Bear Church Rock Hike - April 7, 2018

From the Graves Mill Trail to intersection at the Staunton River Trail

Atop Bear Church Rock for lunch
 With a forecast of winter mix and cold temperatures, hike leader, Marit Anderson, decided not to cancel the hike set for Saturday, April 7, but instead have interested hikers reach her by phone, which allowed us to arrive at AHS ready to hike with the option to change the hike.  Five hikers decided collectively to forego the scheduled Corbin Mountain 11 mile hike for a shorter hike a little closer to home in case bad weather developed.  Iva Gillet and Remi the hiker dog, John Brandt, Mark Perschel, Nancy Handley, and Marit carpooled up to the Graves Mill parking area on VA662 to do the Bear Church Rock circuit in the Shenandoah National Park. We began on the Graves Mill trail along the Rapidan River and split off at the Staunton River Trail taking the steeper Jones Mountain Trail all the way up to Bear Church Rock through a canopy of Mountain Laurel.  We enjoyed the beautiful view and ate a quick lunch and dark chocolate, as the day was quite brisk.  Snow and hail spat at us as we descended and took the detour to see the Jones Mountain Cabin, a quaint cabin which might be fun to backpack to for an overnight someday.  We split off to take the less steep descent on the McDaniel Hollow Trail and rejoined the Staunton River and Graves Mill trails to return to our cars.  The mileage for the day was 8.5 miles with 2,210 ft of elevation gain.  We also did some trail maintenance - sawing and removing a tree on the trail. Everyone seemed happy to get a good hike in on a day we thought would be snowed out. Remi seemed the happiest of all!
Jones Mountain Cabin

Canopy of Mountain Laurel

Trail maintenance time

Hail on Remi

Bloodroot in bloom
**The Corbin Mountain Hike will be rescheduled for June.  Check the schedule because it is quite a nice hike on the Hughes River along the Nicholson Hollow Trail up to the Corbin Cabin and following the Corbin Mountain and Corbin Hollow Trails- starting at the Old Rag parking area.

submitted by Marit Anderson


Shenandoah Mountain Trail - March 17, 2018

submitted by Jeff Monroe

The Charlottesville Chapter conducted a joint hike with the Southern Shenandoah Valley Chapter on March 17th. Four Charlottesville hikers traveled over the mountain: hike leader Jeff Monroe, Marie Moss and first timer Karen Ballen met in Charlottesville, and picked up John Brandt in Afton. After meeting eight SSVC hikers in Churchville and discussing trail conditions, the groups decided to hike together without using shuttles, but to still hike on Shenandoah Mountain. The combined group first enjoyed a short hike north on the Shenandoah Mountain Trail from Scotchtown Draft Rd. to a great scenic viewpoint, and then deep snow turned the group around to hike south from Scotchtown Draft Rd. to the projected natural gas pipeline construction corridor. Although tree felling for the pipeline had not begun on the southern end of Shenandoah Mountain, the group did observe flags marking the route. The hike was not a long one, only five-and-a-half miles, but the forecasted rain amounted to only a twenty-minute drizzle and the views from the mountain were amazing! 


AT Trail Clearing - March 10, 2018

submitted by Jeanne Siler

Saturday, March 10, provided good news and good news for PATC trail volunteers working the Charlottesville chapter’s opening stretch of the Appalachian Trail from Rockfish Gap McCormick Gap in Shenandoah National Park.

And then there was the evening news.

NBC Channel 29 sent reporter Pete DeLuca to the meet-up point at King’s popcorn stand atop Afton Mountain on Saturday morning to hear about the planned clean-up efforts after the previous week’s windstorms. DeLuca managed to cart his video gear and a tripod up the first steep slope at McCormick Gap heading south despite being outfitted in a white shirt and tie. Check out his report online by clicking http://www.nbc29.com/ clip/14188975/volunteers-band- together-to-clear-shenandoah- national-park-from-noreaster- debris

Another piece of good news was that with a hefty turnout of almost twenty volunteers, including half a dozen newcomers, the workload was light. The chainsaw crew, working south, took care of several large trees on the trail, while two scouts headed north to Jarman Gap to survey other potential chainsaw needs. A group of nine headed north into the park armed with hand saws and loppers to make sure that portion of trail was clear for hikers like David Waiter. Waiter, a James Madison University student from northern Virginia, was using his spring break days to hike from Front Royal to the park’s southern terminus.
David Waiter
More positive news appeared in form of green leaves at lower elevations, bearing proof that spring isn’t just something on the calendar.

Not counting Channel 29’s news reporter Pete DeLuca, volunteer trail workers on Saturday included hike leaders Iva Gillet and Bill Holman, who doubled as a television star along with Jodi Frederickson. Dave Abdallah, Mikhail Arefev, rock star Rich Bard, Dave Borzszich, Dennis Burgett, chauffeur extraordinaire Pete Fink, Nancy Handley, Sharon Holman, Steve James, Michael Luu, John Shannon, Jeanne Siler, Geoff Manning-Smith, Linda Steigleder, Marian Styles, Clark Wiedman and Remy the Hiking Dog also took part in the clean-up.

Before heading off in all compass directions, a group of volunteers warmed up over cold ones at Seven Arrows Brewery in Waynesboro.

Little House, Big House Mountains - March 8, 2018

submitted by Barbara Martin

Six hikers, Karl Mohns, John Herrity, Joan Gilran Dennis Templeton, Andre Meyer and Michael Seth joined hike leader, Barbara Martin, for a  trek up House Mountain in Lexington.  We climbed steadily up a fire road to the saddle where signs are posted about the history of House Mountain and how this area was protected and the trails were built.  We decided to hike up Big House Mountain first, as it affords the best views.  The climb was steep, but the views were worth it.  As we looked off into the valley and enjoyed our lunch the sky darkened and snowflakes danced through the air.  After seeing Table Rock, we made our way back down and decided to leave Little House Mountain for another day as the air began to fill with snow.  We made our way back to the cars and enjoyed beverages at the local ale house in Lexington.


Boy Scouts Trail Clearing on the Vining Tract - February 24, 2018

submitted by Jeff Monroe

Boy Scout Troop 1437 had a great (if rainy) weekend at Conley Cabin on the PATC Vining tract. We arrived on Friday evening and hiked in the dark to arrive at the cabin around 7:30 p.m. We got a fire going, and the cabin warmed up in no time since it wasn't very cold outside.  On Saturday, we went back to finish cutting a log from across the Orion trail. We got all the way through one side, but had to stop about 1/2 way through the other side because heavy rain came in. We did make it up to the Churchill Bathtub to get some water, but did not get to hike as much as I wanted because of the rain. We spent most of Saturday afternoon in, and around, the cabin because of the rain. 

Preddy Creek - February 24, 2018

submitted by Dan Ralston

We had 11 hikers join hike leader Dan Ralston on his Preddy Creek hike.  It was a very moderate and overcast winter morning but a pleasant day for a hike.  Joining the hike were Jeanne Ralston, Geoffrey Manning-Smith, Cheri Acker (a new PATC hiker), Suzanna Williams, Jeanne Siler, Lucy Hartley, Nancy Handley, Michael Seth, Charles Staples and Kelly O’Rourke. Everyone enjoyed the first loop of Preddy Creek however the new Orange County portion of the park remains closed awaiting the special use permit. Therefore, we did not want to be a renegade PATC hiking group and trespass past the yellow tape so we just enjoyed the beautiful new bridge instead.  I will repeat the hike once the Orange County section opens.  We had lunch in the picnic area after the first loop and then several of us did a different second loop around the park for a little added mileage. Special thanks to Nancy Handley for meeting part of the folks at AHS and also special thanks to Jeanne Siler and Geoffrey Manning-Smith for contributing the pictures.


The Hike in Dyke - February 17, 2018

submitted by Jeanne Siler

The more than 15 miles of trails at the Blue Ridge School in Dyke, Virginia, offered lots of choices for the near-dozen hikers (and two dogs) who braved the forecast and turned out Saturday morning, for Iva’s Annual Soup Hike. 

It helps that the Blue Ridge School for Boys is only about a 10 minute-drive from Iva’s home—and thus just before the winter precip turned into serious rain—made for a quick return to her bright kitchen full of a trifecta of warm soups and a living room with a fire in the woodstove and afternoon Olympics coverage on the large screen.

But back to the trails in Dyke. 

Designed with the school’s active student mountain bikers in mind, the trails, improved in both 2012 and 2017, keep steep slopes to a minimum, with lots of switchbacks. And lots of choices, with lots of signage. Good thing, too, about the latter, because even several experienced hikers declared the wooded areas that hug the upper hills beyond the campus to be maze-like as the trails wound up and around Bryson Hollow, Crawford Hollow, and along the Chesley Creek trail.

Our leader took us on a circuit loop from a parking lot near the school’s climbing wall, past spurs to Bear Hole and Senior Rock, over some nicely constructed slat bridges, and back along the Twin Lakes trail. Fitbits and GPS-equipped phones recorded something more than five miles. (Bushwhacking and shortcuts account for variances.)

We stopped for ginger snap snacks at one of the high spots overlooking the campus, as well as pausing to make a donation to a wishing well. (We didn’t bother with coins and put in a Bill!)

Moose the Dog (on his first-ever Iva Hike) along with Dustin (on the other end of the leash, also on his first-ever Iva Hike) saw his first-ever bicycle on the trail, though other wildlife in February tended to be limited to woodpeckers. By the time several bikers had barreled past, Moose had figured out that bikes were acceptable and stopped barking.

Suffice it to say, just being over the border of Albemarle County in Greene County—whether you hike or bike—Dyke makes a good destination for a quick morning or a long afternoon.  A route for a hike that would traverse Brokenback Mountain and back to Iva’s via the Moonshine Trail is already being cooked up for next year.  

Hats off (or on, considering the weather in February) to Dave Borzick, Dustin Degnan, Bev and Pete Fink, Iva Gillet, Nancy Handley, Bill Holman, Geoff Manning-Smith, Trevor Hepler, Michael Seth, Jeanne Siler, Remy The Hiking Dog, and her close friend and most well-behaved companion, Moose.