October 21, 2009
From: Rockfish Gap
To: Campsite south of Humpback Rocks Picnic area
I was going to finish the hike of this section on the weekend, but with bad weather on the way, I decided to do it a few days earlier then planned. A fairly uneventful hike, though I am having toe pain from crushed toenails and the right toenail is leaking fluid. My left ankle is showing signs of weakness also as I stumble over small rocks on the trail - will need to work on strengthening it at home. Saw fall views from Humpback Mtn - really pretty with fall colors. Saw a nice campsite too but decided to hike on closer to the picnic area. My water situation is not good (down to a mere pint) and may have to backtrack to the picnic area tomorrow in hopes the water is still on as it is very dry out right now. Found a small area to pitch a tent and a nice rock to cook on. Managed to get enough of a signal to let my hubby know where I am. Seeing lights from the Wintergreen Resort. Tomorrow is the notorious Three Ridges area.
From: Campsite near Humpback Rock Picnic Area
To: Harpers Creek Campsite
14.2 miles (including a mile round trip for water)
Up early to backtrack to the picnic area in the hopes the water is still on. Thankfully it is and I fill up as well as take a nice, long refreshing drink. Hike on over some treacherous rocks slabs (pictured below) where the trail should really be rerouted into the woods, IMO. This is really ridiculous.
Hiked out to the Blue Ride Parkway and crossed over to be treated to nice views of the autumn colors on the distant ridgelines. And yes, plenty of rocky areas to climb over, reminiscent of my jaunts back in '07 in PA. Climbed to the Maupin Filed Shelter from Rice Gap and although I had been here several times, everything looks different in a new season. Began the climb of the Three Ridges to a splendid view of The Priest and the Tye River valley off Hanging Rock, and a view I also missed when I did this section last.
The hike down off the ridges is very long, steep, with many rock slides to negotiate, and really, too much on knees that are not used to such strenuous activity. Hence by the time I reach the campsite that night, I was having quite a bit of knee pain. Obviously I had done too many miles for the terrain, and also not enough rest stops. Lessons learned on this section hike.
From: Harpers Creek Campsite
To: Crabtree Falls Rd, Tye River Rd Intersection
12 miles (including decent down Crabtree Falls trail to the parking lot)
The day dawned cloudy with a promise of rain, but thankfully I got my gear packed up before anything fell from the skies. Knee is bothering me quite a bit from yesterday's hike, so have to take it really easy on downhills. For the first time, I'm glad for the steep uphill on the Priest as downhills are killing me. Cross over the Tye River and begin my ascent of The Priest when the rain falls. At the summit, the conditions deteriorate rapidly with rain, and wind. Feeling quite cold. Hard to see in the thick fog. Manage to make it to The Priest shelter for lunch, though it is hard to stay warm. I must admit I am glad this is my final day on the trail, between the wind and rain and my knee.
Section from James River to Rockfish Gap is finally completed for the Fall. Have now done as part of a SOBO section hike - Chester Gap, VA to Catawba, VA. Much more to go!