Little Cove Mountain Trail and a short section of Appalachian Trail and back. 6.5 miles.
The Greatest Day Hiker Of Them All has only one hiking bugaboo, so to speak (well, aside from stinging nettle and days with temps in the 30s or below), which is bugs. Years ago at the intersection of the Little Cove Mountain Trail and the Appalachian Trail we blithely sat down on some very soft and inviting moss for lunch, and got up the next morning a billion chigger bites, which plagued Gail for weeks. We've carried our little blue picnic blankey thingie ever since, but the memory remains strong, especially when we're in the proximity of the chigger caper.
On this day it was lots and lots of tiny ticks that wanted to have their way with us, making their way up over our socks at approximately the same rate I was making it up the mountain: not too fast, but with just enough pace to have The Day Hiker's legs in sight. The fire that occurred on Little Cove two or three years ago took out lots of the trees, perhaps having the effect of making for a healthier understory habitat for ticks.
One other result of the fire is that there are now summer views to the west, and the breeze seems to come in a little stronger, a welcomed happenstance on this warm day. We went on southward on the AT for a half mile or so, searching in vain – as Gail said we've done before – for an outcropping, before we settled in for lunch at the intersection of the two trails, near the site of The Day of The Chiggers.
When we were most of the way back down the mountain, we came upon Doug from Roanoke, who we've met before on the trail. He's a good guy to come across, Doug is, as his own every-weekend hiking habit helps justify ours. He's only a year and a half into it at this point, and has already done all of the Virginia Appalachian Trail, an odyssey that took us about four years. So he's REALLY nuts.
The Puppy Report: Great time sloshing in Jennings Creek and its feeder streams; and yes, her own share of the little ticks, which got picked off Saturday evening under the flickering light of the pretty-stupid movie "Revolutionary Road," which had no ticks and a lot of nice costumes.
June 27, 2009