The Rheinheimer/Markwood people clog up the AT
A whole lot of Rheinheimer/Markwood people clog up the whole daggone Appalachian Trail where it breaks out onto a rock to look down over Carvins Cove.
You get a sunny February day with a predicted high of nearly 60, plus a not-too-far destination with a pretty view, and every once in awhile, you can get some big numbers for a hike.
The big ol' crowd of 11 of us pretty much took over this short section of the AT, creating a little line of hikers-of-all-sizes up and down the trail and edging two other sets of hikers off our destination of "Hey" Rock, looking down on Carvins Cove and down into the Roanoke Valley.
The second-youngest hiker – Tyler, 4 – was on his first real hike where he would climb a whole mountain completely under his own power. His technique for breaking a 2.7-mile climb into manageable portions? Projecting the first eight or 10 little high points and knobs as our final destination, until the collective chorus of "no, we're just getting started," and "no, we can't even see where we're going yet," and "when we can see the water we'll be getting close" eventually copnveyed that this was going to be something different from walking around the house to the back yard. His climb, with encouragement from the nine-year-old veteran-hiker Matthew – on at least his third time on this section – became steady and determined.
The youngest hiker was 9-month-old Reese, who rode on her daddy's back with nothing but wide eyes and good patience in waiting for lunch, which she undertook with as much appreciation and gusto as everyone else. Maybe it's the semi-mountain air as much as the walking that works up the appetite. Tyler's characterization of his big ol' sandwich to The Day Hiker: "This is the best lunch ever, Gigi!"
And that lunch-on-the-rocks – with fruit, wraps, cheese, wine, cream sodies, several kinds of candy and more – was accompanied by the aforementioned good views of places where we live, of the water we drink, and places we've hiked before, including the profile of McAfee Knob off to the west.
The way down, as always, was way faster than the way up.
Appalachian Trail from U.S. 220 at Daleville up Tinker Mountain to the Carvins Cove "Hey" Rock viewpoint and back. 5.4 miles.
How to get there: Exit 150 north from I-81 and into the park and ride lot just south of the Exxon station on U.S. 220 north.