson, Mark Persche, Nancy Handley, Michael Seth, Gabriel Garrettson and two new folks that we hope will join us again: Suzi Blaze and Tora Powell. We even had a rattle snake sighting to add to the day’s hike.
     The waterfall, even though the water wasn’t high was still impressive. This is one of the nicest hikes that the Shenandoah National Park has to offer.  The day was perfectly beautiful, sunny and with a cool breeze.  We had lunch at the base of the falls and most of us soaked our feet in the serene water.  A wonderful hike that is always welcoming to all levels of hikers.


Ramsey’s Draft Wilderness - July 1, 2017

submitted by Barbara Martin

     Hike leader Barbara Martin was joined by ten fearless hikers to brave Ramsey's Draft Wilderness.  Andre Meyer, John Brandt, Nancy Handley, David Crowe, Claire Cline, Marian Styles, John Shannon, Dennis Templeton, Andrea Collins and Michael Seth started from Mountain House parking area to hike a loop up the Ramseys Draft Trail to Jerry's Run Trail, south on the Shenandoah Mountain Trail and back to our cars on the Road Hollow Trail.  At the first of five stream crossings we lost the trail, but with the help of John Shannon with his GPS we found the trail and successfully forded the next four stream crossings to find Jerry's Run Trail.  Vegetation including brambles and nettles were plenty, but so were wild flowers and a sense of adventure found only on an unblazed trail in a wilderness area.  With clippers in hand we found our way along the beautiful Jerry's Run trail to our lunch spot at the old Sexton Cabin.  The clearing was most welcome after the abundance of vegetation along the trail.  After lunch we once again lost the trail, only to find it again with the help of John Shannon's GPS and shortly after reached the beautiful Shenandoah Mountain Trail.  We followed this for a mile or so reaching the Road Hollow Trail and back to our cars.  We were blessed with a beautiful day, blue skies and escaped the forecast of afternoon thunderstorms.  Who could ask for more?

Browns Hollow-Emerald Pond-Bird Knob Loop, Massanutten - June 27, 2017

submitted by Michael Seth

     Lori and Darrell Doughty met hike leader Michael Seth at the former Massanutten Visitor’s Center on 211.  Barbara Martin arrive a bit late just after the three had left the parking lot so missed the hike. The weather was near perfect, sunny temperatures in the 70s with gentle breezes and very little humidity.  We hiked at a fairly brisk pace starting at 9:40 and finishing the 12 mile hike a little after 3:00.  We took a brief look at Emerald Pond which really was emerald-colored. We didn’t jump in as planned partly because the weather was not.  We skipped the sunny path with the giant anthills and hiked along the cliffs. Exceptionally clear air gave us great views to the West from Big Schloss to the north to Elliot Knob in the south, and distant peaks in West Virginia.


Rockfish Gap Trail Maintenance - June 24, 2017

reported by John Shannon, pictures by Jeanne Siler

A wet spring helped prolific growth along the chapter’s section of Appalachian Trail between Rockfish and McCormick Gaps, so it was great to have five
CJ Woodburn

John Shannon ready  to use a weedeater

David Crowe and Marian Styles
clipping small branches and
transporting fuel for weedeaters

Dave Borzich with weedeater
people join me to cut back summer growth. Most people went to the Crozet Tunnel walk in the morning, so we started later than normal. At the entrance station, the friendly rangers waved us in when we said we had come for trail maintenance. We collected two weedeaters from the toolbox, one for me and one for Dave Borzich. 

At our McCormick Gap starting point, we saw District Manager Don White, who was meeting a new overseer. The steep ascent to the AT required little clearing because Marian Styles had cleared much of the growth two weeks earlier with a swing blade while I pulled some garlic mustard.

While Dave and I fired up the string trimmers and set forth, Jeanne Siler, CJ Woodburn, David Crowe, and Marian followed with clippers. They cut shrubs too thick for a string trimmer as well as the many small branches growing into the trail corridor.

We stopped for a lunch at a rocky outcropping, where we had a partial view of Waynesboro. After our break and a bit more clearing, we walked back to our cars.

During our outing we met several backpackers, some of whom were heading to Mt. Katahadin. Most of them thanked us for keeping the AT in good shape for hiking.


Blue Ridge Tunnel Hike/Tour followed by Trail Maintenance at McCormick Gap - June 24, 2017

The Blue Ridge Tunnel

Bob Dombrowe (leading tour from Blue Ridge Tunnel Foundation), Suzanne Young, Dave Borszich, Nancy Handly, Lindsay Brown, CJ Woodburn,  David Crowe , Alan White, Marian Styles, John Shannon

Marit Anderson (PATC hike leader) in pink

June 24 - Ten hikers converged for the Blue Ridge Tunnel hike and tour starting at the trailhead on Afton Depot Lane on Afton Mountain.  Bob Dombrowe, from the Blue Ridge Tunnel Foundation, led an excellent 1.5 hour tour of the new trail and Blue Ridge Tunnel from the east side.  We hiked 2/3 of a mile along the railroad tracks and then 700 feet into the tunnel with the same distance back to the parking lot.  It was fascinating to hear the feats of Claude Crozet as chief engineer of the project and the many men who helped build the tunnel with limited tools and equipment in the mid 1800's.  It took eight years to build and was a functioning tunnel from 1858 to 1944. The Blue Ridge Tunnel Foundation and Nelson County government have been working to restore the area and have created a safe fence lining the gravel walkway to the tunnel. The project will continue with additional phases to add crushed rock to the path and hopefully someday have a trail through the tunnel that hikers, cyclists, and families can enjoy.  We wish them well on their project and were happy to add monetary contributions for the tour.  Alan White, who joined us from a hiking club in Waynesboro, hopes to plan a similar tour for his group in the near future.  If you did not get to be a part of this hike and would like an opportunity to take the tour - contact Marit Anderson and she will keep you posted.  Thanks Bob Dombrowe for a fascinating morning!
John Shannon led a group of volunteers to do trail maintenance on the Appalachian Trail at McCormick Gap after the tunnel expedition.  Much gratitude to Marian Styles, CJ Woodburne, David Crowe, and Dave Borszich to trim vegetation and maintain the trails on the AT.

 submitted by Marit Anderson