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


PATC Charlottesville Chapter picnic at Dunlodge - June 11, 2017

submitted by Jeanne Nicholson    

     About 40 PATC Charlottesville hikers and friends of hikers gathered at Dunlodge cabin Sunday afternoon for a potluck feast. Judging from the prodigious outlay, these are hikers who can both eat AND cook. 

     In addition to sharing salads, soup and scones, they swapped vacation plans and recent hiking adventures before settling out doors (of course) for updates on PATC administrative issues and concerns as outlined by Rush Williamson, vice president of operations. Also making the trip south to central Virginia was Emeline Otey, supervisor of marketing, who brought a wide selection of PATC publications for purchase, including the just published 2017 edition of Hikes in the Washington  Region. Former president and current PATC archivist Tom Johnson and Mel Merritt, current supervisor of cabins operations, were also in attendance from the DC area.  District Manager Don White thoughtfully acknowledged John Shannon's many years of being the president of the Charlottesville Chapter and keeping it together.

     The Charlottesville chapter of the PATC will celebrate the 90th anniversary of the founding of PATC at its September meeting. Expect cake on the dessert menu!


Heiskell Hollow-Beecher Ridge loop hike - May 27, 2017

submitted by Gabriel Garretson

     Four hikers, including hike leader, Gabriel Garretson went on a strenuous 10.5 mile circuit hike with 2300 feet of ascent and 11 streams crossings. We started on private property, in a cow pasture at the end of Rte 697, off Rte 340 just north of Rileyville. We decided, as a group, to do this hike, as an alternative to the Jeremeys Run retrace (with 36 stream crossings) that was scheduled, due to concerns about higher water levels.  Other hikers included Michael Seth, Steve Braintwain and Suzanna Williams.  

     We managed to make it through the cow pasture without meeting up with the Bull.  The water crossings required getting our feet wet but the 5 mile climb up Heiskell Hollow was moderate and not very strenuous. We also enjoyed seeing a concentration of Mt Laurel in full bloom on our return. Everyone agreed, it is much better to start a strenuous loop hike from lower elevation, if possible and finish most of the climb before having lunch. Thanks to the local property owner that makes this possible for hikers to enjoy. 


Sugar Hollow-North Fork Moormans River Trail to Black Rock Gap - June 17, 2017

Marit Anderson, Pete Fink, Susanna Williams, Nancy Handly, CJ Woodburn, Bev Fink, Clair Cline, Dave Borszich (back) Marion Styles, Dennis Templeton, Gabriel Garretson, David Crowe (photographer- Bill Holman)
     Isn't it nice to sometimes take a hike that is only 25 minutes from Charlottesville? Thirteen hikers arrived at  Sugar Hollow Reservoir and proceeded to hike the North Fork Moorman's River Trail on a slightly overcast, muggy Saturday morning.  The lush forest  provided lots of shade and recent rains made for decent water levels for the swimming holes and river and stream crossings.  Always fun for hikers!
     All of the group proceeded  along the Moormans's River on the yellow blazed trail to Big Branch spur trail, headed by hike leader, Marit Anderson.  We stopped for a nice refreshment break of chocolate chip cookies to enjoy the two waterfalls.  Marion Styles took a dip, but could not entice anyone else to jump in. After the snack, Bill Holman led a group of four back to the parking area, rounding out the short hike to 5 miles.  The others continued on towards the Skyline Drive and Black Rock Gap on the North Fork Moorman's River Trail with Nancy Handly at sweep. Unfortunately Susanna had a small slip on a wet rock, so an ice pack and ace bandage were applied.  Dennis and Dave escorted back to their vehicle.  Later a report from her home let us know that all was well.  The rest of the group continued on to the North Fork Moorman's River Road and stopped for lunch by the water.  Gabriel returned back to the starting trail head at this point.  Five hikers proceeded to the Shenandoah National Park and AT marker at Black Rock Gap to do a high five.  Then they retraced their steps back to our original point making it an 11.9 mile hike with 1,398 ft ascent.  We saw lots of cool things today, including abandoned bus shacks, lots of wildflowers, numerous baby snakes, and marvelous mushrooms.  The skies stayed clear and we never had the thunderstorms predicted.  Yea!

Love those river crossings

Wading through can be easier than slippery stones
Marion the Mermaid

Cookie time

Lunch Bunch

Black Rock Gap on the Skyline Drive

submitted by Marit Anderson


Roaring Run Trail in Massanutten - June 3, 2017

submitted by Mike Seth and Iva Gillet

     Saturday was National Trails Day which we honored by hiking up one trail and cleaning up trash on another.  Joining hike leader Michael Seth were: Ron Stoltzfus, David Crowe, C.J. Woodburn, Debra Fisher, Barbara Martin, Susanna Williams, John Brandt, Marian Styles, Iva Gillet and Remi the Best Hiking Dog.  Meeting at Swift Run Gap at 9:30 we drove to Catherine Furnace where David, C.J. and Barbara were patiently waiting for us.  We took turns missing the unmarked forest road that led to it. At Furnace Mountain the crew hiked the four-mile, purple-blazed Roaring Run Trail to the top of Big Mountain -which is not that big; only 1600 feet climb just enough to get some exercise.  It was a new hike for everyone except the hike leader.  At the top we had lunch with sunny weather and in the upper 70s; there was a nice breeze and no one seemed in a hurry to get up and resume hiking.
     When we finally did, we had a short descent to the Massanutten Trail.  Although officially a PATC maintained trail, the Massanutten Trail at this point simply utilizes the Big Mountain forest road for nearly three miles.  This is where we got out our trash bags and started cleaning up.  And there was a lot of trash to pick up, especially beer bottles with Bud Light being the beverage of choice.  Strangely a number of the bottles were filled and unopened.  One of our crew had to be dissuaded from taking them home-"the beer inside will be fine" he argued.  The prize find was a toy rifle that CJ found. She looked like the chain gang warden with her whistle and BB gun. We filled eight or nine bags leaving them along the side of the road as we went.  Later Barbara and Ron drove back and picked the bags up.
     At Pitt Springs where the Massanutten Trail leaves the road we stopped our clean up and headed down a scenic section of the road that follows a cascading stream.  Debra and Remi were the only ones to take advantage of the many clear pools to soak in. Including all the road walk, but not the back and forth picking up trash, we hiked a little over 9 miles and were at our cars by 4:00. The non-trash bag pick up car went to the Dairy Queen in Elkton where we enjoyed frozen treats. Happy Trails!