Cows Near Fullhart Knob
The first winter-feeling hike day of the season needed a destination with a fire pit just to get The Day Hiker out the door.
Not to mention the attraction for late-addition hiker Matthew, who at nine is of course a fan of a campfire not so much for warmth as for its being a campfire.
Turns out the warmth was needed for all, as even with the good long climb of the mountain, we all had cold hands at least as we reached the shelter. The Day Hiker as always had other cold body parts, and once the fire got going as well as it was going to, took a moment to point each one toward the fire, to the amusement of Matthew, who made sure neither socks nor pants backside caught fire.
The view from Fullhart is a good one once the leaves are gone – a nice 360 into Virginia.
The way back down was significantly faster than the way up, with Matthew using pine cones and bark pieces as video-game-style weapons chucked ahead toward The Day Hiker. His incentive to keep up was strong, and he made enough direct hits to not only see her crumble to the ground with excellent vid-screen style and drama, but also to have him announce at the car that he had gotten to Level Five.
OK, there was one place where the other two hikers had to look out for me: Just over the first big bald hill you come into . . . cow territory! And my fear of cows is exceeded perhaps only by my fear of rodents. Gail and Matthew did a right nice job both ways telling Bessie and her friends to get out of the way because there was a chicken coming through.
Appalachian Trail from U.S. 11 in Troutville to Fullhart Knob Shelter and back. 7.8 miles
How to get there: U.S. 11 north out of Roanoke to small parking lot on right just shy of the trail, as you enter Troutville.