Virginia – Part III

During my hike on August 19th, I managed to call my twin grandchildren and wish them both a happy 5th birthday. They were having their party that day, and excitedly told me about who was coming and their anticipated presents.

It was very hot with a temperature of 88 degrees, miserable for folks on the Trail carrying their beasts. When I finished my hike, I was picked up at the trailhead by Adam (“Stanimal”), the owner of the hiker hostel in Waynesboro. After resupplying I went to E.J’s restaurant and had a big bacon cheese burger with an egg on top called “the Hangover.” I actually ordered a salad with my meal. This was the only photo from today:

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On Sunday, August 20th, Adam dropped me off at the Trail at 0645 to slack pack. I was immediately met with this nice scene. I don’t know if this tiller is functional or not, but this setting certainly made for a very picturesque start. 

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I hiked part of the day with a gal who was at the hostel the previous night. Her Trail name is Little Bear Stumbles, a dental hygienist from Florida. We did 19 miles and were finished by 1430. I was particularly pleased with my increased hiking speed and distance in a day.

A good part of the day was involved with the ascent and descent of Humpback Mountain. Here are a couple of pictures taken from Humpback. 

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I was told that the white buildings above are condos. Can you imagine the views they have?

Monday morning, Little Bear Stumbles and I were on the Trail at 0630. It was nice and cool hiking in the early morning and I enjoyed it.

The first part of my hike was a 10-mile stretch through George Washington National Forest called The Three Ridge Wilderness. This was far more demanding than I had thought and consequently took longer. There were a couple of nice scenic vistas during this stretch and here is one of them. 

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When I completed the above section, I arrived at the base of The Priest. It is a 3100-foot, five-mile straight ascent. The day was hot, and I was not looking forward to the climb.  Half way up The Priest I was drenched with sweat and drinking liters of water. When I was two-thirds up, it was time for the eclipse. Fortunately there was an outcropping of rock which allowed a view of the sun. I ended up talking with Diane during this event and FaceTiming with three of my grandkids. Although reception was spotty, it was still nice. Because I had the protective glasses I knew what was going on, but otherwise I never would have known there was an eclipse. I was in the 85% zone, and it never really got noticeably darker. Crickets started chirping, and the forest became very still and quiet, but I am not convinced that was due to the eclipse.

This hike was the most demanding hike I’d done since I left Maine. Virginia had not been difficult up to this point, but it was that day.

On Tuesday the 22nd, I hiked 20.6 miles. The hike was mostly in a 500-foot elevation profile, except for the end, which was a 2000-foot descent over 2.8 miles. Here are two pictures from the Trail. The first one is taken from the bottom of this mountain pasture looking up to the Trail. The second is taken from the top looking down. You can see a few locals on day hikes picnicking. I don’t think I have seen areas such as this since the Boiling Springs section in Pennsylvania. 

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This last photo was one of several beautiful scenes along my hike. 

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On Wednesday, August 23rd, I started out on the Trail at 0640 with Little Bear Stumbles. She asked me to go first, saying, “You can break up the spider webs.” So that’s what I did. The previous couple of days were much more demanding than it was in Shenandoah National Park. Within the first hour of the hike I was stung on my lower leg by a hornet or a wasp. It bothered me the entire day.

We hiked up Rice and Bluff Mountains. This first picture was taken from Rice Mountain. 

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This  next picture was from Bluff Mountain which was 12.5 miles into the hike and where we had lunch. 

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Also on the summit of of Bluff Mountain is a monument to Ottie Cline Powell. Locals tell me he and classmates were all searching for wood to burn at the school and little Ottie wandered off and no one noticed. 

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Granted, that was over a century ago and norms were different, but Bluff Mountain’s summit is 3,372 ft. It really was not an easy climb for me, let alone a 4-year-old. It is hard to understand what actually happened.

We hiked 21.5 miles, which is now my longest day’s hike on the Trail. At the end of the day we were picked up and driven back to the hostel in Glasgow. I was up a good part of that night, scratching my lower leg from that hornet or wasp bite I got yesterday. It drove me crazy!

On Thursday, August 24th, we hiked 20 miles under cloud cover with a breeze. To her credit, Little Bear Stumbles volunteered to lead today and break up the spider webs. It was just perfect hiking weather. Here are some pictures from the hike. This picture of the Trail demonstrates that Mother Nature can do her own landscaping; it actually looked professionally manicured.

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The following pics were taken from Apple Orchard Mountain and Thunder Ridge Overlook.

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These two photos are of the James River Footbridge in Glasgow, VA. I was told that this is the longest footbridge on the AT. 

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This rock is called “The Guillotine” — for obvious reasons!

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