Outings > Overnight and Camping

AT four day (not solo this time)

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Last weekend, after the hurricane went by, GF and I headed up the the mountains to knock out another section of "the trail".  Plan was for apprx 16 miles the first day, 21 the second, 14 the third, and a short 10 to finish up on the last day.  Our hike spanned from just outside of Roanoke, VA up to Buena Vista.

The weather was as perfect as perfect can be in early July, in the Appalachian Mountains of VA.  In fact, with no rain in the forecast, the tarps were left at home  8)

On to the photos...

We had a nice "gentle" hike up our first mountain with this view as one of our rewards

Looks like some old fire damage on the trees maybe? 

There was indeed another prize besides the view, a pleasantly sweet surprise

These weren't ripe yet, but...  BLUEBERRIES!!!! 

We found that eating them by the handful was the BEST way!

small handful

bigger handful.  So yummy!

Moving along the trail, we of course went down a mountain and up another.  Atop this next one we caught a glimpse of some road on another mountain, that appeared to go into a tunnel right through the mountain.

Thought it was kinda cool, so took a photo of it...

And on we went...  We made it to our first "check point" and stopped to see it, and take a photo.  There was no sign on this one, so a photo of the journal is what I got.

Cove Mountain Shelter log.

There is no water at this shelter, so we moved on.  We found a creek near (alongside/below) the next shelter, and stopped to re-fill our water supply.  As it was warm-ish and humid, we stopped for water at pretty much every opportunity, and typically carried two to three liters of water (which we drank) between water sources.

photo of the sign from in that shelter

Now, I don't stay in shelters - but...  this one is easily the biggest and nicest I've seen yet.  It was two stories tall!
This was not to be our stopping point either, so on we went...

Some photos from along the way

I "think" these are golden chanterelles  But, "thinking" and "knowing" are two VERY different things.  When it comes to wild edibles, and especially mushrooms - I wanna KNOW.  None were harvested, and we moved on

Mmmmm....  these are edible and SO GOOD once ripe.  We collected and ate them as we found them along the trail, over the next four days.  They are wine berry raspberries

and we continued on...

saw a bunch of these and thought they looked pretty cool,

It is Basil Bee Balm, or Monarda Clinopodia in the mint family

And this

the Beautiful Canada Lilly, a native of VA

We eventually made it to our stopping point for the evening, near water and another shelter

It was a "shade" on the chilly side that first night, lol (upper forties and breezy).  In my infinite wisdom, I elected to not only NOT bring a long sleeved shirt OR jacket; but I also only brought my woobie (read that NO SLEEPING BAG)  LOL!!!  Needless to say, I had a nice and cool first night on the trail...  GF was smart and brought a sleeping bag, AND a jacket...  She was nice and warm, lol. 
We both made it through the night, and started our second day off just fine

Saw some of these speed demons that next morning while I was walking to the creek to refill my water bottles

That last one is the "long neck model" - lol.  I'd always wondered what ate the notches out of the mushrooms...  Seems snails may be the answer...

And a nice outlook a ways up the trail

Black rock outlook I think it was called.  That would be the GF

Nice splash of color beside the outlook

And here she is leading the way down a beautiful moss covered rock section of the trail

One of the many sun dappled valleys we'd pass along the way

Some more shots of the beautiful Canada Lilly

They're quite beautiful just to see along the way as you go, but when ya turn one over....


We entered the Thunder Ridge wilderness

Came across this sigh on top of the mountain

not bad... 

There's this cool "hallway" of sorts that the trail goes through

Let's put that into a little better perspective...

she's five, nine - weight: highly classified

I'm six, one - weight: 'bout 222    That's a pretty big rock stuck there huh...

On we went, and came to our next stop - where we refilled water and had lunch

There were baby salamanders swimming (crawling) around in the bottom of the spring where we got our water from.  No photos, but it was pretty neat...  after eating and water, we moved on again.

A big 'ole mushroom/fungus along the trail

spyderco delica shown for scale

'nother nice splash of color along the way

don't know what they are though...

Saw this 'ole girl right along the side of the trail, chomping away on stuff, and being tormented badly by the flies

She wasn't to worried about us, but those files were really giving her a bad time of it

And here is one of my favorites

It is a Down Rattlesnake Orchid, or Goodyera pubescens

I think the leaves look super cool!

Hit another drying up creek, stopped and refilled water bottles

And we moved on, 
As we were walking along a nice ridge, we caught our first glimpse of the might James River down below.
Ahhh... we're getting closer to our stopping point for the night

Saw lots of this as we went along also

It's striped, or spotted wintergreen.  Chimaphila maculata

And we got to our stopping point for the night, a creek near Matt's Creek shelter

Ahhh...  my comfortable swinging home for the night.

sweaty wet shirt hanging to dry, socks off, and feet relaxing!  It was much warmer the rest of the nights, so the woobie was all that was needed & good to go!

Her hammock

notice the sleeping bag... 

We slept long and well the second night, and woke up feeling GREAT and ready for another day of hiking
She was up before I was (I am not known to be a super early riser when in my hammock, lol)  So, she snapped a photo of me while still resting

it is so comfortable...

course she woke me up and we ate, watered, and hiked on,

Saw this cool slug slimming a rock by the creek where we got water the night prior and in the morning

and a big feather sticking our from a tree with this guy on it

and another spider just sitting and waiting at the edge of it's funnel, on it's web

and we hiked on, coming to the banks of the James River - which we would walk across. 
Some of the cool cliffs along the trail & James

a shot of the James through the trees as we hiked along

and my first glimpse of something I'd wanted to see & walk across since I first became aware of it

I was as excited as a kid in a candy store, with a pocket full of change!

The foot bridge that crosses the James River, via the Appalachian Trail!

Dedicated to:

Saw a guy paddling his canoe down the river as I walked, giddy, across the bridge.

Hey Creek....  Was that you?  Were you out paddling the James last weekend buddy?
I gave him a friendly wave, and he waved back.  Man was I happy to be there!

GF crossing

Sign on the other side (we were going north)

kind of puts it in perspective doesn't it....

we crossed the river, and hwy 501, and were back in the woods, whereupon we came to another cool bridge,

it also had a dedication

and we hiked on...

some more mushrooms along the way,

A glimpse back down at the mighty James as we continued our climb up the next mountain

if you look close, I think you can see the foot bridge we crossed earlier

Some more cool flowers along the way

I think it is Addison?s Leatherflower, a threatened species native to the ridge and valley province here in VA.

Cool little green grasshopper bug, chillin on a wine berry raspberry leaf

such tiny little wings...  made me wonder if he was "fresh hatched"

pretty little yellow flower

and finially...  FINIALLY...  made it to the T-O-P

it was a long climb on a hot, humid day...  it was nice to be on top, in the breeze, and not climbing any more.  Of course, when in the mountains - an up means a down and vise versa....  so we relaxed in the breeze for a few, and then started down

We eventually got to where we'd planed to stop for the night - by Punchbowl shelter - BUT it was not a good water source, there were LOTS of big dead trees, and the bugs were ridiculous!   
Here's a photo of the punchbowl water

That is some hot, doo-doo brown water, and it even stank!  Needless to say, we were a little disappointed and moved on. 

Some cool coral fungus across the trail

spyderco for scale

We found water at a spring about a mile further on, and hydrated and re-filled there before moving on to find a spot to hang for the night

Saw this guy on the trail,

it's only the second one I've ever seen

Had to cross over the parkway (Blue Ridge), where there was a parking spot for some outlook.  Saw this

Now some may say that's not funny, but I confess that I laughed.  That's a Toyota Sienna I think..

and we moved on... laughing a little as we went...

more yummy berries

saw this cool dude hiking south on the trail, he wasn't exactly sprinting down the trail...

in between those two rocks on the trail...

we chatted a bit, he let me take his picture

we eventually came to a super nice spot along the trail with a nice breeze blowing through the pines.  Here we would call home for the night

i think this is called stealth camping.  It was a glorious night and perfect in every way.  There was just enough breeze to keep any bugs away, but not enough to ruffle the hammocks.
We were visited by a few deer, but didn't get any photos worth posting...

And here is the beautiful sunrise the next morning

I hated to leave that spot, but we needed to move on....  and we did

not sure what it is...

interesting old sign along the trail

one of only two we saw the entire time

cool suspension bridge we had to cross, over a river/stream

perfect little water stop, right on time too!

Almost to the stopping point,

went by this, thought it was cool and so took a photo

the last shelter we would pass on this trip.  We stopped long enough to take the photo and kept moving.  We only had a couple of miles left, so we pushed on and made it to the truck in short order.  There were a couple of thru hikers there looking for a ride into Buena Vista.  We had'em jump in the back and gave'm a ride into town.

Well, that's all for this four days of hiking trip report.  It was a fantastic time, and we regretted having to leave it all behind and head back down to the beach.

We hope you enjoyed the photos, and report, and thank you for taking the time to check it out


You were so close (within 40 miles) to me I wish I could have met ya for a visit. Glad you all had a smooth trip. We have been blessed with some pretty good weather lately. Appreciate the photos. Had to be a better trip with the misses along. :) Good stuff.


Looks like an awesome trip along there, glad the weather didn't throw you all off.   A friend of ours is working on the AT and started at the south end, but I can't remember how far he's made it now. 

Great pics and nice to see you were able to have a few wild edibles en route.

Are you working on doing the whole trail, or do you just hike in the nearby areas?

So was that you on the James, paddling your canoe, Creek?

I told ya I was coming your way, lol.  Last time I was on the trail and texted you - you replied four hours later & I saw it twenty four hours & twenty miles later, lol.  Bearing in mind the horrible cell reception that's up there in the mountains.
I'll let you know when I'm headed back that way again, we'll meet up if we can for sure!
Yes, we have been blessed with some nice weather lately for sure (minus the hurricane that skirted by) and of course it was better, having the missus along!

It was an awesome trip for sure!  Does your friend have a trail name?  Heck, I may have met him...  there was one fella who's trekking poles were made of cane, or bamboo.  I didn't get his name though.   
Yes, it is the time of year for a lot of wild edibles, and we took full advantage of that as we hiked.  Free, healthy, and tasty calories on the trail are always welcome!

At some point I think I'll be able to "put my name" on the whole thing.  For now though, I'm just doing what's closest - though that does continue to get farther and farther away...  At the very beginning the closest was a three hour drive away.  Now it five and a half hours away.  Soon I'll have to actually take time off to do it...  I do enjoy it a lot though, and I think I've only just scratched the surface.


i was almost late to work this morning, reading this AWESOME post took a while.

thanks for sharing


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