The mountains called, and so I went. With the plans waylaid this summer due to unforeseen circumstances, health, weather, and otherwise, I decided on a short Appalachian Trail section through the Three Ridges northbound into Shenandoah National Park. I had not done this part northbound in a number of years, so I thought it would be nice to revisit.
Monday, August 29, 2011
From Crabtree Meadows to Maupin Field Shelter
Like all the other plans I usually make, this one did not follow the normal course of things. I arrived at the Crabtree Falls parking lot, intending to hike all the way up the falls route to access the AT, until found out that without a season permit, you can only park for the day (and I was leaving my car for close to a week). So I had to quickly switch gears, and gears in my old car, and chug it up the narrow mountain road with obstacles galore to the Crabtree Meadows parking lot. Because it took a few miles off from the wander that day, I decided I could go farther than planned. And farther I did, hiking up and over the Priest, and on the way down, promptly fell flat on my face and scraped my knees as if I were an elementary student again on the playground. At least I didn't injure myself too badly. I then proceeded to head up into the Three Ridges. Now I recalled the downhill portion of this route, as it was there when hiking southbound that my left knee gave out, and I had knee pain for quite a while after the hike was done. So I knew it was steep going. But I made fairly good time and was rewarded at Hanging Rock with a gorgeous view as the video shows. Camp that night was in a nice tenting area away from the shelter, and thankfully there was enough water in pools for both cooking and water the next day. I managed to set up my tent and cook just before the rain fell. Good timing all around, but I was fairly bushed from a long hiking day.
Tuesday, August 30th
From Maupin Field Shelter to Paul C Wolf Shelter
This is a fairly lengthy portion of trail to go from one shelter to the next unless you choose to camp in between. But I chose to go ahead and do the route as I was fairly familiar with it. When arrived at the Blue Ride Parkway, the clouds were still in place from the evening's rain, but soon began to break, offering pleasant scenes of the woods with the sunlight streaming. I walked below the outcroppings of Raven's Roost where many climbers test their skill, and yes, have lost their lives. Near the end, I spotted my first and only bear of the trip, a medium size fellow foraging.
On my way to Humpback Mountain, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the trail club had rerouted the trail away from what I deemed back in an earlier Blissful Hiking blog post of a senseless rock pile that the trail meandered up and over. They had done away with the route and put the trail over to one side which made much more sense. Kudos to the trail crew for doing this!
|New reroute to the left NOBO avoids a bad section of rocks|
I arrived later that day at the shelter area expecting hikers to be there, especially as I had already passed two college orientation groups en masse going southbound. But no one showed, and I was alone for the night in my tent.
From Paul C Wolfe Shelter to Calf Mtn Shelter
|Backcountry Permit Station along the trail in Shenandoah after leaving Rockfish Gap. Get your permit here. There is one here and one as you enter the park from the north.|
|Beagle Gap, SNP|
|Calf Mtn Shelter, SNP|
From Calf Mtn Shelter to Loft Mountain Wayside
The day went quickly, but I was fairly exhausted by the time I reached the wayside, with just minutes to spare to buy a very pricey hamburger before they closed. But I credit this day with leading me to do my ultra marathon day hike the following week back up in Shenandoah when I hiked one whole section, 35 miles. I realize that this 22 mile day was the longest mileage I had ever done in the park, even with day hiking, up until my 35 mile day last Friday. I have seen a few personal bests done the past few weeks, and it helps to set my sights perhaps on some future goals as yet to be written. Time will tell.