Hiking Trail Journals
Appalachian Trail 2003 -
Entry #64 - June 3, 2003
8:05 PM - Were pretty undecided about what to
do when we woke up yesterday. Even though we had done the big mileage
the day before, we realized it really wasn't going to get us into
Troutville any sooner, because of the spacing of the shelters.
Left Pickle Branch with clear skies - a miracle! The first item
on the Trail was a climb up to Dragon's Tooth. Stopped for a rest
near the top and it was there we decided on an easy day (7 miles
total) and to stop at Four Pines Hostel for the night. Had an excellent
hike then, taking our time and basking in the warmth of dryness
of the sun. Sat for probably an hour for our break and then continued
on up. To our surprise, it wasn't even 5 minutes later - and we
were at the Tooth (well, after taking a blue blaze off the trail).
It was a magnificent rock structure jutting straight up toward
the sky 30 or 40 (or more?) feet. Took another break then and played & climbed
around a bit. Then came the rough part of the day - climbing down
the other side of the mountain - steep rock faces & boulders
to scramble & slide down, some even fitted with iron handholds.
Definitely not easy with a heavy pack! Eventually we made it down
- torture on the knees!
Just before the road where we'd turn off & go
to the hostel, we found Trail Magic! A cooler with pop, gatorade,
candy bars, etc. We each had an apple pie snack, something I'd
been craving & was overexcited to see, and a drink. After that
it was on to Four Pines.
What a cool place! A guy, Joe Mitchell, had converted
his garage (nice, new, 3-stall) into a place for hikers. Has a
bathroom & shower, a fridge with pop & beer, and all kinds
of cooking aids! Cots & mattresses for sleeping on, too. We
were glad we had decided to stay. Went to the store & picked
up hot dogs for grilling, beer, and various other items. Had a
great evening with DoubleDare, Iron Chef, Strawbale & more.
Jim was a really nice guy, too. Not a hiker, but just likes the
company, I guess. Runs it on donations & takes a photo of all
of his guests. We'll have to drop him a line.
Woke to rain today. At first it was just a drizzle
- OK for hiking. It was a great morning, felt really energized & happy.
Took a break after 8 or 9 miles, but by then the rain had picked
up & we were soaked. Had lunch @ Catawba Mtn Shelter & were
freezing & closing in on miserable. Was almost thinking we
should stop early, just to be able to get a shelter spot...Were
planning on the shelter just 10 miles out of Troutville & we
worried it would be full. Decided to move on.
We hiked to McAffee Knob, then. It's supposed
to have one of the best views in Virginia, and it's also got this
cool rock ledge outcropping that is kind of a famous Appalachian
Trail photo op. Well, the fog allowed us NO view, and it also prevented
us from taking any pictures. With all the fog, the camera wouldn't
focus far, and wouldn't even snap a shot.
Well, we cruised down & on to Tinker Cliffs.
Another great viewing area, I presume. The cliffs were still cool,
though - huge boulders & sheer dropoffs. Definitely a place
we could revisit in fairer weather.
Hiked like madmen the rest of the way to ensure
a shelter spot. To our surprise, Lamberts Meadow Shelter was empty
- we were first! Glad to be out of the rain. DoubleDare, Iron Chef,
Phoenix & his buddy showed up. Hoping to be up early tomorrow
to get into town.
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Preparing to Hike
the Appalachian Trail?
Commonly used guides by A.T. thru-hikers
include the Appalachian
Trail Guides (published by the Appalachian Trail
Conference), the Appalachian
Trail Thru-Hiker's Companion, and the Appalachian
Trail Data Book. The guide series includes a guide
for each section, along with a series of trail maps. The
Thru-Hiker's Companion has helpful info on towns, shelters,
and water. The Data Book has basic distance info for road
crossings, shelters, and other features. All are excellent
tools for use during a long distance hike.