Thursday, December 11, 2014

A.T. Burke's Garden Backpack, Day 3: Va 615 (Suiter Road) to U.S. 52

Day 3 of our A.T. backpack past Burke's Garden on October 10th was the shortest of our trip from October 8th - 10th.  (Here are descriptions of our previous days: Day 1.  Day 2.)  We were scheduled to get picked up by a couple of friends, former thru-hikers both, at 11 AM on Friday, October 10th. The promise of a free ride back to our vehicle was a strong incentive to get on the trail and push towards the end, so we would be waiting for our ride, rather than the other way around.

The day's hike started out with 10 switchbacks up Brushy Mountain before reaching an intersection with the Trail Boss Trail.  The Trail Boss Trail is an old roadbed, and is the old A.T. route.  Continuing north, the A.T. now follows this roadbed for a little while before splitting off and hugging the side of the mountain.  
Intersection, Trail Boss Trail.
Along the way there were a few views from the trail, beautiful despite morning rains, and made more beautiful because of the autumn colors.  By the time we reached the end of our hike, it was raining hard.  

View looking west toward Round Mountain past Hunting Camp Creek.
View looking north towards Interstate 77 and the Kimberling Creek Wilderness.
We arrived early at U.S. 52 and passed the time by talking to several section hikers, including "Lebowski," who was packing a heavy tarp from Lowes.  Lebowski and his colleagues were thrilled to meet Pete, who is CEO of the company that publishes one of their favorite board games.  They literally treated him like a rock star! All three hikers were from Yorkville, Illinois, which is now on the edge of the Chicago suburbs but was rural farmland when I lived in Illinois.
"Trail Angels" who don't clean up what they leave behind are no angels in my book.

Pete poses with hikers from Yorkville, Illinois.
The three hikers gratefully accepted the extra food we carried for our entire journey before heading on their way.  I don't think I will ever master the art of carrying "just the right amount" of food when backpacking - I always carry too much.
Lebowski shows off his backpack cover.
This guy is definitely not an ultralighter! 
We were then invited into the Bland County Senior Center to warm up and dry off.  One of the regulars told us about when the A.T. used to be located on Walker Mountain, saying he never had any desire to hike any of the trail even though he had lived right next to it on Walker Mountain.  We appreciated the kindness of those folks and dried off considerably before catching our ride back to the starting trailhead.
Waiting for our ride outside the Bland County Senior Citizen Center.
Elevation Profile - Day 3
This was a very enjoyable three day journey!  It is a section that is overall very remote, and is therefore hard to do as a series of dayhikes.  I highly recommend it - if you can find a shuttle back to your starting point.  I am grateful to my friends who took time out on their way to a race to do the shuttle.  Here is a map of Day 3: Map.

For the year, there was one more section of new miles on the trail, just to the south of our starting point on this trip.  I completed it with the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club a couple of weeks later. Link.  As 2014 comes to a close, I have now completed over 500 miles of the A.T. in Virginia, including about 110 new miles this year alone - nearly all of them south of the New River.  I now have only a little over 10% of the state's trail left.  Completing those miles are high on the priority list for 2015.

Day 3 Hike details.
PATC Difficulty Factor: 161.8
Total Distance: 6.9 miles 
Total Time: 2 hours, 44 minutes 

Altitude Gain: 1895 ft.
Low Point: 2558 ft.Starting Elevation: 2558 ft.
Low Point: 2558 ft.
Highest Point: 3175 ft.
Difference: 617 ft.

Total Trip Hike details.
Total Distance: 35.7 miles 
Total Time hiking: 18 hours, 40 minutes over 3 days 
Total Altitude Gain: 11564 feet
Highest Point: 4444 ft.
Lowest Point: 2285 ft.
Difference: 2159 ft.

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