A leftover from a real, snowy winter?
Appalachian Trail from Va. 624 north onto the crest of Catawba Mountain and back. 5.4 miles.
This is a varied little stretch of the AT, beginning amid a few houses along 624, climbing for a few hundred feet and then descending again through cow pastures to parallel a branch of Catawba Creek. Then come more open fields, a double-style-climb crossing of Va. 785, and more fields ascending back into the forest for the climb to the crest of Catawba Mountain, where we ate with views of North Mountain to the west and Fort Lewis mountain to the east.
We were surprised to have two young couples pass us – headed south – as we ate. And back down off the mountain, at 785, was one of them.
"Are we getting close to McAfee Knob?" the young man asked. "We thought we'd be there by now."
Well, we told them, you're getting farther and farther away; they had parked back at 311 and, as seems to happen now and again to first-timers, walked in the wrong direction. They declined our offer to walk with us and get a ride back to 311. We left them there at 785, pondering.
Our walk back to the car from that point was only two miles or so. In the car and passing the 311 parking lot, we noticed them walking toward their car. How could they have beaten us back, with more than twice the distance to cover? Well, you hitchhike with a pretty girl, you'll get a ride fairly quickly.
How to get there: Va. 311 west out of Salem to Va. 624 for only about a half mile to where the AT crosses the road.
March 21, 2010