Pete's Cave - October 19, 2019

14 hikers -  Andre Meyer, Sue G, Claire Cline, Nancy Kern, Larry Cutler, Christa Neher, Margaret Helber, Joan Gilrain, Michael Seth, John Brandt, Peggy Byrd, Dennis Templeton and Jeanne B  - joined hike leader Barbara Martin for the annual Pete's Cave/North Mountain hike followed by a potluck party at the home of Andre Meyer. 

The day couldn't have been more perfect for a hike.  The sky was clear, the leaves were turning, the air was fresh with just the right amount of chill.  The hike started with two great views into Rockbridge County.  After a pleasant mostly flat hike we climbed some rock stairs to the spectacular Pete's Cave, which isn't really a cave.  You had to be there to understand that!  Around the corner we all paused for another great view from the opposite side of the ridge.  It was tough to leave, but we made our way back to fun and refreshments at Andre's house.  A good time was had by all.

submitted by Barbara Martin

Douthat Campout/GET Trail Work - October 4-6, 2019

A great group of campers/trail workers descended on beautiful Douthat State Park the first weekend in October to enjoy festivities and improve a remote section of the Great Eastern Trail (GET).  The group included David Crowe, Mike Hammer, Barbara Martin, Donna Bossardt, Bill Holman, Jayne Mayne, Paul Henderson, Cat McCue, Gaby Navoa, Johanna Song, CJ Woodburn, and event organizers Iva Gillet and Jeff Monroe.

The group camped in adjoining sites on the edge of Douthat Lake.  Our neighbors may not have liked us, but we had a blast!

Early morning view of campsites
People started arriving on Friday - except for Mike, who had come on Thursday.  Friday's excitement was another camper who was suffering from vertigo, and we had to summon a ranger who called an ambulance.  We never saw that camper again, though his stuff was at the campground for the rest of our stay.

On Saturday, we drove over to Warm Springs Mountain, met up with Cat and her dog - a Saturday arrival.  We then consolidated vehicles and made the long and bumpy drive on a Forest Service road to our trailhead.  It was worth the effort, however, because our trail was overgrown almost to our vehicles.  

A "before" photo of the trail.
The group separated into two, equally important subgroups: (1) the workers cutting back the incredible amounts of overgrowth, and (2) the workers attacking larger downed trees.  Below are a series of photos showing the progression of the sawyer group on one incredibly nasty blowdown.  This was entirely done with hand saws - no power equipment used!  

The brush group cut back on the overgrowth - this trail had likely not been touched in over 20 years - and uncovered a trail under all the growth!  Of particular importance was the intersection of the South Piney Mountain Trail and the old Walnut Hollow Trail.  The GET makes a hard left off of the ridge here, but the South Piney Mtn Trail keeps going straight.  We cut back extensively at this intersection to make sure that hikers know which way the GET goes, while leaving the non-GET trail alone.

Cat shows where the GET turns to the left.  Behind Cat is the non-GET
portion of the South Piney Mtn Trail

View from the trail east towards Jump Rock, which can be seen in the background.

Trail Workers and Bill's feet

We hope to return this Spring to hike this section of the trail.  Finally, after two separate trips here, this trail section is now hikeable.
submitted by Jeff Monroe

SNP AT Hike #3 - October 13, 2019

Seven veteran PATC hikers engaged in the third of a series of AT hikes through Shenandoah National Park on Sunday, October 13, 2019.  The group included Karen and John Ballen, Jocelyn Prostko, Lin Yang, Nancy Handley, hike-leader-in-training Margaret Helber, and hike leader Jeff Monroe.  The group hiked from Turk Gap parking north on the Appalachian Trail to the Blackrock parking lot just north of the Blackrock vista. 

Margaret took this photo, so she is missing from the group of smiling faces!

Autumn splendor!

View from Blackrock vista.

submitted by Jeff Monroe


Women's Trail Work Day in conjunction with ATC/Wild East Women Initiative- Entry Run Tract - October 19, 2019

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy-Wild East Women all women's trail work trip was held on October 19 and Charlottesville PATC members were invited to participate.  Wild East Women is an initiative to get women out on the trails and to promote stewardship of the trails. Marit Anderson organized the event in cooperation with Mark Walkup, district manager for PATC Entry Run Tract near Stanardsville, VA at the southern border of Shenandoah National Park.  Martha Becton, Crew Lead with Potomac Crew (PATC) and Cadillac Crew member, along with Francy Rubin, trail crew member with Natural Bridge ATC, teamed up with Marit to supervise the relocation of a section of trail along John's Rest Trail that often floods during high rains. The participants also included Priscilla Roberts from Sante Fe, NM, Sandra Crawford from Barboursville, three writers for Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine - Shannon McGowan, Ellen Kanzinger, and Melissa Gessler from Charlottesville, Emily Godicke -exchange student from Germany at Charlottesville High School, Hannah Gessler from Mary Baldwin University, Marcela Liddick -trail runner from Charlottesville, and Kate Schlitz from PATC Meet Up. It was wonderful to have all twelve of these women from a variety of areas working together on building trail and learning about trail stewardship.

The day began at 9 am with all arriving at Rosser Lamb Cabin at Entry Run Tract and being introduced to the district manager, Mark Walkup.  He gave an overview of the area and then handed the day off to the ladies.  Tools and personal safety equipment were distributed to all and the group hiked down to the work site near Entry Run.  We divided into three groups with Martha, Francy, and Marit each leading a team.  Earlier in the fall Martha and Mark had discussed the location for the new trail and Martha made the final decision and flagged the route for the relocation...moving the desired trail up the hillside and away from the stream and seeps. The new trail was made from the ground up - clearing debris, rock, roots, and vegetation.  Next there was grading and rock relocation. Leaves were dispersed along the edges to create a natural looking border. Lastly, the old trail was blocked by branches and altered with leaves and sticks to camouflage it in a natural way. Everyone was happy with the results and that the project was completed by end of the afternoon.
The women had enjoyed a break and their lunches and chocolate chip cookies midway through the day.  Work ended at 3 pm and then tools were cleaned and returned to the work truck.  This was followed by a chainsawing demonstration with Martha handling the saw and Marit swamping. Things wrapped up at 4 pm with some of the participants departing for home and 7 women staying to enjoy a delicious picnic potluck dinner together.  We were lucky to have a beautiful autumn day to work and great conditions overall.  Rosser Lamb Cabin had been reserved for the weekend for lodging and Marit, Martha, Francy, and Priscilla had enjoyed both Friday and Saturday nights in the solitude and pretty scenery of this serene place.  Thanks to all the hard working participants.  We look forward to more trail work projects together ahead!

submitted by Marit Anderson