At either end of the southern Virginia portion of the A.T. - near the New River and down near Damascus - I can pull off solo hikes by employing local hostels or outfitters to provide me a shuttle. One of these helped me complete my hike over the 4th.
Gracie the Fabulous Hiking Dog and I took off early on Saturday and drove to the Woods Hole Hostel near Pearisburg. My plan was to get shuttled south to where the A.T. crosses Interstate 77, backpack 2 days back to the hostel, stay overnight, then obtain another shuttle and climb from the New River to the hostel from the other direction. It took a little over 3 hours to drive to the hostel from Charlottesville, and another hour plus to get shuttled to the trailhead, slowed down in part because the vehicle was also shuttling other hikers who stopped at Trent's Grocery near Dismal Creek to pick up packages. I was on the trail just before noon on the 4th.
|Wood's Hole Hostel
|Crossing Kimberling Creek, beginning Day 2
Gracie was sporting her own pack, replete with two bowls, several bottles of water, and a generous allotment of doggie kibble. I was carrying Gracie's bed, a two person tent, and the rest of the gear - weighing in around 25 pounds - including food and water.
|Green Tunnel on the A.T.
|Some really old signs in this part of the forest.
Shortly after our first shelter, Gracie and I came across a trio of hikers taking a break. The trio was thru-hiking from Georgia, but planned to boat the Shenandoah River starting in Waynesboro to Harper's Ferry. They were the most memorable people I met that weekend - a mother and twin four-year olds that were later featured in the Roanoke newspaper. Link.
We hiked until 8 before camping under some trees. Gracie the Fabulous Hiking Dog and I camped beside the trail, and were glad to make it to Dismal Creek on the second day because we saw no water the entire first 20 miles of the hike.
The trail was prettier the second day, as we walked through the thick cover next to the creek before climbing to another ridge top and getting our one really great view of the weekend.
|The newer Wapiti Shelter
Gracie and I made it to Woods Hole Hostel at about 3 PM on the second day. The proprietor Neville greeted us like old friends! I was happy to pay extra to get my shower in before driving back home. Although I originally planned to hike a third day, I decided to cut the trip short as I wasn't sure how my body would handle another day on the trail. I'll be back on the A.T. again in August to connect my hike to the New River and finally complete the 120 trail miles maintained by the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club, which will qualify me to join the 113 Mile Club.
|View of Pearis Mountain and the New River Valley from the best viewpoint in two days of hiking