Oh, and Hendo has now lost a total of 61 lbs. I needed another pair of smaller pants and lucked out when I found a pair in the hiker box at Four Pines Hostel, so I didn't have to buy another pair.
Day 128, Mon 21 Jul, 669.1 miles
Start Mountain Lake Rd
End Laurel Creek Shelter
Today was quite the day...I am not a fan of the Roanoke AT Club, we never want to climb another Kelly Knob and the slate/shintz rock stuff here in VA can kiss our hinies.
Supposedly, from what we have heard from others the Roanoke AT Club is one of the larger and more active clubs along the AT...well that is a lie. The condition of the section we hiked today is some of the worst maintained we have encountered. Kelly Knob was insane, you need full body armor and/or a machete in order to make it through the stinging nettle which has completely over-grown the trail and has not been trimmed back.
Three questions we have for the Roanoke AT Club:
1. Does your club have a maximum height limit of 5'2" for your members, as none of the limbs or trees down across the trail are trimmed higher than 5'2"?
2. Does the Roanoke AT club have a maximum width limit of 8 inches for its members, because the trail was not trimmed any wider than 8 inches?
3. Maintenance or to maintain, means a cintinual or repeating upkeep of an item, it is quite apparent that this section of the trail is not given any onetime attention, yet alone repeating.
Mom in mountainside of huge ferns
Cute map sign at Mountain Lake Rd...could use a little TLC, paint touch-up, obviously too much effort for Roanke AT Club to take care of.
We found the 'You Are Here' too funny
It was damp and foggy this morning, the spiderwebs were bejeweled with dew!!
Day 129, Tues 22 Jul, 672.4 miles
Start Laurel creek Shelter
End VA 630
Today was a resuply day, at Hwy 42 we hitched a ride into ,Newport, VA. Just before 42, a family of beavers has dammed the little creek, resulting in a good size pond and flooded bog area. Someone has been nice and put in some log boardwalks so hikers can cross the bog area dry.
Beaver Dam and resulting pond
The beaver house in the beaver pond
Hendo's Mom on the boardwalk through the bog
A Mr. Sarver stopped and picked us up and gave us a ride in to Newport. Mr. Sarver stated that the shelter named Sarver Hollow we would be coming up to soon was named after his family who used to live in the area where the shelter is located. Mr. Sarver dropped us off at the grocery store where we met Jill, James and Joe. Jill graciously gave us a ride to the local restaurant Mikies 7th. Jill even said she would check back at the grocery later to see if we needed a ride back to the trailhead...there are such nice people in the trail world. We had a delicious lunch at Mikies 7th, the best burgers ever!!! If you ever find yourself in Newport, VA you have to stop by Mikies 7th for a meal!! Randy, a local mail-carrier ended up giving us a ride back to the trailhead. Randy was even nice enough to take us by a local cocered bridge which was originally built in 1916. It was great to see some local countryside and history.
1916 covered bridge
Mom washing out some clothes in the creek at our campsite for the night
Day 130, Wed 23 Jul, 675.5
Start VA 630
End Sarver Hollow shelter
Hendo hugging Keffer Oak, largest tree on the AT in the south
Hendo next to Keffer Oak
I, Hendo, was not feeling well today and we had a crazy climb, that kicked my butt. We stopped for a nap and met Rummy, a woman who thru-hiked the trail 2 years ago and was out for a 5 day section hike. Rummy's hip was bothering her so she was going to stop at Sarver Hollow Shelter for the night and asked if we would like to join her. Sarver Shelter if 0.4 miles off the trail, which is every unusual and considered too far for most of us, so there are few people that venture to shelters so far off the trail. As a result, Rummy would probably be by herself unless we joined her. Since water has been so scarce and I wasn't feeling well, mom and I decided to join Rummy at Sarver Shelter. As expected we were the only three hikers at the shelter...therefore mom and I set up our tent screen inside the shelter and officially spent our first night in a shelter. It turned out to be a good decision that we set up in the shelter, because it rained but since we were in the shelter our tent stayed dry and we didn't have to pack up or carry a wet tent.
Day 131, Thur 24 Jul, 681.5 miles
Start sarver hollow shelter
End Niday Shelter
Hendo is feeling better today, but dislikes the Roanoke AT Club even more. The hike from Sarver Shelter back UP to the trail is quite the hike at 0.4miles long, but it is at least fairly well maintained and nicely switchbacked. Question is, why can't the AT itself be maintained and switchbacked just as well?
It rained on and off all day today, but we made it to Niday Shelter just in time before the thunderstorms moved in. We saw our first bear today, a cub running home to its den to get out of the rain. Mama bear was not in sight, so she must have been leading the way.
The AT ran along the Eastern Continental Divide for a while today
Hendo's Mom and Hendo at the Eastern Continental Divide
The trail ran along some rock outcroppings along the ridgeline today, luckily it wasn't raining during this half-mile section, as the rock can be very slippery when wet.
Day 132, Fri 25 Jul, 682.9 miles
Start Niday Shelter
End VA 621
After 3 days of getting rained on and 8 days since our last shower and laundry, we decided to seek some respite at the Four Pines Hotel. It is a donation only hostel, so we we were able to pinch our pennies, but still have a dry place to stay. We helped clean up around the hostel since we weren't able to pay as much as we would have liked to.
Day 133, Sat 26 Jul, 689.3 miles
Start VA 621
End VA 624
Today was quite the day, hiking 15.4 miles and visiting the Audie Murphy Memorial and The Dragon's Tooth along the trail.
There was a bench along the trail up Brush Mountain on the way to Audie Murphy's Memorial. Of course Hendo had to stop and use it.
Hendo at Audie Murphy's Memorial. This is the Mountain which his airplane crashed into and he was killed. It is a humble and amazing memorial with countless tokens of appreciation and honor. I shared some of my Jack Daniels with him, a fitting tribute for such an American Hero. In Iraq I had the honoring of supporting/serving with Audie Murphy's company, B Company, 1/15 th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division.
A 7th Special Forces Group hat is among the tokens of honor left at the Audie Murphy Memorial.
A look at Dragon's Tooth from Four Pines Hostel, rock monolith outcropping in left half of picture
Dragon' Tooth up close
Hendo's Mom climbing up on top of Dragon' Tooth. Of course we climbed up on it
We both made it up...and eventually down, even though our technique left a lot to be desired
Hendo got "bit" by the Dragon's Tooth climbing up onto it. She tore open an old airborne injury on her right elbow. Guys dig scars though, right??
"Hiking" down the AT from Dragon's Tooth to VA 624, it was a challenging but fun section. Whoever said Virginia was flat and fast was lying!!
Climbing down steel rungs in the rock face on the AT.
A warning sign at the bottom of the trail for dayhikers headed up to Dragon's Tooth. There wasn't any warning sign for we thru-hikers on the topside.
Day 134, Sun 27 Jul-zero
Day 135, Mon 28 jul - zero
Day 136, Tues 29 Jul- zero
Day 137, Wed 30 jul, 708.6 miles
Start VA 624
End Campbell Shelter
Hendo and Hendo's Mom on the iconic McAfee Knob!!
Close-up of us on McAfee Knob
Representing for Jolly Rovers Trail Crew on Mcafee Knob
After hiking up to McAfee Knob, Hendo despises the Roanoke AT Club even more. The trail to McAfee is a "four lane interstate". Obviously all trail maintenance efforts are put into this 3.7 mile stretch ONLY. As soon as you head over the mountain on north of McAfee it is obvious one is "on the other side of the tracks" or mountain. And " the other side" isn't as worthy of trail maintenance as the ritzy dayhikers. We are just disappointed and frustrated by the extreme difference in trail conditions between the dayhiker sections and the thru-hiker sections.
Day 138, Thur 31 Jul, 714.6 miles
Start Campbell Shelter
End Lambert Meadow Shelter
Today we hiked over Tinker Cliffs, far more beautiful than McAfee Knob, but obviously not patronized by day-hikers as the trail up was without switchbacks, washed out and had lots of downed trees and limbs across it.
A cool tree growing around a boulder.
A hornets nest in the cool tree growing around the boulder. We quickly and quietly hiked on after we saw it.
View from Tinker Cliffs looking back at McAfee Knob on right
Hendo relaxing on Tinker Cliffs
Hendo's Mom and Hendo on Tinker Cliffs
Hendo hiking along the trail on top of Tinker Cliffs
Mom hiking down along side Tinker Cliffs
Day 139, Fri 1 Aug, 724.0 miles
Start Lambert Meadow Shelter
End Daleville, VA
Today we headed into Daleville, VA to resupply, shower, do laundry, and buy mom some new shoes. She has worn out her shoes with 624 miles on them. The trail into town was like the rest has been, rocky and poorly maintained.
This section needs some help from the Jolly Rovers Trail Crew. Notice the upside down bandana, a sign of distress.
Day 140-141, Sat 2 Aug-Sun 3 Aug
-zero daleville, laundry