The Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club led a hike on the first Tuesday in December of one of the sections of A.T. they maintain. The club has divided up the 120 miles of A.T. they maintain into 14 different sections, and I have done the first eight. Because it is such a long trip from Charlottesville, I convinced them to allow me to drop my car further up the trail so I could combine their Hike #9 and their Hike #10. If you are a RATC member and hike all 14 sections, you can earn a patch for your backpack, which I believe shows a blind man about to fall to his death off of McAfee Knob!
|This is a solid bridge!
|Bailey's Gap Shelter
|The Warspur Shelter looks a lot
like the Bailey's Gap Shelter.
I stopped a couple of times for water near the Warspur Shelter. (Really, I just like writing that. What a great name!) Then I flew downhill past a parking area where my fellow hikers would end their hike, and started back up the A.T., hiking past Rocky Gap to the summit of Johns Creek Mountain Trail. This was a really tough climb! It averaged at about 20%, and was 15 miles into my journey, so I didn't have a lot of extra gas on this ascent.
The trail signs in here were really old. Several had mileage for the a former Big Pond Shelter painted over, and when I later researched this shelter, I discovered that the Big Pond Shelter was moved to the present location of the Laurel Creek Shelter way back in 1988! So these signs are clearly over 25 years old, and they definitely look it. I thought the first one I came across was bad, but the sign at the junction with the Johns Creek Mountain Trail is nearly unreadable!
|At what point is a trail sign beyond its useful life?
Once at the top of John's Creek Mountain, 16 miles into my hike, I knew I had passed the last tough mile. It was level for another 1.5 miles, then steeply downhill with only a few uphill portions, almost all the way to State Route 42.
The last mile of this was through rolling fields in increasing darkness. And, just before 42, was a flowing stream in the grass, ankle deep, that successfully soaked both of my feet. No time to go barefoot!
It turns out, I spent more time finding the headlamp than using it, as I was only 100 yards from the road where I was parked.
I would not rate this as an exciting hike, but I was moving so fast that I failed to stop at either of the major overlooks - Wind Rock and Kelly Knob. I might feel differently if I broke this hike into two parts.
The longest part of the trail seemed to me to be the section between the Laurel Creek Shelter and Rt. 42. I was concerned about light, and it was near the end of the hike, which no doubt contributed.
|PATC Difficulty Factor
|Total Altitude Gain
|feet above sea level
|feet above sea level
|Time of Hike
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