Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Plans are never set in concrete ...

... and ours have once again changed. Looking at the weather while traveling to and from Dallas, we saw that once again snow was forecasted for the Shenandoah/North Virginia area and Georgia was to be on the upswing of both sunshine and temperatures. So yes, you guessed it, we changed and headed to the southern terminus of the AT in Amicalola Falls State Park, Georgia. We will become Northbounders (NOBOs) now until we hit the last pick-up point in Shenandoah National Park.

This is by far, more technical and harder than the trail that we have experienced so far (barring the snow of course). The mountains are higher, the trails less accessible, and very little straight, even trail. Still Danny is up to it.

We drove through the rain from Dallas to Canton, GA where, the next morning, the sun broke out. By the time we got to Amicalola Falls State Park, things were heating up, figuratively and virtually. The temps were warm, sunscreen a necessity and no room at the proverbial inn due to people everywhere. The first of the hike was not even on the AT, but rather the "approach" - 8.5 miles of all uphill or up-mountain if you will - to reach Springer Mountain summit, the start of the AT. This also included 604 steps in two sections up the falls.
50 degrees and sunshining ...

 how many miles to finish??????

 everyone goes through the gate behind the Visitor's centre.

The Trail Angel down at the parking lot at the lower end of Springer Mountain, on the AT, says that only 40% of all through hikers actually come up from Amicalola Falls State Park so he has some bragging rights there. I hiked "up" the .9 miles from the parking lot to the summit to meet him and then hike back down. A good day for a good second start.

the original plaque that is found on the side of the boulder where the white blaze for the start of the AT and the blue blaze for the approach come together:

This is found on a boulder of the actual summit

The Southern Terminus of the AT.

the view that I enjoyed while waiting for Danny:

and here he comes ...

and so ends the first day back on the trail, this time NorthBound (NoBo).

Monday, April 8, 2013


It is said that the AT in Virginia has 1/4 of the miles of the whole AT but not the highest in elevation. Each state has its own unique traits and so far our unique trait has to have been SNOW.
first on March 18

 our car has a mustache

Then yes, we have been grounded once again because of the snow. This time for 3 days and possibly 4. The weather forecast on the morning of March 24 showed us that
 the snow was scheduled to fall, 5-8inches worth, starting in the afternoon, all along the Shenandoah Valley and National Park (NP) where we were scheduled to hike through. Well we, thought, Danny could at least go into the park and hike out before it hits. Right! We got to the entrance and we were informed that they were preemptively closing the park in a couple of hours because they expected ice in the higher elevations. So that ended that.

We decided to go further south and see what things would happen, visiting with a PC friend in Radford, VA. Only a 4 hour drive to get there ...
 Driving through the countryside on a backroad, we followed where the hiking is, along Skyline Dr in the Shenandoah NP, where there is still snow from the last snowfall and the temps remain in the 30's. The sky was grey but occasionally the sun would peak out. In no time at all, however, the snow, giant thick, heavy, wet flakes started to fall. We headed over to I-81 where the traffic would keep the roads passable, we hoped.

We arrived without incident and settled in to wait out the storm and visit with our friend:

The next morning we awoke to a world of white:
outside of Sean's home with fluffy, sparkling snow and blue skies. Soon however the clouds rolled back in and we were under storm conditions again. The next day, more of the same. But this time we ventured out on a small excursion to see a village highly recommended. 
Floyd, VA:  The General Store renowned for it's Bluegrass/Appalachian music Jamborees on Friday nights.

 the old school house that has been transformed into 3 floors of fabric and quilting supplies. Apparently people come from all over to this business establishment. But a lot of the tourist-type businesses were closed Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Danny was anxious to get back to his hiking and the snow was scheduled to diminish greatly by Wednesday afternoon so we headed out that morning. The drive was good, heavy clouds interspersed with blue skies and sunshine and an occasional snow flurry. We decided on a stay in Luray and contacted PC friends who happened to be in Luray at this same time. Arrangements were made to try and hue in the morning. We made a foray into the park later in the afternoon to take a look at the trails - I know that Danny was hoping to get in some miles as well but .... all fresh snow, all 6-8 inches of it and the trails not broken.
 none in the valley but more on the way...

A wonderful coffee house breakfast, great conversation and then we were off. 
 cold and dreary, heavy skies, no sunshine
 We can try this trail here, not too far
 Mel, Ann, Danny ready to try it

 Shirley really needs to dress better, don't you think?
and they are off ...
they came out here  unbroken trail, too heavy a toll on the energy, maybe another day! Of course, the sun came out later in the day and so did the hikers.

We had a wonderful day however, and look forward to tomorrow when Danny plans on hiking 10 miles, unless he has to break the trail. It is Easter Weekend and the hikers will be out in force, as will the sun and the temperatures are scheduled to rise.

March 29 - Yup, the hikers are out in force. The sun is shining and the temps are on the rise, and Danny is out on the trail again. We have no cell service up here on Skyline Dr, in Shenandoah National Park so am unable to watch his progress on Spot. We arrange it so that we meet every few miles so that I know he is ok. It is very taxing going through 6" or more of fresh snow. Some trail segments have had only a couple of people on them, others none, so he is pretty much in fresh snow.
 hopefully this will blow over

he is determined 

 this was my view point at one of our checkin points.
 It is pretty awesome to look at, even if not so for hiking

 friends (as well as an abundance of squirrels) shared the road

 he is in his glory!

But then life reared it's head and we headed back to Dallas for a very quick trip. Plans are never set min concrete and ours are about to change again.