Appalachian Trail from U.S. 11 in Troutville to Fullhardt Knob Shelter and back. 7 miles
The Greatest Day Hiker Of Them All's greatest annual transition is from the seemingly unending warmth of summer to that first fall day when… "it's cooold!"
October 3 was that day this year as we walked under cloudy, breezy skies – relatively comfortable as we made the mostly upward first half of this walk: over the big mini-Max Patch bald, up the first set of switchbacks, through the saddle and on to the second set and up to the shelter. Once we stopped, even after shirts were changed, layers added and gloves donned, there was simply no warming Gail, as every year it takes one jolting week for us to replenish the dry bag with more layers, real gloves and ear cover. Then, of course, we inevitably carry those things for nothing for a few Indian-summery weeks before they're needed again.
This is a popular stretch for the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club, and on the way up we crossed a group of five who, we learned later by looking at the bulletin, were doing 19.5 miles from Bearwallow Gap… serious walking.
The way down from Fullhardt is mostly just that… the way down. And thus it took a mile or so for The Day Hiker to warm up enough to take off a layer. I think she wore the little cotton gloves all the way to the car.
October 3, 2010 Hike
How to get there: U.S. 11 north from the 150 Exit of I-81 for about a mile to parking lot on right.