Section 15 (AT in a Day)

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McAfee Knob.jpg

Jonathon den Hartog at Mcafee Knob

Rt.43/Pkwy Dr. in Buchanan, VA to Shumate Bridge in Pearisburg, VA - 113.9 miles

Section Chief: Ryan Nightingale '13

Va.43/Bearwallow Gap to Black Horse Gap/Blue Ridge Parkway mile 97.7-8.1 miles

Mountain Bikers

Black Horse Gap/Blue Ridge Parkway mile 97.7 to US 220-13.6 miles

Hikers: Mayda Nathan ’08, Ruth Hupart ‘08

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Highlights:

- Red efts: We came across these little jewel-like beasties frequently in the first several miles of our hike. The fallen red dogwood leaves underfoot were unnervingly similar in hue to the efts, putting us on edge as we walked. As far as we know, no newts were harmed in the hiking of this section.

- Fall colors: New England unfairly takes most of the credit for fall color. As we discovered, the Blue Ridge Mountains put on a mean display of autumn foliage, too. Glimpses through the trees at the colorful hills beyond would set us ooh-ing and ah-ing.

- Appalachian lexicon: Hollows. Gaps. Knobs. We love the colorful Appalachian geographical terms. Sometimes, the words are more alluring than the terrain. Anticipating Fullhardt Knob, we expected a rocky, rounded outcrop, and got instead a modest tree-covered hill.

- Inquisitive deer: Near the end of our hike, we rounded a bend and came face to face with a just-as-surprised doe standing in the middle of the trail. Considering this was Virginia, we expected her to high-tail it into the woods. Instead she stood staring at us, going through a series of hilariously theatrical reactions, craning her neck and ogling us: “Whoa, is that a…? Human? What the…? Another one?!”. If she had eyebrows, they would have raised higher and higher in astonishment. Either she was naïve or very dumb. Finally, her curiosity satisfied, she sassily flipped up her tail and minced into the trees.

- Pastoral scenery: The Blue Ridge Mountains may not have the rugged glamour of the White Mountains, but they are beautiful in their own way. Particularly in the quaint way in which towns and farms snuggle right up to the hills. Once we emerged from the Jefferson National Forest, we enjoyed climbing hand-made ladders over wire fences, crossing shady brooks running through pastures, and taking in the views of rural Virginia in autumn.

US 220 to McAfee Knob-16.1 miles

Hikers: Sean Mann '05 and Adam Tapley '03

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A great section of hiking, with some wonderful views and cliff bands. We drove with Mayda Nathan '08 and Ruth Hupart '08 the four hours from DC, dropped them off in the rain at their trailhead on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  The rain stopped by the time we reached our own trailhead and we set off from the car in pleasantly overcast hiking weather.

Few people were out in the long middle section of our trail, far from the road.  Cliff bands of metamorphosed sandstone added variety, views, exploring and bouldering opportunities all the way to McAfee Knob.  Great to have an excuse to head out to a part of the trail I would never have gotten to do otherwise.  Beautiful autumn day too!

Happy Birthday DOC!

Sean

McAfee Knob to Rt. 624- 9.6 miles

Hikers: Jonathan den Hartog and Zackary Whitlow

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VA 624 to McAfee Knob (Southern VA)

My buddy Zackary Whitlow and I hit the road early hoping to beat the rain and make it back home before dark. Kicking things off at the trailhead we bumped into Brian Meadowcroft of Virginia Tech, a fellow AT-In-a-Day'er who was covering a section of the trail just south of our route. After wishing him luck we parted ways, heading north towards McAfee. A light rain and several cattle kept us company for the first few miles and we then made our way up Gravelly Ridge. The path followed a steep ridge for a few miles affording excellent views along the way. Great trail! We continued north, winding our way up to McAfee Knob where we stopped to share a lunch with other hikers at the peak. You could see for miles at the top, with Roanoke and the Blue Ridge on one side and Jefferson National Forest and West Virginia on the other. It was an outstanding view and a great way to cap off the trip

Thanks to the club organizers for putting this event together. No matter where I go for an outdoor excursion it always makes me think about my years in New Hampshire and adventures I shared with others in the club. I suppose it all began on my freshman DOC trip, where I learned how much fun it can be to take a walk in the woods!

Jonathan den Hartog D03, Th05

Va.624 to Trout Creek Road-8 miles

Hiker: Brian Meadowcroft

Trout Creek Road to Craig Creek Rd. -7 miles

Hiker: Gordie Ziegler

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Hello, I hiked the section mentioned today. Great day, the weather held out and I had a mix of clouds with some sun and YAY, no rain.

I was assisted by my trail buddy, my 13 year old. Although she could not manage the whole 7.6 miles due to an injured foot, she did join me for part of the hike. I chose to use the Audie Murphy monument on Brush Mtn as the place for the Logo to be photographed. Audie Murphy was the most decorated WWII vet with 24 decorations. He was a Texan, but lost his life in a plane crash on Brush Mtn in 1971.

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Thank you for organizing the event!

Gordie Zeigler "tickmagnet" Roanoke VA

Craig Creek Rd. to Va.42-12.3 miles

Hiker: Chris Rose

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There were some concerns in the morning as I met my friend Amy to set off for the 621 parking lot where we would leave her car for the shuttle. The rain, which had been off and on overnight, began to come down harder and the sky still looked ominous. By the time we dropped her car off though and made it to the pull off at VA 42 the rain had stopped and it appeared it would be a great day for hiking, not too warm, not too cold with occasional bursts of sunshine. While getting ready to leave we met a Dartmouth graduate from the class of 68 who was going to be hiking the next adjacent segment to the south.

The first part of the trip took you through an open field and across some ladders that are common in this part of Virginia where the AT crosses private land. After crossing a final open area, we began the ascent up Sinking Creek Mountain (which occupied most of the first few miles) to the top of the ridge where the hike would continue for a majority of the trip before dropping back down the opposite side leading to VA 621.

Although the fall had been fairly wet so far, the leaves, which appeared muted when you saw them across an entire hillside or landscape, were vibrant as we walked past individual trees, most of which were bright yellow. Since most of the leaves were still on the trees, views of the valley were obscured and at times it seemed like we were hiking through a tunnel.

As mentioned before, it was a good day for hiking but the biggest surprises came while shuttling back to the car. About 2 miles from the VA 621 parking lot, we saw a black bear running through an open field and heading up VA 42 not too far out of New Castle, Va. we spotted a bald eagle which left it's perch, swooped low across the road then flew off over the valley.

Chris Rose

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Va.42 to Va.601/Rocky Gap-4.4 miles

Hiker: David Ziegler

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My wife, Myra, John Henry and I completed our section from Rocky Gap, Virginia to Virginia Rte 42 on Saturday, October 10, 2009.  Attached is a picture of John Henry and me at the White Rocks Overlook, which provided a panoramic view of Pearisburg, Blacksburg and Christiansburg, Virginia.  The hike brought to mind the first time I took Myra on the AT in April of 1968.  We drove to the entrance road to the Ravine Lodge, hiked into the Lodge, up the Snapper Trail, and along the ridge to the main summit of Mooselauke, carrying skis, boots and lunch, including a bottle of wine.  As we sat on the AT near the summit to eat lunch, I dropped the bottle of wine, breaking it.  Despite the breakage, it was a beautiful day.  We got married a month later.  

Va.601/Rocky Gap to Va.635 15.2 miles

DOC students

Va.635 to US 460/Sentator Shumate Bridge-19.1 miles

DOC students