submitted by Iva Gillet
It was a BEAUTIFUL day to look for wildflowers- sunny, breezy and in the 70’s. Our group assembled at Love Gap and began with introductions with some first-time and not-seen-in a-while hikers including Dan Funkhouser, who has been MIA for a few years and his colleague Hong, who joined us from DC; hike leader Gabriel Garretson, who has been busy with consulting work; Steve James, who talked to me about AT thru-hiking; and Iranian brothers Farzad and Mehrdad Shafiei, who were taking a break from their UVA Transportation engineering graduate work. Additional hike leaders Barbara Martin, Bill Holman, and new leaders Jodi Fredericksen and Dave Abdullah made it possible to divide our group since in the wilderness. Dave and Jodi lead the first group along the fire road toward Maupin field, a wide path allowing for conversation and where we met the first of many groups of trail maintainers for the Tidewater Appalachian Trail Club. They had a large group for their Spring trail work and we ran across their volunteers working to clear these rough trails throughout the day. After checking out the map at Maupin field and making sure everyone continued through the campground to the Mau-Har trail, hikers Karen and John Ballen, Debra Fischer, Brian Muszynski, Marie Moss, Margarat Heiber, Lin Yang, and John Brandt descended toward Campbell Creek, with Andre Meyer as sweep. The trillium were past their usual peak for this time of year, but the wild geraniums, wild azalea, Jack-in-the-pulpit, Canada violets and Cardinal flower were all in their splendor. The water level was such that the crossings were easy, The TATC had just completed sawing on a huge root ball and relocating stepping stones prior to our arrival and we were grateful for their dedicated work in this section of trail, making our crossing much easier. Our lunch spot was a large, flat campsite along the Campbell Creek. Lots of food was shared- guava from Hong, banana bread and dark chocolate pretzels from the hike leader, nuts, and peanut butter pretzels. No one went hungry. Several of is took a short side trip to the falls, some travelling to the bottom before returning to the lunch spot. Once there, there were more new faces of TATC folks with a large cross-cut saw. They carried a felling saw, showed us their custom designed case for the saw and explained the different purposes of the various teeth- great information! The faster hikers headed out, we swept the area for trash, hauling a bit out, and retraced our steps with the majority of the climb right after lunch. We could admire the flowers while catching our breath. Other than the impressive trail workers from Tidewater, we saw a few others. Our group had a pleasant hike with new and veteran friends, admired the work of our fellow trail maintainers, and relished our time in Spring beauty.