Gail and Cookie
A girl and her dog pay no attention to the killer view from Tinker Cliffs.
Andy Lane Trail to Appalachian Trail to Tinker Cliffs and back. 7.4 miles.
It's a measure of the abilities of The Greatest Day Hiker Of Them All that a little stretch of trail that was long her most-disdained section on this day officially became "pretty daggone easy."
The place in question is the two-part, steep-as-can-be piece of the Andy Lane Trail soon before the switchbacks that take you to Scorched Earth Gap and the intersection with the Appalachian Trail.
In fact, such was her characterization of the whole of the climb to one of the best spots for lunch anywhere, especially on this day of a light breeze and good sun. It's axiomatic that the more often you do a piece of trail, the better you know it and the shorter it seems. I've long dreaded that there may be another chapter to the phenomenon, and that at some point, when maybe you know it too well, it starts to lengthen out again. We must have done this walk a dozen times or more over the past six years, and so far it does continue to shrink before our very feet. It also presents itself, more distinctly with each undertaking, in three sharply defined sections: the flat through fields and along and across Catawba Creek; the sharp climb defined by those two chunks noted above; and the series of six or eight switchbacks that deliver you to the AT.
It's a great walk, in every season.
To get there, drive U.S. 220 north from I-81 Exit 150 at Cloverdale; left onto Va. 779 at Daleville, for about 9 miles to parking lot on the left. (Or onto 779 off of 311 west of Salem and then about 8.5 miles to parking lot.)
March 27, 2010