Monday, March 7, 2011

Sidelined: A Shortened Hike on the Appalachian Trail

The original plan was to hike 13.5 miles of the Appalachian Trail from Gravel Springs Gap in the North District of Shenandoah National Park to Highway 522.  That would take us right through the area where the Smith Run Fire burned a few weeks ago and we could check out the damage.  The weather forecast on Saturday wasn't great, but it was supposed to be dry until the evening, which was much better than the forecast for Sunday, so we figured we'd give it a shot.

Five of us arrived at the park gate to find a truck in front of us chatting with the ranger.  Then the occupants of the truck took the ranger's picture.  Twice.  We figured, "well, whatever floats their boat," showed our pass and continued to the trailhead.  By the time we got to the trailhead, we were up in the clouds and the temperature was about 15 degrees below what it was in Front Royal.  The climb up to Mt. Marshall wasn't too bad.  We stopped briefly at what would have been a nice overlook if we hadn't been in a cloud.  The clouds and fog actually make for an interesting hike.  It is just a completely different feeling than hiking when it is clear.

Unfortunately, the mist also made the rocks wet.  I slipped off of one of them and turned my ankle rather badly.  After about ten minutes, I decided to try to continue, but it was clear that our hike was over.  SSW Spouse went back for the car with one friend and the rest of us continued to Skyline Drive, about a quarter mile further along.  Since we were just two miles in, we didn't have to wait very long to be picked up.  While we were waiting, it started sleeting occasionally, which added to the charm of the situation.  It did reinforce the usefulness of carrying extra clothes this time of year.  Once you stop moving, it gets cold quickly. 

Hopefully, I'll be back out there in a week or two.

Pictures (click to enlarge):

The Appalachian Trail socked in.

Bootshot into a cloud.

Waiting to be picked up on Skyline Drive.

1 comment:

  1. Hang in there SSW; we were also in the clouds on Saturday just a few miles north of you. The AT in MD has a single instance of the "AT" logo painted on a big flat rock (at the Pogo Campground) so I couldn't resist one of your famous boot-shots. Please forgive the blatant copyright violation.