Kurt's Hikes: May/June 2014
Gail on Cold Mountain June 1, 2014.
Where do the weeks go? Well, the weeks that go fastest by my experience are those where you don't carry out your daily self-commitments (exercise, writing, etc), AND those where you don't carry out that other self-pledge: to write up the weekend hikes before they get moldy and semi-blurry with time . . . rats, failed again.
May 11. Back to "Hey" Rock. 5.6 miles.
We did this easy walk for the second weekend in a row to allow me to go back up there and take photos of the spray-painted rocks for the From the Editor column in the July/August Blue Ridge Country magazine. And there have already been a half dozen suggestions on new phrases/admonitions to help cut down on the instances. Read all about 'em in the Sept/Oct issue. And take this walk any time you want an easy, satisfying trek with your honey.
How to get there. Exit 150 from I-81 at Daleville, Va.
May 17. Grassy Hill Nature Preserve trails loop. 6.6 miles.
This easy walk was part of our big day and night just down the road in Rocky Mount, Va. The good walk and lunch (well, we lingered a little long on the ground and came out with a few ticks), were a prelude to dinner and then our first visit to the Harvester Center--the new performance venue downtown. The nearly full house was pleased with Chris Knight and his band. We went to hear "Down the River." They played it and it was the highlight of the evening.
How to get there (to Grassy Hill, not the Harvester, which you can't miss in downtown Rocky Mount): On U.S. 220 south from Roanoke, take 220 Business through the first stoplight and turn right ontoTechnology Drive. Trailhead kiosk is on the right.
May 26. War Spur and Appalachian Trails to White Rocks Trail and back. About 8 miles.
It had been awhile since The Greatest Day Hiker and I made our way very far from Roanoke. This nifty hike, in the Mountain Lake Wilderness some 60 miles away, is always worth the drive, though The Day Hiker does lament that we are never exactly sure if we've found the real White Rocks, not to mention that that trail, only faintly blazed, is pretty uncertain as it makes its way along the ridgeline. You certainly can't get lost, as the ridge if pretty narrow, but Gail is inordinately fond of a distinct, blazed, open, tended trail, which this is not.
How to get there: Pass Mountain Lake resort on Va. 700 to Va. 613 to parking lot on right.
June 1. Appalachian and Od Hotel trails loop. 5.7 miles.
This is another old favorite that entails a 50-plus-mile drive and is well worth it. We could not remember for sure, but this was likely the first time we've done this hike the way The Day Hiker would prefer: Eat lunch after 42 steps. Well, not exactly, but if you start the loop on the AT and go up to the mile-long bald of Cold Mountain, and even if you walk toward the south end of the bald, you are still only about a third of the way through the hike, which violates terribly my predilection to have at least half the hike done before lunch. But this walk is pleasant enough to overcome that pretty well, especially given that there are no significant climbs after the one to the bald.
How to get there: Exit 188 East from I-81 onto U.S. 60 to Va. 634 to Va. 755, which becomes FR 48, to parking at Hog Camp Gap.
June 5. Rivanna Trail section and UVa campus loop. About 5 miles.
Another on-the-way-to-live-music trek, as we paused on our way to Ashland Coffee & Tea to walk for the first time on Charlottesville's Rivanna loop trail, which is a 20-mile "urban wilderness" that circles Charlottesville and feature numerous and totally unmarked spur trails to and from points in the UVa campus. Chuck in the distinctly crummy map found on the supporting foundation's website, and once you get off the main loop, you are very much on your own in terms of finding your way back on at a point different from the one where you left. It was The Day Hiker's instincts and vigilance (read: lucky as crap) that got us back to the trail after our foray through the campus to The Corners for lunch. The Rivanna Trail itself--or at least the section we walked--is delightfully wooded, even as sounds of civilization and big roads creep into the woods and your walk. The music: The offerings of Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis, playing with their band in support of the new CD, "Our Year." They put on a fine Americana show, highlighted by good songs of their own and from others, and Robison's joke about the tour bus being stopped by the cops.
"You all have contraband in there?" queries the officer.
Robison replies, in full Southern drawl: "Well, officer, how did you know? Yes, we are a contraband, and right proud of it."
How to get there (the Rivanna Trail, not Ashland Coffee and Tea, which you can't miss in downtown Ashland): All kinds of access points around C-ville; pick one.