Big Brothers/Big Sisters of the Central Blue Ridge Hike and Event Day in Shenandoah National Park - Saturday, September 16, 2023

Charlottesville PATC partnered with Shenandoah National Park, SNP Trust, and Public Lands Store to offer the Big Brothers/Big Sisters of the Central Blue Ridge a SNP day of educational activities with a park Ranger, hike to Black Rock Summit, lunch, gas money, and free park access on Saturday, September 16. In the morning Ranger Erica Kennedy talked about the history of the park with a map exercise and led some fun games including Waterball Shenanigans. We ate lunch and chocolate chip cookies, then took a caravan of cars to the trailhead of Black Rock Summit for our hike to the top.  Ranger Erica had us do a habitat search on the way.   A number of the group climbed up the rock scramble to the top and also had a food break. The day ended with a Junior Ranger ceremony and badge pinning & swag for all. Everyone had a blast!  Thanks to Adam, Damoni, Jon, Caelan, Molly (BBBS Director of Programs), Mark and Marit (PATC leaders), and Ranger Erica for participating. We plan to offer a spring event on the Blue Ridge Parkway with another event in Shenandoah National Park next September. Our goal is to give more opportunities for those that may not have access to the national park and local national forest service lands. We hope the events will continue to grow and more Bigs and Littles will join us. Many thanks to our partner- Shenandoah National Park and sponsors - Shenandoah National Park Trust and Public Lands Stoređź’™

submitted by Marit Anderson


Repainting the Blazes on the Appalachian Trail from Turk Gap - 8/13/23

 A favorite trail maintenance activity is repainting the blazes on the Appalachian Trail.  Sunday, August 13 Charlottesville PATC had a crew of eight scheduled to do just that on the section from Turk Gap to Crimora Lake Overlook in Shenandoah National Park.  We met at 8 am at the Turk Gap parking lot. Since we had one no-show we divided the group into three teams.  Two pairs of two people came from the north end and one team of three came from the south trail head. The groups continued from one end to the other painting the blazes. One person would hold the template and the other would hold the can of paint and paintbrush brushing inside the template.  Everyone switched off, so all got turns painting.  After two hours we had completed the two mile section. It was a neat and tidy team, no paint spilled!

Upon completion of the repainting we met back up at the parking lot and got our hiking gear.  The crew enjoyed a trek up to Turk Summit to enjoy the views, share chocolate chip cookies, and take a breather. A few blowdowns on the trail were cut down by our team as we hiked. Always happy to do our part!  We said our good-byes around noon. Altogether we walked 4.5 miles.  The event was organized by Mark Perschel and Marit Anderson, and many thanks to our volunteers: Claire Cline, Doug Stiles, Joe Simard, Seth Richardson, and Barbara Martin.

submitted by Marit Anderson


Appalachian Trail Maintenance from Rip Rap Trail Parking Lot - Shenandoah National Park - July 2, 2023

All I was doing was holding the end of a tree branch that another trail maintainer was sawing off low to the ground when it happened.

I was stung. By something. Probably a bee. No swelling. Just a small welt. I was lucky. I had ice cubes with me in a thermos. But it happened so quickly. And like most injuries on the trail, it happened without warning.

It could have been a rock. Or a falling branch.

Or the copperhead our group of clippers disturbed.

Really. We took no pictures. Just had a discussion about the snake’s size and coloring. We backed away from the spot on the trail where it slithered away from us, without anyone looking for its eyes or tail to identify it further.  We left the master-naturalist-in-training among us saying she needed to forget learning about ALL the snakes and just concentrate on the three venomous ones found in Virginia: cottonmouths or water moccasins, rattlesnakes and yes, copperheads. We think we saw a young one. Not so young that Mama was nearby, but still small.  

But enough about snakes. Let’s talk about trail maintenance safety in general. 

The Charlottesville-area volunteers numbered nine on July 2. PATC trail maintenance event leaders Marit Anderson and Mark Perschel brought more than enough adjustable hard hats and safety goggles for all. We knew to wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts. And to have an emergency contact. Just in case.  We signed a national park libility form. Just in case.  Our sign-up on MeetUp encouraged us to bring work gloves. We were doing vegetation cutback so some of us brought garden gloves. Some brought leather ones that covered both hands and wrists.  And others used some of the provided ones.

Anderson and Perschel brought tools, too. Tools should be carried sharp edges down when walking or hiking.  Just in case. Anderson had a medical kit as well. It contained iodine, bandages, aspirin and more. Just in case.

Rocks are tripping hazards. All the time. Covered-toe shoes are important. In other words, no flip-flops or sandals.  On hot days, lightweight pants and shirts are called for to keep ticks away. (July 1 was in the 90s down below, near Charlottesville. We enjoyed temperatures some 10 degrees cooler, a breeze and shade.)  Very little works against gnats, but bug spray in general is a good idea.

Public Lands store Community and Education Lead, Mike Meintzschel (and one of our volunteer water bar men), brought drinks and snacks. We all brought water. Hydration is important in July and year-round. Trail maintenance is hard work, but so are workouts at the gym. And volunteering on the trails can be fun, educational and rewarding. It goes faster the more folks who are working. We had three men and six women, so all genders may sign up for the laughs and the training.

We like to be safe out there.

Today we cut back vegetation, made water bars and drainage areas, and hiked 3.5+miles out and back. We will return to this section of the Appalachian Trail to continue this work next month. Join us!

Thanks to all the volunteers today including the two trail maintainers of this Appalachian Trail section, Linda Beights and Lisa Swales, and Mike Meintzschel, Cheri Acker, Tony Alimenti, Anna Castle, Jeanne Siler, Mark Perschel, and Marit Anderson.

written by Jeanne Siler, photos by Marit Anderson and Jeanne Siler


Nicholson Hollow/Corbin Mt./Indian Run/Crusher Ridge hikes with Corbin Cabin Overnights -June 14-16, 2023

Trail report by hike leader Tony Alimenti as follows:

 "It ended up that I was the only hiker.  I had 2 wonderful nights at the Corbin Cabin.  I hiked in to the cabin on the 14th and settled in,  had some dinner and prepared for the next day’s hike.  On Thursday the 15th, I hiked clockwise from the cabin taking the Nicholson Hollow path to the road, came back up and took the Corbin Mountain trail to the Indian Run trail ending at the Cabin for a 11.26 mile 2,302 foot elevation gain gorgeous experience.  The Hughes river was flowing nicely, easy rock crossings and inviting pools.  Weather was great, a definite repeat.


I combined this hike with the Crusher ridge hike with an option cabin stay at Corbin Cabin.  I got no takers on the Nicholson Hollow hike nor Cabin stay.  On Friday morning I hiked from Corbin Cabin to the SNP skyline drive corbin cabin cut off parking.  There I met 4 folks (Mike, Lyle, Kathy and Mindy) for the Crusher Ridge hike.  12 of the original 16 intended hikers dropped due to the impending thunder storms and rain.  The 5 of us who showed up, decided that the weather wouldn’t be an issue.  We had a great hike South on the AT, down Crusher ridge to the Lambert and Tulip Cabins.  Both very attractive cabin options.  While we had some rain on the way down, it wasn’t bad and the ascent back up was sunny and beautiful with the post rain cool making the elevation gain much more enjoyable.  Good day by and for all.  It turned out for me to be an epic and enjoyable few beautiful days in the SNP."

Photos and text by Tony Alimenti 


Show Your Love for Shenandoah - Service Day, April 22, 2023

The second annual Show Your Love for Shenandoah Day was on Saturday, April 22 and Charlottesville PATC had a strong presence for this service day.  Marit Anderson and Mark Perschel headed up the group of eleven volunteers including Margaret Helber, Vicky Lee, Rebecca Smith, Susanna Williams, Mike Hammer, Barbara Martin, Peggy Byrd, and two others from Shenandoah National Park Trust (Tracey Hill and Tori Lev). We met up at Skyland Visitor Conference Center at 9 am for light breakfast snacks and coffee followed by speeches from the Shenandoah National Park Trust, Shenandoah National Park Superintendent-Pat Kenney, and from SNP/Appalachian Conservation Corps volunteer coordinator-Leah Cawthorn. Tools, PPE, lunches, and other gear were collected and the teams of over 125 volunteers dispersed to their work sites. Charlottesville PATC carpooled north to Jewell Hollow Overlook and we proceeded to the Appalachian Trail to begin our project of re-establishing waterbars.  Mark gave a demonstration on how to do the maintenance and we got into groups of 2-3 people. We began the work using pick mattocks, McLeods, shovels and buckets.  The skies were beginning to look dark as the forecast had predicted, but we were able to complete eight waterbars before the rain began around noon.  Fortunately we made it back to our cars before the downpour. Marit and Mark gathered tools and equipment, and we all said our good-byes.  Despite not finishing the entire project, we were happy with what was accomplished and that we could do our small part on Earth Day 2023! We hope to finish the rest of the waterbars in the near future.

photos and submission by Marit Anderson