AT – VA South River Picnic Area to Big Meadows

Shenandoah National Park seemed a reasonable choice for leading a Trail Dames backpack.  Fool’s Weekend was so apropo for this event!  We had some new backpackers along and this route tested the limits of some.  However, WHAT FUN!!!!  Who better to test limits with but Trail Dames!

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On our way! White blaze of the Appalachian Trail.

Clouds moved in and out all day.  One moment we would be basking in the warmth of the sun and the next pulling on an extra layer to guard against the gray sky and stiff chilly breeze.  We hiked about six miles on day 1, and that was quite enough for some of our group.

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BoobOnARock skipping down the mountain 🙂

We all set up our tents around Bearfence Hut, then gathered around the firepit to eat dinner.  AND OF COURSE, there was a fire! Kathleen & Overkill did a fantastic job getting a fire started with wet wood.  Nice! Smoky at first, but worth it. 🙂

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Trail Dames leaving Bearfence Hut – Morning of Day 2

As I sat in my tent, snuggled into my bag for the night, I realized I was exhausted.  Leading a day hike is one thing, but taking responsibility for a group of women on a backpack, is leveling up in a huge way.  Did I pass? I think so.  Could I have been more supportive? Probably.

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A welcome break at Hazeltop summit

So I sat there and thought about things that had happened during the day and found myself writing a silly little poem…which I will now share here…remember I am a math instructor not a poet.  🙂 🙂 🙂

Wind blowing

Fire crackling

Where did the miles go?

Water boiling

Teeth chattering

Listening to everyone’s woes.

Snap of a cracker

Crack of a twig

Make the tea

Take a swig

Feeling the warmth of my insides grow.

Hike On!

AT – VA Gravel Springs Gap to Compton Gap

Did you opt outside for Black Friday?  I headed down to Shenandoah National Park to complete a section of AT with my friend Lola and her daughter.

Slipping out of my house sans Sidekick Pauli always takes a bit of logistical brilliance…so boots and pack were stowed in the car the night before.  I absolutely avoided looking directly at her as I grabbed a grocery bag of food and headed out the door!  No worries for the dog…she will go out with me on Saturday somewhere. 🙂

The ranger at the north entrance reminded me the gate would close at 5 pm.  No problem, I will be long gone by then! You know unless tragedy occurs, which it won’t, but if it does, hmmm…nope, no tragedy today, period.  I made my sacrifice to the Trail Gods on Wednesday.

What timing!  I pulled into Compton Gap glancing into my rearview…and there was Lola right behind.  Excellent!  And it was now 50 degrees out.  Yay! Weather cooperating. We left my car at Compton Gap, then drove down to our starting point at Gravel Springs Gap in Lola’s minivan.

Now the passenger, I took the opportunity to scan the woods for wildlife (okay, bears) without having to watch the road.  I was pretty happy searching the woods until Lola and daughter saw a bobcat right off the road and I missed it! Ergh! The bobcat disappeared before I could see it.  Life lesson here…don’t go looking so far beyond that you miss what is right in front of you!

Took about 10-15 minutes to reach Gravel Springs Gap and I think the weather had chilled a bit.  However, I warmed up quickly as I headed up South Marshall Mountain, but not enough to shed a layer just yet.  I was just starting to look for a place to break when a great overlook presented itself.  Just off the trail, no extra effort required, thankfully!

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BoobOnARock atop South Marshall Mountain feelin’ like a boss! 😀

Next up…North Marshall Mountain.  The climb up went quickly and again, we were rewarded with an amazing view back to South Marshall.  I love it when I can look back at where I have hiked as it is such a feeling of accomplishment!

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Looking back at South Marshall Mountain from the overlook on North Marshall. Better than getting a ribbon!

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Coming down North Marshall

The first two climbs of the day had not been as difficult as I had anticipated.  The mist hovered and dipped down as we crossed over both South and North Marshall.  The scent of late fall hung in the air and recent wind storms had littered the path with deep piles of leaves. *crunch, crunch, crunch*  I felt like a kid again kicking in the leaves that came up past the top of my boots. I was brought sharply back to the present when I slipped a little on a rock beneath the leaves!  The humility…let me NOT be the sacrifice to the Trail Gods today, thanks. 🙂  —the gate closes at 5 pm— haha!

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Descending to Jenkins Gap. When the kid is caught just staring up into the sky, you know the hike is a win. I found myself doing the same many times. Beautiful day!

Reaching Jenkins Gap, it was time for the final climb up to Compton’s Peak , whew!  I stopped a few times to catch my breath!  Do mountains ever really get easier?  I am familiar with this stretch of AT though.  Once we passed the campsite on the left, I knew we were almost to the cut off to the view.  This is a view you have to work for…and even though the trail post says 0.2 miles, it feels like more.  Not a difficult walk down, just rocky, and when you are at the end of your hike, well…tempting to just pass it altogether.  But don’t, worth the extra walk!

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This pic I took of Lola on Compton Peak encapsulates the feeling of the entire hike.

We had the whole park to ourselves for most of the hike, or so it seemed.  Descending to my car at Compton Gap, we now shared the trail with many others who had decided to take a hike on Black Friday.  Welcome, and good-bye! Hike On!

AT – VA Skyland to Elkwallow Wayside

I led this as a backpack for Trail Dames.  I promoted it with “great views”…then blow the foghorn, folks! Three of us headed down the trail.  We couldn’t see the trees fifty feet in front of us, let alone the expansive views from Stony Man cliffs, Pinnacle or Mary’s Rock!

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Trail Dames of Maryland members Lola & Vickie atop Stony Man Cliffs

Didn’t matter, Shenandoah is beautiful in any type of cloak she decides to wear.  The foggy woods were magical.  Mist floated through the upper branches of towering trees, then settled into the forest, softening hard edges and damping sounds.  So very quiet on the trail as we stepped carefully to not slip on rocks glistening with moisture.

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The Appalachian Trail in Shenandoah National Park

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The Appalachian Trail between Pinnacle & Mary’s Rock in Shenandoah National Park

This is the first backpack I have led and was initially hesitant to put it on the MeetUp site. Only experienced backpackers for this one.  In the future, I will think about leading a beginner backpack.  But this one…no.

It was not an easy first day.  Ten and a half miles, a few good climbs, then the long down from Mary’s Rock.  I was ecstatic to walk into camp at Pass Mountain! The tent went up and all my gear set up for a comfy, warm sleep.  Afterwards, I made a hot dinner and capped off with hot chocolate.  Yes, that hit the spot!

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Coming down from Mary’s Rock

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Pass Mountain Hut

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My Big Agnus the morning after…a little soggy!

It was getting dark by the time I finished.  Headlamp on, I went to hang my Ursack on the bear pole.  What a pain in the butt…I should have just walked out into the woods and tied it to a tree like usual.  But I wanted to follow all of SNP’s back country camping rules, especially since warnings about the bears were on several trees as we hiked in.  So in the dark, with my bag swaying precariously at the top of the rod, I tried to hook the loop to the top of the bear pole.  Good Lord, that rod is unwieldy!  Sway to the right, sway to the left, felt like I was doing the hokey pokey as I turned myself around! Hahahahaaa!  Finally, it looped…sweeet!  Into my tent, my fleece pants, my cozy shirt, and sleeping cap.  The ibuprofen/Benadryl mix was doing its thing so I soon nodded off contentedly as the pit patter of misty drops fell onto my tent.

dsc00977The weather was supposedly going to clear the next day.  However, we got up in the fog, left Pass Mountain Hut in the fog, and for the remainder of our hike…we were in the fog! The second we were in shouting distance of Elkwallow…yep, it cleared!  Enjoyed beautiful views on the way out of Shenandoah.

Here’s to wet tents, a dry pair of socks, and big smiles! Hike on!

 

AT – VA Ashby Gap to Manassas Gap

Connecting dots.  I started this section last year around the same time, then fell trying to dodge a cicada killer bee.  Cracked my knee, hobbled back to my car, and promised myself I would be back!  Luckily, this time around I had some hiking pals with me, so no out and back silliness!

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Look at the size of this tree that came down! Wow!

We met at the 725 trail head at Manassas Gap, then shuttled back to Ashby Gap to begin our trek.  After crossing Route 50, we came face to face with a young deer.  Go back in the woods, Bambi! Route 50 is a split highway with high speed traffic…no place for a deer!

The first mile or so, after meeting up with Bambi, was climbing.  Worth it! We came out in the high meadows of Sky Meadows State Park which were in full bloom.  Lovely!

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The High Meadow

We cruised along through Sky Meadows, taking our first sit down break at the intersection of the North Ridge trail.  And then, guess what???  An older Virginia gentleman, who had come up the North Ridge trail, recited a poem for us.  Always something interesting happening along the AT.  Haha! So cool! Definitely made my day! 🙂 I inserted a link to a video of his performance. 🙂

Poem on the Appalachian Trail

This hike had two memorable pieces for me and that was one of them.  The other was the visit to Dick’s Dome shelter,  a geodesic dome.  It looked like an Icosahedron to me…yep, math girl here! I was delighted by the equilateral triangles and just being in the dome. 🙂 🙂

IF I could somehow manage to spend a sabbatical researching mathematics along the AT…well, I’d be all set! Hike on!

 

May 29 Last Full Day Shenandoah Weekend!

Today I revisited a trail I had not hiked in 20 years.  The last time I was on this climb to Hawksbill, I had baby Logan on my hip.  He was about 2 years old and walking like a fiend! So I would put him down to walk for awhile, then carry him for awhile when those little chubby legs got tired.  🙂

I started from the upper Hawksbill parking lot, then after visiting the view at the top, looped down to lower Hawksbill, around on the AT, then up again on the Salamander trail.  Nice loop!  And Sidekick Pauli made three summits this weekend!!  Mary’s Rock, Loft Mountain, and Hawksbill – good job, doggie!

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“I’m a freakin’ mountain goat.” ~Sidekick Pauli

Coming around on the AT I ran into “JustSue” setting up a table of Trail Magic for the thru-hikers at Hawksbill Gap.  Trail Magic in the form of ham sandwiches, Little Debbie’s  and other delights.  I didn’t have anywhere to be very fast, so I stopped and chatted with “JustSue”.   She had her grandson helping her but he had run off down the trail somewhere so at the moment it truly was just Sue!  Sidekick Pauli also enjoyed meeting JustSue, but was ready to move after a bit, so we said our goodbyes and sidled on down the trail.  I left her in good spirits and was able to pass the joy to thru-hikers coming down the trail.  “TRAIL MAGIC AHEAD!!!”

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“JustSue” and her Trail Magic!

I love this section of the AT.  The rocks are beautifully adorned with fern, succulents, and other wildflowers.  The talus slopes (think rock slides) made me a little nervous with Pauli along and no hiking poles.  Thought I would have trouble negotiating through, but nope! We got through like champs, we did!

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Arriving at the intersection of the Salamander trail, a great rock awaited us providing a lovely spot for lunch.  With the added benefit of being able to lighten the load in the pack before climbing up to Hawksbill again! 🙂   Ever the opportunist.

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Salamander Trail to the left, AT to the right, Lunch!

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Salamander Trail…going up!

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Holy cow!!! I found the Keebler’s Elf House! I asked for cookies, but those darn elves didn’t answer my knock on the door. 😦

 

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One more look at the summit of Hawksbill, then back to the car we go!

We timed the route around and back to the car just right. Plop…plop…plop, ping, plop, ping, plop, ppppppppplopitypingpingplopplopplop…deluge!  Sidekick Pauli is amazing at getting me back to the car before it rains! We were high and dry!  Not so for many other sorry folks I saw dragging themselves back to cars parked too far away for comfort.  I could feel their shivers as I drove back to the campsite.

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Another Momma, not the Dog Hater, but not a dog lover either.  Escorted us kindly, but firmly, out of Big Meadows that morning!

After the rain and back at the campsite, guess who comes strolling with determination towards our tent?  The dog hating Momma deer.  Great.  I took Pauli to the car and waited, but forgot my hot coffee on the picnic table.  “Don’t mess with my coffee, Miss Momma of the Year!”

No trouble here, I’m just visiting!  Hike on!

 

 

May 28 Day 3 of Shenandoah Weekend!

Shhh…I did something totally against the rules today…sorry, sorry, sorry, it was a total blunder on my part, but no one saw us and we left NO trace.

More on that later.  Let’s start at the beginning.  Sidekick Pauli not wanting to get up!

At home she has hours of down time to kick back and relax.  Here in the campground she was on constant alert.  Add that to 7 up and down miles yesterday in the heat…and well, no smiles this morning.

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Don’t worry, once the “Bully Biscuits” were out, ALL was good! 😉

I gave her some down time by heading south to Loft Mountain.  She crashed in the back of the car and came out a new dog once we reached Loft Wayside.  Even so, I figured an easier day of hiking wouldn’t be a bad thing.

It looked like a pretty nice hike could be had by taking the Frazier Discovery Trail up to the AT, then loop around Loft.  Straight uphill, so much for taking it easy! We found a spring of nice, cool water, which Pauli immediately claimed for the next few minutes lapping furiously.

The Frazier Discovery Trail has some pretty cool rocks along it, but I wondered what else I was to possibly discover.  Mostly wooded, I continued to slog uphill.  It was already hot and it was only 8:30 AM!

Reaching the AT, I found an awesome outcropping where we took a short break before continuing along the AT.  Short because I could feel myself getting skin cancer out there on the rocks.  Seriously.  It.Was.Hot. (and super sunny)

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Summit Smooches are a Sidekick Pauli specialty!

The loop around Loft Mountain on the AT ended at the Amphitheater.  At which point I met up with a woman I had previously passed on the trail.  She was camping at Loft and wanted to do the Loop, but she couldn’t take her dog on Frazier Discovery Trail since DOGS ARE NOT ALLOWED!!! “Oh crap!” I exclaimed, “I just came up that way!”  Now, for most people, maybe they wouldn’t care that they had just done something like TAKE THEIR DOG IN A PLACE SHE WASN’T ALLOWED…but I felt really, really, guilty! But there was no sign.  I looked when I went back down the hill, because, seriously, it bugged me.  There was a sign for “no bicycles” but nothing about no dogs.  I can say, though, that my dog was on leash AND I cleaned up after her…left NO trace!  But now that I know, well, I won’t do it again.

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Back at the campsite, the neighboring campers came over and warned me about a deer that is especially aggressive towards dogs.  Apparently, this is the deer who has been stashing her baby fawn in the campground area.  I happened upon this fawn yesterday over by the Big Meadow picnic grounds.  I got a picture with a zoom!

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Anyway, good for the deer! This place had become a cluster…and so many people had dogs off leash without any kind of voice control. ergh…

When I was a kid at camp, one of the activities we did was to close our eyes and just listen, making note of the sounds heard.  I closed my eyes…wind in the trees, families conversing, buzzing, birdsong, rangers beeping at people out on the main road, motorcycles, Pauli turning over in the grass, and MusicMan’s radio…Hike On!

 

May 27 Day 2 of Shenandoah Weekend!

Appalachian Trail Day: Pinnacle Picnic Grounds to Mary’s Rock

5:30 am, why is it that I cannot sleep in???

Put some water on to heat for tea with my little Esbit stove, then attended to Sidekick Pauli.  She refuses to eat plain kibble when we camp.  Don’t worry, I spiced it up with some doggie yum. 🙂

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Do you spoil your dog much? 

Headed out to Pinnacle Picnic Grounds to hike the section of the AT to Mary’s Rock (and back).  Full disclosure here…I didn’t want to run into any bears in the woods with Sidekick Pauli.  I didn’t know how she would react.  So part of my choosing this hike is because it is up on a ridge, and I figured the bears would be down low munching up all the green stuff they could find.

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Headed to Mary’s Rock (and back)

Even so, setting off down the trail at just after 7 am, I was verbally pointing out all the sights to Sidekick Pauli!  “Oh, look at that flower! Did you see the fog hanging in the top of that tree?” hahahaaaa  …and so on!

We didn’t run into any bears along the trail, thank goodness!  Although, after the hut, there was bear scat. That sent me, again, into Chatty Kathy mode for awhile.

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Looking north towards Mary’s Rock from the Pinnacle

This section of the AT has some beautiful views.  It also has some nice ups and downs! The day felt much warmer than it was as we rolled along the ridge towards Mary’s Rock.  However, I am marking this section as one to come back and do in the fall.  It would be absolutely stunning with the fall colors.

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Just so we are clear that this is the AT

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At Mary’s Rock

Sidekick Pauli had a delightful time meeting everyone on the trail EXCEPT stupid people with dogs.  There is a leash law for a reason people.  And don’t look at me like my dog is the problem!!!

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Sidekick Pauli at Mary’s Rock

 

Anyway, no reason to get too hot under the collar because we, well I, was already sweating buckets by the time we had hiked back to Pinnacle Picnic Grounds.  I was so hot, I literally soaked my head down before driving back to Big Meadows.  Ahhhhh refreshing!

So another micro-section of the AT completed! Hike on!

BoobOnARock & Queen V do Flip Flop Festival 2016

Walking to the Flip Flop Festival from Weverton, I was going against the traffic of several hikers that looked like they were out to do something serious. My mind wandered to something my hiking friend Google told me a few years ago (when I was hiking through Georgia).  “You oughta be here in the Spring” she told me,  “hiking south through Georgia is…interesting.”
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Here in Maryland, the thruhikers I usually see are lean, determined, and move very fast! They have 1000 miles under their belts and have settled in for the ride.  Today, as I strode quickly down the canal to meet Queen V, I passed several clean, not lean, well, okay, some were lean…but not in that “I’ve been beating the trail and the trail’s been beating me” kind of lean.  The backpacks were flashy…can I say that? I felt like I was walking through the REI website…oh yes, and I’ll take one of those…two of these…oh, and how cute is that, he is dragging his pack behind him on a wheelie thingy!  Oh, I wanted to see that guy drag the wheelie thing with his pack up Weverton. 🙂  A little sadistic, yes, I am.

“You’ve got to give a little, take a little,
and let your poor heart break a little.
That’s the story of, that’s the glory of …”  What the hell, Bette Midler’s song from Beaches?  Where did that come from?!!  Walk faster, Bette must be left behind! These hikers would deal or not.  I had to get to Harper’s Ferry…it was now 9:24 am and I was supposed to meet Queen V at 10 am.  I had my phone on airplane mode and was blissfully not getting any of her texts…

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Tramped over the railroad bridge to Harper’s Ferry at 9:50! Quick stop at the train station, then up the hill to the ATC.  It was getting hot!  By the time I met up with Queen V I was ready to shed one of my layers. Then it was time for some exploring.

First stop, of course, is to get someone to take our picture in front of the ATC.   Yeah, I have like fifteen pictures in front of the ATC…but you know…it’s my Alamo.  So there.

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We went around back to check out the vendors, and most importantly, scope out the food situation.  The food truck looked mighty promising with its sweet potato and black bean burrito (it was freakin delicious!).
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Queen V, as usual, being the diva that she is demanded requested sweetly to have her picture taken in various locals…(she is now hounding me to get this post done as quickly as possible).  I did mention that “narcissism becomes her”!  😉
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There was a workshop at 11:30 am we were going to attend.  I knew the presenter by name only here in blogland…but I am happy to say I have now met Sisu face to face and a nicer guy he could not be! 🙂  He did a great presentation and it was just so neat to meet someone I had only known through comments on this blog.  Here’s to meeting up again sometime, Sisu! 🙂 🙂
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Oh, and by the way, the weather for this event was just the best!  However, that did not stop me from hitching a ride back to my car (Thanks Queen V!).  Yeah, after that sweet potato & black bean burrito…and a creamsicle…I kinda lost my mojo for huffing it back down the canal to my car.
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So good luck flip floppers! and all thruhikers!  And even if Maine eludes you, the adventure of the dream did not! Hike on! 🙂

Not Quite Spring, Not Quite Winter! A Stroll in Shenandoah NP

Cruising along Skyline Drive it occurred to me that maybe this hike wasn’t going to be the hike I had conjured up in my mind yesterday.  At that time, I sat on the edge of my bed, maps spread out around me and Sidekick Pauli sprawled  beside me catching rays from the afternoon sun.

Now I found myself facing mountains that still showed vestiges of winter.  I  pulled over no less than three times along the drive just to look, gaze in wonderment, lost in the beauty of Shenandoah.  I decided we would hike where the snow still lingered.

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I want to go there! Right there, on top of that snowy mountain!

I had been headed to Elkwallow Wayside, but stopped short when I got to Overall Run Falls trail head.  Yes!  We ARE STOPPING RIGHT HERE!!!  The trees were all sporting a fresh layer of rime and the trail was perfect with about an inch and a half of dry snow.  Oh, it was gorgeous! Like *gasp* gorgeous!

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Not the best pic…but the only good pic of the rime on the trees!

I took a look at the map and started down the AT to Elkwallow, I would decide whether to backtrack or loop once I got there.  Sidekick Pauli was hiking with me today and is still sporting a pretty good scar down her neck…so it just depended on how she was doing when we got to Elkwallow.

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Oh boy! Into the woods!

The AT to Elkwallow Wayside is a fairly moderate hike with a view that was nice!  Sidekick Pauli scrambled up the rocks and stared into the distance with satisfaction.  Oh, she was definitely happy to be back on the trail! This was our only overlook, although, there were nice forest views along the way.  We passed over Skyline Drive on the AT, then headed slightly up before passing the PATC Range View cabin and descending to Elkwallow Wayside.

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At Elkwallow, we took a detour down to the picnic area…for a pit stop.  While I was, um, otherwise engaged a family had driven up to also use the bathroom. Apparently, this was the only bathroom open in the area.  When Sidekick Pauli and I exited the bathroom they just lost it.  They were gabbing away in a language not understood by me.  They were simply in fits!!  I didn’t get it, what the heck, haven’t they seen something like this before???  I heard their laughter and felt their pointing until we disappeared into the woods.  Haha! Glad I could add something to their Shenandoah memory!! 😀

Sidekick Pauli was loving it!  I decided to loop down to Matthews Arm campground, then climb back up to the AT via the Traces & Tuscarora Overall Run Trails.  The weather had warmed a bit and there was no snow on the Elkwallow Trail down to the campground.  A nice picnic on a damp log awaited us!  Sidekick Pauli gobbled down several of Queen V’s home made doggie treats!!  I made do with a PB&J.  🙂

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I didn’t make it … but I didn’t destroy it either. I enjoyed the oddity of it as I made my way down the Elkwallow Trail.

The birds were rocking out while we sat there in the middle of the otherwise quiet woods.  Lovely to listen to but my butt was getting wet…time to move!

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YAY! we don’t have to rock hop across the creek. 🙂 I think Sidekick Pauli is disappointed…

Soon after crossing the bridge we reached Matthews Arm campground.  We found the Traces Trail after crossing the parking lot.  This trail starts to climb, and the climb goes on, and on.  Maybe it was because I left this piece of trail for last…but man, oh man,  that climb!  Between 800 and 1000 feet!  To say I was happy to reach the snow line would be an understatement! Whew!!

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Ahhh, yes! Finally! Jees…why did that hill feel so long? Oh, 800 feet of slippy, slippy…got it!

I reached the car and began getting ready for the drive home.  Took off the layers, traded out the hiking boots for sandals, did a few not helpful stretches, grabbed the cheezits…

While storing my bag, boots, and clothes in the back of the car, a ranger pulled up.  “Hey, just wanted to let you know there is some weather coming in overnight so we are going to be closing Skyline Drive.”

No problem, ranger! We are ready to go!  Hike on!

AT-PA Rt. 501 to Swatara Gap Rt. 72

The last section of Pennsylvania!!! Woot!

It wasn’t clear whether I was going to be able to get this state done before the end of the year.  I was determined, however, and put an all out call to any of my Facebook friends who might want to do this last 12 miles with me…and one of them said YES!!!!

My friend, Lola, and I opted outside on Black Friday!  I had to leave pretty early from Frederick, Maryland to get to Swatara Gap by 8:15 am.  I pulled up beside the iron bridge with time to spare…only to notice that there are new signs declaring cars will be towed.  Well, this is new to me.  The last time I was here it was okay to park on the side of Rt. 72…NO MORE!  So when Lola cruised in behind me a few minutes later we backtracked, going around to the back of the creek, on the old State Road, in order to park in the “real” parking lot.  Just an fyi folks…no parking on Rt. 72 anymore! (maybe it was always illegal…but lots of people did it, including me, and never got a ticket or anything)

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Ready to go! Last section of PA underway!

With one car properly parked, we headed to 501 to begin the last section of PA for me!!! This day was meant to be.  Warm temps, blue skies, …Black Friday?  Felt like an early spring day!

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We were greeted with a fantastic view just south of 501.  After that it was pretty decent hiking (with the understanding that it is Pennsylvania and there are the regular amount of rocks along the way).

A nice sunny spot was waiting for me at the William Penn Shelter.  I took the opportunity to soak up the sun while chomping on a crisp apple…oh the delights of fall.  “What the heck?…Oh, my phone.”  It was in my right pocket and digging into my hip in a way that was none too comfortable, so I rolled to my left hip and yanked it out.  Apparently, my chapstick felt the need to also exit my pocket in a leap for freedom and promptly fell through a crack in the floor of the shelter to the ground below.   The one item I hated to lose.  *sniff*  “Bye-bye chapstick…so sad you are gone.” 😦

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Moving on, the trail resumed the regular rocky until after the old powerline view.   For about a quarter mile there are some bigger rocks which required a bit of rock hopping.  “Come on rocks, dance with me!” I muttered under my breath as I tipped forward, then backwards, on one of the looser specimens.  At this point, I looked to my left and right.  I stopped, calling back to Lola, who was doing a bit of dancing of her own.  “Look at that” I exclaimed, pointing to the woods beside the trail.  “Do you see ANY rocks over there???”  It was a rhetorical question, as there were NO rocks to be seen anywhere EXCEPT where we were walking…teetering…whatever. Oh, Pennsylvania, you amuse me…

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1000 miles going southbound!

It seems my feet have gotten soft since my backpack in PA this summer.  As we approached the steep downhill into Swatara Gap, they were quite vocal in their disapproval of this 12 miles!  When I stepped onto the road, after following the trail underneath I-81, it felt so good! Level ground, no rocks!

Whelp! PA section is complete!

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Yessss!!!! FINALLY FINISHED PENNSYLVANIA!

It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, and there are some sections I would love to do again!  I loved this state most for the people who hiked it with me.  Dirigo, Python, Google, CanDo, Queen V, Lola and many other women I met through Trail Dames.  Also, my brother, Albie, who hiked a portion of the trail between Pine Grove Furnace and Caledonia SP with me. He showed me that I could do a 15 mile day! Brothers are awesome!! 🙂 🙂

On to Virginia and softer trails! Hike On! 🙂