Rain ain't getting to us under this highly sophisticated set-up.
Well, we've tried two different parking areas, and two different attempts from the prescribed one and have not yet found the alleged 4.2-mile loop that takes you to the top of Fort Lewis Mountain from Bradshaw Road in Roanoke County. If either reader of this blog has a clue, we'd welcome it. We did walk in maybe three-quarters of a mile, and once again, the forest-road-looking trail just sort of petered out to nothing, and so we turned back.
One nearby choice for something else was just up 311, headed in the opposite direction from everyone else in the parking lot where the Appalachian Trail crosses 311. And the trail southbound was empty aside from two thru hikers from Kentucky, who were headed north and worried about rain and "those bad up-and-downs like Georgia." And as we parted company after a brief chat, we heard the true hiking call of the Kentucky thru-hiker: "Y'all don't happen to have a Pepsi, do you?"
Ah, but none of that was the highlight of this hike on a threatening day when, according to weatherdotcom just before we left home, the time of the greatest threat of rain was 3-4 pm. By about 2:45, it began to sprinkle a little, and by 3, when we decided we'd stop for lunch, you could just about call it raining. Which led to our breaking out . . . for the first time ever . . . after having it tucked away in the pack for months and months . . . and after being so very lucky with the rain (or at least walking to a shelter when there was a real threat) . . . the little tarp we got for just said purpose!
Yes, you do content yourself with very small pleasures in the woods – a pretty-specimen wildflower, towhees scratching at the ground, a familiar turn in the trail – and so the unpacking and tying up of the tarp was just a major whoopteedo for us. Especially since, just about the time we got it all strung around some trees and figured out it needed a center pole to prevent pooling, it started to drill.
And ooh, weren't we happy under there eating lunch all dry and cozy, tho' of course The Day Hiker got just a little chilly.
Anyway: a fine lunch, a 10-minute nap and then the rain, as predicted, slowed and then pretty much quit. We came out from under, disassembled our little nest cover, packed up and walked back along the ridge to 311 with the trail to ourselves save the mist and fog.
Ft. Lewis Mountain, Failed Attempt II; AT from Va. 311 two miles southward and back. About 5 miles total.
How to get there: Va. 311 west from Salem to the parking atop Catawba Mountain.