Kurt's Hike: July 21, 2012
Looking out over the Catawba Valley from Tinker Cliffs, behind a man whose shirt got wet from sweat, see, not rain.
How to have the popular-destination overlook all to yourselves on a summer weekend day?
1. Pick a pretty hot day.
2. And a cloudy one with a better-than-50-percent chance of showers.
3. Take the umbrellas to try to jinx away the showers.
4. About a third of the way up, pass a pair of couples trying the hike for the first time and showing no signs at all that they're going to make it more than half way.
5. Go ahead and be pretty sure they turned back when the first drops come, when you're about two-thirds of the way up the Andy Lane Trail.
6. Watch The Day Hiker get out her umbrella and stay dry while you keep listening to the rain on the leaves, stay dry when you're under them and think it will stop any second now.
7. At Scorched Earth Gap, where the Andy Lane tees into the AT, pause with The Day Hiker in the drizzle for this discussion:
"Well, it's five or six tenths to the shelter and five or six tenths to the cliffs . . . whaddaya think?
"I hate walking back up from the shelter."
"If we go down there, the sun will come out, and if we go up to the cliffs, it'll drill."
"And, there could be somebody already in the shelter."
8. Follow The Greatest Day Hiker Of Them All as she turns from the chat and heads on up the Great Trail toward Tinker Cliffs.
9. Upon arrival at the cliffs, with nothing falling, have another debate, this one about whether to pitch the little rain fly as insurance. The Day Hiker votes negatory and you're just fine not getting out all that twine and trying to find four nicely spaced trees to get it all tangled up in.
10. Enjoy a nice lunch under nothing more than the sky, looking out over the valley and on into West Virginia, where you see patches of showers and patches of sunlight glide around and trade places.
11. Watch one of those showers come over North Mountain and toward you; bust out the umbrellas five good minutes of use.
12. Pack up, walk back down with no more rain, and cross not a single other set of fools walking up on a threatening day.
Andy Lane Trail to Appalachian Trail to Tinker Cliffs and back. 7.2 miles.
How to get there: Va. 311 west of Salem to right on Va. 779 for about 7.5 miles to the parking lot.