Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Day 142- 151, 4 Aug - 13 Aug...Natural Bridge AT Club Rocks!!!!!!!


In case anyone was wondering, we love the Natural Bridge Appalachian Trail Club.  We have been disappointed with the Roanoke AT Club, but the Natural Bridge Club has earned our accolades.  The AT is maintained by volunteers from various Clubs along the trail, with each club being responsible for a specific section of the trail.  The section of the trail the Roanoke AT Club maintains was terrible, meaning that it wasn't maintained, meaning that the trail was overgrown, downed trees and limbs had not been removed and rock work or steps, etc. were washed out or not installed.  The only part of the Roanoke AT Club trail that was properly maintained was the section from Daleville, VA to just south of Blackhorse Gap where Natural Bridge take over.  Whoever maintains that section does an amazing job and needs to teach the rest of the Roanoke Club how to maintain trail.  

Since we have entered the Natural Bridge AT Club area. ie. the Blue Ridge Parkway we have been truly amazed by the quality of trail maintanence.  All downed limbs and trees are clear of the trail, foliage has been trimmed back at least 1 ft on each side of the trail, steps and rock work are impecable and passable and all of the privys and shelters are updated and useable.

Natural Bridge needs to give some lessons to Roanoke!!

We are doing well and consistently knocking out 10 miles a day.  We needed some rain to fill up the watering holes, but it can stop now as we are close to sprouting gills. 

Day 142, Mon 4 Aug, 725.9 miles
Start Daleville, VA
End just south of VA 652, meadow on bald

We momentarily got sucked into the vortex of Daleville, VA, but were able to pull ourselves out today and got back on the trail.  The moon, Mars, Saturn and star Spica are supposed to be all in a row tonight in the night sky, so we found a great spot on top of a small bald and set up camp. In addition to a great open spot to enjoy the night sky tonight, there a two huge blackberry patches on the side of this bald so we are chowing down on blackberries.

Hendo's Mom enjoying the view.  If you look closely you can see the various cow patties.  We were able to find a patty free spot to put up out tent and enjoy the stars.

Hendo picking blackberries...yum!!

Loads of berries!!!!

Day 143, Tues 5 Aug, 733.4 miles
Start just south VA 652
End stream

There weren't any cows in this part of the meadow when we went to sleep watching stars last night, but this morning the welcome committee came to greet us.  

Today was a good day of hiking, a bit of a climb in the morning, but moderate later in the day.  The trail since Daleville has been awesome, unlike the trail south of Daleville.  Whoever maintains this section of the trail needs to teach others how to do so.  We had a bit of a challenge with our food bag tonight.  To hang our food each night, we clip our two carribeeners to our 550-cord, toss them over a tree limb and then hoist up our bags.  Tonight our carribeeners got stuck on a small broken limb and the three-ring circus ensued to get them unstuck.  I am sure the bears and deer were quite entertained by our escapade, but in the end we were able to successfully retrieve our stuck line and get our food hung, safe and sound.

One of the bulls who greeted us this morning

Day 144, wed 6 Aug, 742.5 miles
Start Stream
End Bobblet Gap Shelter

Another milestone has been reached...we have made it to Blue Ridge Pkwy!!!!  We met a gentleman as we arrived at the Blue Ridge Parkway at Blackhorse Gap, who is an avid alpine climber and graciously offered us icewater and ice.  What a wonderful invention ice is.  It was pretty warm today so his trail magic of ice water and ice was perfectly timed!!  We got some rain today, while it is needed, we would appreciate it if it could rain at night when we are not hiking.  I know, we are picky hikers...haha!!  Otherwise it was a moderate day of hiking, the Parkway is a little flatter and we like that.  Today we had a pretty good wildlife view day, coming upon a turkey, a Red Eft/Red Spotted Newt, a deer, a garter snake and a rust colored toad.

Hendo's Mom and Hendo on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Hendo showing her love for the Blue Ridge Parkway

Day 145, Thurs 7 Aug, 749 miles
Start Bobblets Gap Shelter
End Cove Mountain Shelter

Today we hitched a ride from the Parkway to the Peaks of Otter Lodge and Restaurant, located along the Parkway.  Hendo's Mom enjoyed a Salmon burger, Hendo had a hamburger and fries and we shared a spinach salad and cheese cake for desert.  We got somemore rain showers today and through the night.

Baby swallows calling for their mom in the entrance to Peaks of Otter Lodge

A baby turtle on the trail today

The inside of our tent at the end of a day of hiking in the rain.

Day 146, Fri 8 Aug, 756 miles
Start Cove Mountain Shelter
End Bryant Ridge Shelter

Today we made a quick stop at Middle Creek Campground to resupply on food and headed on to Bryant Shelter.  Bryant shelter is without question the nicest shelter on the trail thus far.  Oh, and it rained again today.

Day 147, Sat 9 Aug, Zero Day Bryant Ridge Shelter

Poured down rain all day.  I/Hendo forgot the AT Guide book at Middle Creek Campground yesterday, so I hiked back to get the guidebook.  While on my way to Middle Creek I ran into some Bear Dog Hunters.  After speaking with Susan at Middle Creek Campground about bear hunting with dogs, I am not a fan.  A good thing about hiking back to Middle Creek was that I was able to get up some hot breakfast sandwhiches at the grill, which helped to warm up a cold rainy day.  We have a 3000 foot climb in front of us and we decided we didn't feel like trudging through it in the pouring down rain so we are enjoying the amazing Bryant Shelter for the day.  

Day 148, Sun 10 Aug, 766.2 miles
Start Bryant Ridge Shelter
End Thunder Hill Shelter

Today started with a 3000 ft climb up Floyd Mountain...lets just say we are glad we don't have to do that everyday.  Mother nature was nice enough to slow the rain down a bit while we were climbing, but at the end of the day we were still wet and tired.  We are the only ones at the shelter tonight, so we have set up our tent inside the shelter which will keep us and the tent dry.  Worst thing about the rain is having to pack up and carry a wet tent.  This shelter has a steel roof, so the rain sounds like a load of rocks being poured on the the roof continuously.

Day 149, Mon 11 Aug, 770.9 miles
Start Thunder Hill Shelter
End Petites Gap

Guess rained all night and today.  Last night we didn't sleep well at all due to the noise of the rain beating down on the shelter's steel roof.  We were wet and tired and have a 1000 ft climb in front of us, so we decided to call it a day and set up camp at Petites Gap.  The rain subsided for a bit, so we were able to get set up during the brief reprieve.  There isn't any shelter here, but there is an information kiosk, so we have set up our tent and moved it under the info kiosk as far as we can, which should provide us a little more protection from the rain.
Day 150, Tues 12 Aug, 780.8 miles
Start Petites Gap
End US 501, Glasgow, VA

It really stormed last night, while the kiosk provided some added protection it still rained and blowed all night and we didn't sleep all that well.  Today we made it to Glasgow, VA.  On our way we crossed the James River via the longest foot-use only bridge on the AT.  The city has built an amazing hiker shelter area complete with a hot shower and we are told the rain is supposed to stop.  So we will be dry tonight and hopefully the sun comes out tomorrow so we can dry out the rest of our gear.  Tonight we had an awesome hot meal at a local Italian restaurant.

Hendo and Hendo's Mom on the James River Foot Bridge


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