Women's Trail Work Day - Ivy Creek Overlook/Loft Mt- Shenandoah National Park-September 14, 2021

 Marit Anderson led a Women's Trail Work Day in conjunction with Wild East Women (Appalachian Trail Conservancy women's affinity group) and PATC on Tuesday, September 14 in Shenandoah National Park. The event was organized to help trail maintainer Lisa Swales on her AT section between Ivy Creek Overlook and Loft Mt Wayside with the help of an all-women's Appalachian Conservation Corps.  ACC Volunteer and Youth Leader, Leah Cawthorn, had contacted Marit since she knew the crew would be volunteering in SNP for the week.  All the plans worked together nicely. Lisa's daughter is her co-maintainer, but has recently gone off to college, so the extra help was much appreciated.  The ACC crew had mostly been doing chain sawing, so they were enthusiastic to do the trail maintenance tasks set for the day, which included constructing and clearing waterbars, weed whacking, vegetation cutback, and harvesting rock for future repairs on a deteriorating rock stairway on the trail. PATC volunteers for the day included Linda Beights, Cheri Acker, Karen Wilson, Jeanne Siler, Kathy Thornton, Lisa and Marit.

"Appalachian Conservation Corps (ACC) works to connect young people to critical conservation service projects across the Appalachian region and neighboring communities in Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Maryland, D.C., and Pennsylvania.  As a Corps program, ACC partners with public land managers to identify, plan, and complete projects that improve public access, habitat quality, and economic development. ACC is a program of Conservation Legacy, a nationwide network of conservation and service organizations envisioning a world of healthy lands, air, water, thriving people, and resilient communities."  The ACC crew that helped with the project on September included Sarah Lilly, Lauren Croissant, Cassie Bacon, Katie Mucha, Maria Jurioste, Erin Waldman, Silas Follendorf, Genesis Santiago, and ACC Volunteer and Youth Leader, Leah Cawthorn.  Many thanks to the 16 participants that gave the Appalachian Trail some love and TLC for the day!

submitted by Marit Anderson


Jump Rock Loop, September 4, 2021

Six hikers joined hike leader Jeff Monroe and his dog Gracie for an 8.5 mile loop to Jump Rock and two other vistas in the Goshen area.  Included among the hikers were Nancy Handley, Anna Castle, Margaret Helper, David Gilrain, and newcomers Hayden Ardrey and Jacqui Stewart.  

It was a leasurely hike, completed in 6 3/4 hours, with 2 hours and 20 minutes stopped.  The group lunched on top of Jump Rock and lingered at the other overlooks.  The bushwack portion, which occurred a little before Jump Rock, was a little more difficult than usual due to downed trees and a yellow jacket nest.  But the Tuscarora portion was in better shape than previous hikes.  

The group encountered some folks with a drone at Jump Mountain, and a trio who were camping in a hollow near the end of the hike, but otherwise there were no other humans on the loop.  Credit to Margaret Helber for most of the trail photos.  (Smile for the camera, Margaret!)


Removing Invasive Plants at Wildrock Nature Play and Discovery Center- July 18, 2021


Nine folks gathered at Wildrock Nature Play and Discovery Center on Blackwells Hollow Road in Crozet, VA to remove invasive plants along the trails and main hillside on Sunday, July 18 from 9am - 2pm. Marit Anderson was the PATC leader for the event and Kyle Crawford, land steward for Wildrock and Ladybird Farm/CSA, managed the specific work activities.  Volunteers included Joan & David Gilrain, Anna Castle, Dianne Anderson, Tony Alimenti, Cheri Acker, and Jeanne Siler.
The morning began with a tour of the Barn Center education building and then a walk along the Discovery Loop Trail.  At this point the group broke up into two teams. Marit, Jeanne, Tony, Cheri, Dianne, and Anna used loppers and pruners to cut down honeysuckle, greenbrier, and bittersweet vines along the Discovery Loop Trail.  Kyle, David, and Joan used handsaws to cut down invasive paulownia and mimosa trees on the hillside overlooking the Barn Center. The tree cutters even had a copperhead visitor, but fortunately it slithered off!
At 12:15 all stopped for lunch at the pavilion, with double chocolate chip cookies for a tasty dessert.  Some folks left after lunch and others resumed cutting invasives until 2 pm. All seemed to enjoy the exercise, beautiful outdoor setting, and a chance to help out Kyle and make the grounds and trails more inviting for the children, students, and families that enjoy Wildrock.
As stated on the website, "Wildrock is a nonprofit dedicated to promoting Nature Play for Health and Happiness. Founded through the dedicated work of hundreds of volunteers on donated land, Wildrock is a special place in nature for family bonding, creative play, and quiet reflection. Wildrock creates joyful experiences that counteract the stresses of daily life and inspire a healing relationship with the natural world.  Our primary partners are local schools, nonprofits, and universities.  Our primary goal in all our work is to promote play equity for community mental health."

submitted by Marit Anderson                                                                                                               



PATC's Virginia Appalachian Trail Series: Cove Mountain near Peaks of Otter

 A group of 5 human and 1 canine hikers braved the July heat to work on additional Virginia AT miles on Saturday, July 10, 2021.  This hike required a shuttle, and was planned to hike northbound so that a majority of the miles were oriented downhill - starting on the Blue Ridge Parkway and ending at Jennings Creek, near Buchanan, Virginia.  

The hikers included Angela Daniel, Nancy Handley, Anna Castle, and Susanna Williams, along with hike leader Jeff Monroe and his hiking companion Gracie.  Each of the women hikers expressed a desire to complete all Virginia AT miles, which is the point of this series of hikes.  Future hikes in this series will be planned, with priority going to those folks seeking to complete the 550+ miles of the AT in Virginia.

One of the highlights of this hike was the wild blueberries that were ripe along the way.  The only two other hikers we encountered were on the trail to pick blueberries.  We only sampled, to leave more for the wildlife!

Hike Details:

Distance: 9.7 miles

Time Required: 5 hours, including 4 hours moving

Ascent: 1451 feet  Descent: 2582 feet


AT Hike to Bald Knob and Cole Mountain, May 1, 2021

 A group of six PATC members hiked from the Long Mountain Wayside on U.S. 60 north on the Appalachian Trail over Bald Knob to the summit of Cole Mountain.  Although five of the hikers had experienced the Cole Mountain summit before, one hiker, newcomer Aileen had never before experienced the incredible views.  The group's veteran hikers included Karen and John Ballen, Nancy Hanley, Margaret Helber, Gracie the Canine Hiking Machine (over 3200 lifetime trail miles), and hike leader Jeff Monroe.

The group hiked uphill with a troop from Richmond, training for Philmont, along with a couple of speedy thru-hikers.  Although the summit of Cole Mountain provided for a breezy and somewhat chilly lunch spot, the rest of the hike featured perfect weather.

After summiting Cole Mountain, the group retraced their steps on the Appalachian Trail to Cow Camp Gap, where they headed west on a blue blazed trail not found on many maps.  They took this trail to an intersection with an old woods road, which they followed south to Forest Road 520, which took the group back to the Long Mountain Wayside.

Total distance: 10.5 miles

Total Ascent: 3069 feet

Total hike time: 6:07 (moving time: 4:44)

A great time was had by all!  Photos below courtesy of Margaret.