WEEK # 10
April 22 – 29
Pearisburg to Roanoke/Daleville
“Being Reenergized by Family and Friends”
4/22 – Angels Rest to stealth site after Symms Gap
4/23 – stealth site to Wind Rock campsite
4/24 – Wind Rock to Sinking Creek/US 42 (Super Dave)
4/25 – Sinking Creek/US 42 (Super Dave) to Nidday shelter
4/26 – Nidday shelter to Newport Road (Mike Hastings)
4/27 – Newport Road to Catawba Road (Hotel Roanoke)
4/28 – Catawba Road to Andy Layne Trail (Hotel Roanoke)
4/29 – Andy Layne Trail to Daleville (Super 8)
After a beautiful, warm zero day in Pearisburg I headed out on a Sunday morning with a real feeling that I was getting closer to home. This would be
a week highlighted by visits with family and friends. After 700 miles and over 60 days on the trail, the familiarity of the terrain and the visits by family
and friends provided an energy boost I did not really know I needed.
Sunday was quiet along the trail. I did run into law enforcement and learned I was getting ready to hike through the area where the Mountain Valley
Pipeline is to be constructed very soon. Apparently protestors were still in the area trying to prevent the project. It did not affect the hike (which was
highlighted by the beautiful Rice Field and good views from there) although towards the end of the day around Symms Gap (where I had intended to
camp) I saw protestors on the fringe of the Trail and some ATMs patrolling the area. I went on a little further and tented with some section hikers and
Monday was mostly ridge walking on a grey day. My destination was Wind Rock. Towards mid-afternoon I tired of the rocky, poorly routed trail but could not beat the rain, which got steady an hour before setting up my tent and rushing all my gear inside. It rained hard and was windy, but my tent kept me dry. Rain had been forecasted 100% so I had cooked my dinner midday at a shelter and had my cold lunch in my tent, in the rain. I saw only Legs and some section hikers during the day. No one tented with/near me that night.
Tuesday morning and the rain and wind continued. Fortunately I had a meet-up planned with Super Dave and a meal/evening off the Trail. (I could dry my tent.). I ran into Packmule and Finash at xxx shelter where I stopped to cook an early lunch (having skipped breakfast and having an extra Trailtopia meal because dinner would be in town) and they were still getting ready to leave at 11:00 am (having slept there the night before). A very wet Jello stopped in the shelter and decided to spend the rest of the day there due to the weather.
I eventually caught up to Packmule and Finash, where Packmule struggled on a long uphill to Rocky Gap. Knowing Super Dave would be there with grilled dogs and cold drinks I stayed with Packmule until the magic appeared. Dave piled us into his car because of the bitter cold and wind. The rain had subsided. After three hot dogs and two drinks Packmule and Finash decided to go to town with Super Dave and me – Dave invited them to dinner. After cleaning up and drying out at the Microtel Super Day brought us to his Tuesday supper club (a twenty year tradition) at the home of Chris/Susan Tuck. We had wonderful meal and fellowship.
Wednesday meant back on the trail at Rocky Gap and the final 2/3 of a three-mile climb. After the climb I ran into and hiked with Sleeves for
awhile. After a pleasant trail down to Laurel Creek shelter I stopped for lunch and was joined shortly thereafter by Shortcutz, Stretch and Armor
(Netherlands) as well as Packmule and Finash. Shortcutz had listen to the RTK podcasts and wanted a photo with the “celebrity” (i.e., me). We had a
fun lunch, including helping Packmule and Finash reduce the oversupply they had done in town the night before. I had another planned visitor and a
night off the trail, but before I could enjoy that opportunity I had to climb Sinking Creek Mountain and survive its treacherous ridge crest.
After a photo opportunity at the Keffer Oak with Sink & Shivers, I made a tough climb up Sinking Creek Mountain, after which we enjoyed a
remarkably flat ridge walk. This was interrupted by a seemingly unending stretch of large, typically angled, rocks that made up a ridge line atop the
mountain where footing was precarious. I slipped once. I have no idea how anyone could navigate this section in rain or worse. It reminded me of the
Firescald ridge after the long climb up Camp Creek Bald after leaving Hemlock Hollow hostel. Yet, Firescald offered an alternative – bad weather –
blue-blazed trail. I thought Sinking Creek Mountain – almost two miles of ridge crest – was more difficult and dangerous. It didn’t help that it came at
the end of a long day. Frustrated and tired I was glad to make my way finally through these rocks and descend to Niday shelter, which was a great
shelter site and where I visited with many friends. Someone asked around the picnic table – who fell on the rocks above? Every hand went up.
The next morning, Mike Hastings (my friend/business partner/former law partner) met me just north of the shelter and hiked the day with me – and what a day it was. Perfect weather, good conversation, some tough climbs, beautiful footpaths and some “iconic” AT points of interest including the Audie Murphy Memorial, Dragon’s Tooth, and a visit to the Homeplace. Dragon’s Tooth is essentially a rock monolith, but it’s part of a difficult ridge
walk not too different from the prior day. However, Dragon’s Tooth involves a treacherous rock climb while descending! AND, every time you thought you
had finished the rock scrambles, there were more most of the way down the mountain. Again, not as much as the prior day, a little frustrating, especially, like the prior day, when these obstacles come at the end of a 16 or 18 mile day. The Homeplace is a family style, all-you-can-eat, restaurant that is a favorite of hikers. Mike, his wife and I enjoyed dinner there where we saw almost 20 of my fellow hikers.
The rest of this week was special time with Cheryl, the Herns and the Crosbys coming to Roanoke to hike and visit. We had a great dinner at the
Hotel Roanoke, a perfect group hike on a perfect spring morning to McAfee’s Knob (with half the group doing an additional 10 miles to also
take in Tinker Cliffs). On Sunday Cheryl dropped me off at the side trail (Andy Layne Trail) that we used to complete the Tinkers Cliff hike. (I had to climb three miles to get back on the AT at Scorched Earth Gap. We had met a ridge runner who explained the origin of the gap’s name – – It seems that whoever designed the side trail connecting with the AT and providing day access to Tinkers Cliffs brought his wife up the new trail to show off the work. Apparently
when she finally reached the end of the long climb, she let off her opinion of the footpath with a seemingly unceasing string of expletives, which
“scorched the earth.”
After returning to the AT, I had a pleasant hike on a cool, but beautiful day, which was highlighted by another rocky, ridge walk, but one that was
interesting and fun with many excellent views. The day and week 10 concluded with a substantial descent into the Interstate exit town of
Daleville, where I stayed at the Super 8 with some hiker friends and enjoyed dinner with Sleeves.
Last modified: May 9, 2018