Rip Rap Swimming Hole and Chimney Rock - August 3, 2019

submitted by Iva Gillet

Hoping for a typical warm summer day, eighteen hikers were not disappointed with this hike to a clear, COLD mountain swimming hole. For this adventure we congregated at the Dollar General in Crimora before heading through a stream bed to the remote Rip Rap trailhead on the west side of the Shenandoah National Park. As this was an out and back hike, Bill Holman accompanied Jeanne Siler and Sunny Choi at a slower pace to the swimming hole to wait for the longer group hikers’ return from a few additional miles. Iva Gillet and Remi shepherded the remaining group from the back, with David Crowe, Claire Cline and Jocelyn Prostko leading the march to Chimney Rock. We were happy to have new hikers Jonas Hochstetler, Tom Mayer, and Larry Cutler join us for this, as well as Nancy Handley, Margaret Helber, Michael Seth, and our Charlottesville carpool group of John Shannon, Marian Styles, Debra Fisher, Dennis Templeton and Norman Beil. 

About half the group had never been on this trail, and most had not hiked it from the bottom. It was warm, but not overwhelming and when we reached the clear, open views from Chimney Rock, we enjoyed some sustenance after our climb. After food and photos, we descended back to the swimming hole and found not only the rest of our group, but a few others who were cooling off. Remi was the first one in and swam for sticks most of the time as we ate and swam. Norman tried out the rope swing while about ½ of us were able to submerge in the chilly waters. It continues to amaze me how clear and aquamarine the water is at this spot. After some key lime and chocolate chip cookies, we packed up our gear and returned to the cars. Most of us then continued to Stable Craft Brewing for refreshments and snacks while the chickens wandered around the brewery and groups played sand volleyball. The brewery is uniquely located in the middle of farm land near Verona, with lots of outdoor games, and a focus on sustainability. Great fun to have so many join for this sunny day adventure!


Lewis Peak Hike - August 10, 2019

Lewis Peak is touted as "a majestic summit in Shenandoah's southern district with spectacular views. The route is moderate and traverses rolling terrain. There are not lengthy ascents or descents, so its' a good choice for anyone looking for a longer hike devoid of tough climbs." Marit Anderson, hike leader for the day, chose this hike because August can be very hot...so a moderate hike could be enjoyed by all.  Nonetheless, we were blessed by an incredibly beautiful day with temperatures so cool at our meetup site at Afton mountain, that most of us were donning sweatshirts and jackets. The day warmed up to a perfect mid-seventy degrees in the mountains and a slight breeze.
The group of happy hikers included Anne Colgate, Claire Cline, Larry Cutler, Janet Smalley, Susanna Williams, Anna Castle, Ann Hays, Jocelyn Prostko, Joe Simaid, Mike Hammer, and Nancy Handley, who assisted as sweep for the day. The route began at Brown's Gap in SNP and proceeded along the Appalachian Trail to Big Run Loop, Rockytop Trail, Lewis Peak Trail, and finally up to Lewis Peak summit.  On the summit we had lunch and homemade chocolate chip cookies enjoying the view of Massanutten, Rocky Mountain, and the Shenandoah Valley. Ann Hays pointed out the interesting worm hole fossils in the rocks. We returned along the same route with Claire Cline, Anne Colgate, and Anna Castle being our naturalists for the day, pointing out wild flowers including Whorl Asters, Heal-all, Goldenrod, and Mullein. Wildlife excitement for the day was a large bear crossing the Skyline Drive on our ride north and a lost dog zipping past our group, most likely looking for his master. Our hike clocked in at 9.2 miles, 1,114 ascent, and a total of 4 hours and 40 minutes.  As we departed, a group was planning contra dancing for later and four of us met up at ProReNata Brewery for suds and corn hole games.  Great day in the mountains for sure!

submitted by Marit Anderson


Joint Hike With NBATC - Turk Mtn Loop, July 21, 2019

In the middle of a brutal heatwave, the Charlottesville Chapter met up with members of Lynchburg's Natural Bridge Appalachian Trail Club to complete a 10 mile loop hike in Shenandoah National Park on Sunday, July 21, 2019.

Charlottesville hikers included PATC members Nancy Handley, Karen and John Ballen, Claire Cline, and Michael Seth, along with hikers Patrick Cory, Lin Yang, and David Consolvo.  A group of 6 hikers came up from the Lynchburg area to also hike with us.  

Lunch on the Turk Mountain Summit with Claire, Karen Lin, and others.
Although the temperature in Charlottesville hit 100 degrees, lower temps and an occasional breeze made the hike along the Blue Ridge crest a surprisingly pleasant one for the most part.  The group hiked from Jarman Gap northbound on the A.T. to Turk Mountain, where they ate lunch and dried out from a sweaty climb.  The Turk Mountain trail was a little more exciting because of reports from other hikers of a large wasp nest near the trail.  Several folks had been stung, but none of our hikers experienced problems.

Observing trail work the PATC completed back in the winter
After lunch, the group continued north on the A.T. past Turk Gap to look at a large tree that the PATC had cut up this past winter, after it blocked the trail.  The group then turned around and descended on the Turk Run Trail to the Moorman's River Road, which they then climbed back to their cars for a 10.6 mile loop.  

Much of our group.  Photo by Claire Cline.

Charlottesville Chapter Summer Pot Luck

Reported by Jeannie Siler.

You may have figured out that Three Chopt, and Three Notched Road and U.S. 250 are all one and the same – the original road from the Virginia coast through Richmond and Charlottesville to the mountains – marked with three basic slashes on the trees for colonials to follow, but did you know anything about the white slashes on the Appalachian Trail?
Salad at the Potluck
The estimated 60+ guests at the annual summer meeting of the Charlottesville Chapter of the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club found out some of that history when PATC past president and club historian Tom Johnson took the microphone.

June 30, 2019, was a warm night at the PATC Dunlodge Cabin in Charlottesville, but though the potluck table was spread inside, the main event with Johnson as guest speaker, took place out of doors—naturally.

The white blazes along the AT were only part of the history Johnson keeps at the ready for presentations, and his audience was treated to a song, a quiz about the earliest trail founders, and a bit of the history of the various early hikers in the Appalachians.

“In early 1930s the early chapters all used different colors, and it was Myron Avery who convinced all of them to begin using white,” said Johnson, later explaining that Avery liked the white blazes that he saw the Green Mountain hikers using in Vermont.
Tom Johnson and Iva Gillet
Johnson told the group that Egbert Walker, the club’s first mapmaker, is believed to be the first to buy a 1 1/2-inch Red Devil scraper from a hardware store, used to scrape the outer layer of bark off trees chosen for blazing. Color was not the only thing Walker wanted in blaze consistency; he also encouraged early trail makers like Frank Schairer to stop hacking deep into the trees’ cambian layer. An ecologist for the Smithsonian, Walker’s concern was that the divot made by axes was damaging the trees. “Avery’s standard 2 x 6-inch wide scrape was all that was necessary to make a blaze, and being shallower, wouldn’t hinder the tree’s future growth,” explained Johnson. “Walker addressed the ATC Conference at Skyland in 1935 recommending the scraper as opposed to the axe chop,” Johnson concluded.

After Johnson, Charlottesville Chapter President Jeff Monroe had the floor and reported that the active Charlottesville group stepped out for 30 separate hikes, with 100 different hikers, covering more than 2,000 total hiker miles. The chapter joined forces with other groups, too, sometimes, including the Southern Shenandoah Valley Chapter (SSVC); the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club, the Natural Bridge Appalachian Trail Club, and a work hike with some Get Hiking! Charlottesville members.
Captivated by Tom Johnson's talk.
Before relinquishing the mic, Monroe also congratulated the chapter’s top hikers – Nancy Handley, leading the way with 15 hikes and 116 miles to her credit so far in 2019, and Marian Styles, not far behind, participating in 14 hikes for 97 miles.  John Brandt was third with 11 hikes and 82 miles logged. Several chapter members spoke to the crowd about the importance of maintaining the trails, pointing to Tom Johnson’s T-shirt for the occasion, emblazoned with the slogan that “Trails don’t blaze themselves.”

The Charlottesville chapter members will meet next at Dunlodge in December for a winter holiday potluck and more off-trail frivolity.


White Rock Falls- Torry Ridge- Sherando Lake- White Rock Gap Hike

While it was hot in the valley, it was actually quite pleasant in the Blue Ridge Mountains with sunny skies and a strong breeze.  Marit Anderson led the hike with Mark Perschel at sweep.  Eight hikers signed up, but we had a few cancellations, so the group of six also included Nancy Handley, Tony Alimenti, Suzie Cobleigh, and Lin Yang. We parked at White Rocks Gap and began with the White Rock Falls Trail and taking the side trail to see the falls....quite nice! We continued across the Blue Ridge Parkway to Slacks Trail with a stop at the picnic table to enjoy chocolate chip cookies and to water up.  Then down Torry Ridge Trail to Sherando Lake with viewing along the Lake Trail admiring the kayakers.  We had a long, delicious lunch at the beach with the entire group taking a swim.  After we were cooled off and were refreshed we tackled the uphill climb back up to the Parkway via the White Rocks Gap Trail, which meanders along the North Fork Back Creek.  During the day we saw salamanders, a few wildflowers (tickseed and sneezeweed mostly), geese on the lake, deer, and chipmunks. The group was quite fit, ending the day with 1700 ft elevation, 10.6 miles of hiking, and arriving at the parking lot at 3 pm enabling quite a few of the participants to get to the PATC Picnic beginning at 5 pm. I hope  everyone had as much fun as the hike leader!

 submitted by Marit Anderson


Hone Quarry Water Fall - June 9, 2019

submitted by Iva Gillet

It was a good plan- a hike of 5 miles to a waterfall with another optional 2.5 miles to a rock climbing area with great views of Hone Quarry finishing by a peaceful waterfall. It was a good enough plan to get 13 hikers and a dog out on a gray Sunday. We assembled the entire group off I-81 at Mt Crawford, with longest traveler, Art Bykonen, coming from Richmond and the closest hiker was first timer Joanna Myers coming from Harrisonburg. Donna Bossardt, Mike Hammer, Lin Yang, Rich Bard, and hike leaders Iva Gillet and Bill Holman met the group at Swift Run Gap, while Marian Styles, John Shannon, Gopal Midha, John Brandt, and Nancy Handley travelled from Charlottesville. 

We drove to the Hone Quarry Recreation area in the George Washington National Forest and parked at the dam. There were no other cars there likely due to the gray day. As we walked along the very rugged road, we did see several folks fishing. Conversations were plentiful as we walked the 1 ½ miles to the trail head, near some wooded primitive campsites. The trail to the 25 ft Hone Quarry waterfall was an easy trip. We had a leisurely lunch here, admiring the mossy greenery and gentle mountain stream. After our lunch break, it began to sprinkle and our return trip to the cars was wet- umbrellas and rain gear appeared. Upon arrival at the cars, and discussion about the 2 ½ mile additional option, there were only 3 who wanted to continue. Therefore, we were off to the ice cream stop at Smiley’s Dairy in Mt Crawford. While this day we did not need ice cream to cool off, it was a tasty treat for our walk in the drizzle and Marian was so kind as to buy Remi a doggie sundae for accompanying us!