Monday, July 27, 2009

The Guillotine, Apple Orchard Mountain and 99 Beers on the Wall...

Cute Hubby and I were thrilled when Adam selected Virginia Tech as his college of choice.

Not only is it an excellent and well loved university, but the campus is super close to miles of yet un-hiked portions of the AT!

We made the 5 1/2 hour trek last week to get Hokie oriented and then ... well... since we were in the neighborhood... we decided to put some AT miles on our boots!

Warren planned the perfect hike that got us on the trail after orientation ended and off the trail early on the 3rd day for the ride home.

20+ miles of fun that started with The Guillotine...
The trail leads under a very large boulder which thankfully remained suspended as the Cute One and I hiked through. Then up to the summit of Apple Orchard Mountain, the highest point on the AT from Chestnut Knob in the South to Mt. Moosilauke in New Hampshire.

Nope, the mountain wasn't named because of fields of apple orchards, but rather for the stunted appearance of the trees on the summit.

Harsh conditions and strong winds on top of the mountain prune the trees all winter long making a forest of dwarf trees.

The view was spectacular from the summit as we sang "Top of the world...."

In fact, this may have been one of our most beautiful hikes to date.

Walking through the George Washington National Forest with mature timber and moss covered rocks. Sigh....

The trail in this section is also beautifully maintained.
A big thanks to all the trail club volunteers that maintain and steward the AT, while keeping the trail natural.
In particular much thanks to, the Natural Bridge Appalachian Trail Club for the superb work on this section.
And, while we are at it, a big shout out to Appalachian Trail Conservancy for all the work they do to protect the trail.
Without their hard work and efforts to conserve areas around the trail, there would probably be very little wild in the wilderness on the 2,175 mile walk.
We hiked the remander of the day passing Apple Orchard Falls Trail where we could hear a group of day hikers singing 99 bottles of beer on the wall.

They were on 34.

I'm happy!

We pitched the traveling LoveNest at Cornelius Creek Shelter and settled in for a short nap before dinner.
My guy loves his gear and his new shelter shoes.
Two Barred Owls serenaded us throughout the night.
The following morning, we stopped to admire the architecturally unique Bryant Ridge shelter, about 5 miles South.

This is the fanciest shelter we never got to sleep in.
Built in 1992, the shelter was designed by Catholic University architecture students and sports a second floor, windows and a lovely setting.

We then headed to Jennings Creek to filter as much water as possible, as the next shelter was dry.

Apparently, legend has it that a woman and her child were attacked and killed by a mountain lion while attempting to cross Jennings Creek.

We did not encounter mountain lion, but it did feel odd filtering water downstream from a group of hefty campers who were squatting in the creek smoking cigarettes.

We headed up to Cove Mountain Shelter as ominous sounding thunder rolled around over the the mountain and light rain set in.

A turkey ran down the trail ahead of us as we picked up the pace to the shelter.

The storm calmed in time for dinner and we decided to set the traveling LoveNest up inside the shelter, as we had the whole place to ourselves.
This turn out to be a most excellent decision.
As darkness fell, gail force winds blew up the mountain and lightening seemed to strike all around the shelter.
In between storms, we heard a pack of coyotes howling and barking as they hunted on the mountain-side.
So very super cool!

And, a testament to how wild this area remains.

The rain continued much of the night, but we woke dry to a clear cool day.

Cute Husband is even romantic when he is smelly and sweaty.

Note the bouquet he placed on the picnic table as he served up a delicious breakfast.

As we hiked out the next morning, we stood in awe watching the fog lift out of the valley.

It was also fascinating seeing the first green returning to this area which burned during a lightening strike wildfire last July.

The fire burned over 600 acres and closed the AT and surrounding trails. Fog.
Not smoke...
When we got to the car and prepared for the long ride home, we said what we always say after good long walk....



Chris Petrak said...

Just came over to this blog from your other one - very nice, and makes me wish I were a few years younger and had that ambition. We used to live in DWG - and helped out in summer at the church's hostel - and of course knew a lot of people who hiked the trail. From a few posts earlier, I noted downtown Stroudsburg. Went through there a few months ago - my how it has changed since we moved 12 years ago.

Anonymous said...

Whoooo hoooo! Bird Couple! GG of GG and Rhodo here. Loving the blog. We ought to get out some time and hike some miles with you two – let us know when your next adventure begins. We loved that section you hiked. I don't remember that shelter though – we must have skipped it. Looks pretty killer! Keep trucking. chick burr!


Warren and Lisa Strobel said...

GG and Rhodo!
Thanks so much for checking us out. It was wonderful to hear about your life after hiking! I check out your blog during the winter (longing for the trail) and the slide show always makes me sigh. The music is perfect!

We are doing another slice of VA in mid-August and would love to see you two. Will fly you an email when we know more.

Wood and Thrush...
PS - thanks for remembering the tropic bird!

Warren and Lisa Strobel said...

Stroudsburg was one of our favorite stopping places - I think we are now out of range. Sweet town.

Anonymous said...

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