Wednesday, October 19, 2016
AT - Damascus to VA 16
Day One: 9.8
Damascus to Saunders Shelter
Day Two: 12.6
Saunders Shelter to Whitetop Mt. Rd
Day Three: 12.8
Whitetop Mt. Rd to Big Wilson Creek
Day Four: 10.8
Big Wilson Creek to Hurricane Mt. Shelter
Day Five: 5.1
Hurricane Mt. Shelter to VA16
We left Friday evening and stayed at Panther Creek State Park for the night. Saturday morning we got on the trail in Damascus. In the parking area there was another couple in a blue Subaru the same year as ours, so we had to say hi. We hiked to Subway and picked up our lunch/dinner for the day and got on the trail.
The weather was great and so was the hike. This time we passed the 500 mile mark on the AT. We had fires each night and slept without our tarps every night. The moon shone like a streetlight every night. We saw a lot of Southbound Thru-hikers and dodged some bikes on the Virginia Creeper trail. We went without our drink mixes and hot chocolate that LORA forgot to pack.
After we dodged some bikers on the Virginia Creeper trail, we joined back up on the AT and met the couple from the Subaru coming at us. They were doing a day hike. Shortly after that Lora checked my heart by doing her high pitched school girl scream. The snake about had a heart attack as well. We saw lots of woolly worms on the trail, none with the same color pattern. We also got to see our first honey bee hive in a tree.
We spent our first night with eleven others at the Saunders Shelter. Lots of visiting took place around the campfire. We also found out that LORA forgot the hose to our water filter.....luckily I carry my pump as well.
We got up and did us some hiking today. We leapfrogged with a couple of Kentucky boys that were at the shelter last night. We passed two other guys early in the morning who said they were out of water. We passed around eight crossings right after that so not sure why. We had to do some more bike dodging as we did another short section of the Virginia Creeper trail.
We were so proud of our accomplishment today, we stopped at our campsite for the night at 1:45 in the afternoon. When we figured that the phone had the right time, we picked up our packs and continued hiking. We climbed and climbed and climbed and finally ended up on top of Whitetop Mountain. There was a little boy and his dad at Buzzard rock enjoying the view. We came to the piped spring, cleaned up, filled up and found us a campsite for real. Another beautiful night. We walked back to the road and watched the sunset.
It was a very rocky day today as we climbed up Mt. Rodgers. We took the side trail to summit the mountain. We found ourselves looking at a pile of rocks with no view in the woods. Not very impressed with that summit, we ate our lunch and hiked back to the AT.
The Thomas Knob shelter was more impressive with the fancy logs and upstair sleeping room. Right after that you get to some great views as the trail follows along the rocky peaks and the wild ponies are everywhere. We squoze through the Fat Man's Squeeze and saw a couple flying a kite. They had a camera attached lower on the string to get some good views.
We crossed through the Grayson Highlands State Park which was uneventful. There is plenty of water sources and camping area's before the Wise Shelter. We went beyond the shelter to the campground beyond Big Wilson Creek. We had another hiker to visit with that night around the campfire. Sometime in the night we woke up to light rain from an absolutely clear starry night. Not sure how that happened, but it didn't last long. We heard coyotes and owls through the night.
Windy this morning. Very windy! Lora had a hard time staying on the trail across the Scales with the wind blowing her. We saw some bear scat and cows on the way across. As we approached the corral, we saw a cow butt in the trail. We hollered to get it's attention and it turned and looked with it's long horns. As we got closer it started walking down the trail and later followed us through the gate at the corral so we could close it in with the other longhorns.
We continued to the Hurricane Mt. Shelter where we made camp across the trail next to the creek. We heard a Screech Owl that evening and we had a noise that sounded like limbs breaking all night long. Never could find what that was.
We woke to the call of a crow. He didn't want us to sleep in today. We continued on the trail to VA16. We got to see the Comers Falls which is pretty much a small cascade on the way. Dad and Mom picked us up and took us back to Damascus to the car.