This man is: A. Contemplating the walking distances on the sign. B. Reflecting the mood of the photographer. C. Just old, cranky and squinty-eyed.
This was supposed to be the big test for the recovering dog – her first sort of real-length hike after a 4-miler and a 5-miler for her first two times out after a nearly two-year layoff with knee and hip problems.
Turns out it was more of a test for The Day Hiker, who has had a tendency over recent weeks to grump her way through our walks, as if the eight-and-a-half years of this weekend hikes might be wearing her down a little. Despite, you know, the magic of the woods, the great exercise, the being outside, the couple-together, the wildflowers, walking on the Great Trail, etc etc.
She started in not too far in . . .
"Is this the section that just goes on and on and on and never ever gets to the ridge?"
"I can't remember," I said, telling the truth.
"And there's nothing up there once you do get there?"
"Well, there are some rocks where you can look out to the east."
Neither of us remembered until we were close upon it that the crest of Sinking Creek is where the sign for the Eastern Continental Divide is! Complete with distances to the Atlantic and the Mississippi!
Yeah, that realization on where we were ending up really fired up The Day Hiker: "I told you there was nothing up here."
"Well, there are rocks up that way," I said, pointing up the trail.
"That's what you said last time."
We had a pleasant lunch nonetheless, there in the shadow of the Eastern Continental Divide sign, interrupted only occasionally by The Day Hiker lamenting there was no helicopter to come take her back down the mountain, especially after she looked at the map and learned that our 3.7-mile climb included about 2,000 feet of elevation gain.
The dog, on the other hand, had a pretty good day.
Appalachian Trail from Va. 621 south to crest of Sinking Creek Mountain (Eastern Continental Divide) and back. 7.4 miles
How to get there: Va. 311 east from Salem to left onto Va. 621 to small parking area where the AT crosses it.