Elliott Knob Joint Hike with GoHiking! Charlottesville Meetup Group - February 2, 2019

submitted by Jeff Monroe

The Charlottesville PATC conducted its first-ever joint hike with the “GoHiking! Charlottesville” meetup group on February 2, 2019 that culminated in a trip up the metal stairs of the fire tower at the summit of Elliott Knob.  PATC hikers included Dan and Jeannie Ralston, Marie Moss, John Brandt, Nancy Kern, Claire Cline, Jocelyn Prostko, Pam Tauer, and newcomer Emily Hjulstrom. A number of additional hikers came via Meetup, which was led by Patrick Corey. This was originally a work hike, but our inability to obtain tools from the Shenandoah National Park tool shed meant this turned into just a regular hike.  Good thing! The trail was in great shape. The group hiked south to Elliott Knob, over sometimes shady and snow covered trails and sometimes sunny and warm trails. The hike totaled 9.4 miles, and the group lunched at the summit. After the hike, some of the group dined at a restaurant in Staunton.


Austin Mt. Loop - February 9, 2019

On February 9 the Lewis Peak Trail hike that was planned for a second time had to be changed again due to closure of Shenandoah National Park.  Hike leader, Marit Anderson, tried to approach it earlier in the week coming up from the west side off of Madison Run Fire Road and taking the Austin Mt. Trail to Rockytop Trail to Lewis Peak Trail only to find it littered with trees.  Work crews had not been able to get to that section yet after the big ice storm in November and the park closure from the government shutdown.  So Austin Mt. Loop was the designated hike of the day.  Many of the folks signed up for the hike cancelled (most likely because it is a harder hike).  Temperatures were very cold in the morning....more no shows....so the final group of folks was an intimate five - along with Marit were Susanna Williams, Nancy Handley, Marie Moss, and John Brandt. We met at Rockfish Gap, all piled into Marit's car, and went to the trail head.  Five solid hikers - we had a good pace up the 1,515 ft ascent, over the rocky portion of  the trail, while enjoying the many views of  Furnace Mt., Cedar Mt., Trayfoot Mt. and the Shenandoah Valley.  We found a beautiful sunny spot lined with pine needles to look at the vista and eat our lunch and homemade chocolate chip cookies right before passing Rockytop Trail and then taking the Madison Run Spur Trail to the fire road.  Everyone agreed that the hike had it all- good distance of 9 miles, a climbing section, rocks, views, water features along Madison Run, and gentle descent down the tree lined fire road back to the car.  The day had warmed up and after drop off at the Popcorn Stand most of us made it home by 3 PM. Marit will try to lead the Lewis Peak Trail ridge hike another time. We thank all the trail crews that have been out clearing Austin Mt. Trail allowing us to enjoy the mountains for the day.

 submitted by Marit Anderson and Marie Moss (photos).