Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Almost Successful Ascent to the AT

Oops, this blog seemed to fall by the wayside and never got published.  Hope everyone is off to a great start in the new year.  We have been on hiking hiatus for a short while.  While trying to amuse ourselves with Sprocket, I (Ann) tripped and sprained my ankle.  Needless to say, I was staying off of my foot and am going a little stir crazy and am anxious to get out.

Hike Date:  July 28, 2011

What happens to a couple of hikers who try to hike a portion of the AT (that's Appalachian Trail for those of you not in-the-know)?  Read on and find out!

Francis and I have been dying to get onto the AT for some time now.  We always talk about it and then end up going somewhere else.  While on a determined mission to log data for the North American Field Herp Forum, Francis was choosing areas that did not have a lot of data.  Faquier County, Virginia had absolutely no data logged.  What a perfect place to go, spend some time herping and hiking the AT.

So we leave the house at somewhere between 8:30 and 9am.  We planned on a two hour drive and planned on leaving earlier (don't we always?).  It took us over two hours to get there driving mostly back roads after getting off of Route 66.  This tiny little park doesn't scream at you from the road.  It is sandwiched between a hill and a cow pasture.  There is a small pond stocked with trout; the few that were left this late in the season were belly up, gasping for air in the anoxic water.

The map at the trailhead leaves a lot to be desired with little in the way of defined trails, distances or landmarks.  There are no trail maps to take with you so get a good look at the one posted before you start.

Once we got goinging, we hiked around the pond and got started on the trail.  Therre was no gradual incline, it was immediately steep.  Keep in mind this is super hot day!  We hadn't gotten Sprocket yet, but unless your dog is super fit, I wouldn't recommend taking them.

There was one main trail and some offshoots that were either completely overgrown and non navigable.  We weren't even sure if we were on the right trail to get to the AT.

We kept going up and up with no indication of how far ahead the AT was.  I'd say we hiked for an hour to an hour and a half and I had had enough.  I wasn't exactly happy about crapping out and I was really peeved that we hadn't gotten to the AT.  We got back down to the pond probably an hour later feeling disappointed.  So to feel better, we flipped some longs and rocks and found some reptiles.

After getting home and taking a long nap and a shower we were reviewing our hike and we realized that we were probably pretty dang close to the AT itself which just made me more determined to get back out there and try again...maybe somewhere else though....and closer to home.

Some recommendations:  Find an access point that is well used.  This may make for a crowded hike on a weekend so plan a weekday hike.  Don't go on an especially hot day, that will just make for a miserable time.  Take plenty of water - I LOVE LOVE LOVE my Camelbak.  You should totally get one before hiking season gets underway.  And bring food.  You will get hungry and you'll be in the middle of nowhere.

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