David, Gail and Adam on McAfee Knob, May 16, 2010.
Appalachian Trail from Va. 311 to McAfee Knob and back down, using the forest road from about 2 miles out. About 7 miles.
With sons David and Adam deciding to walk and run-some-too on a nine-plus-mile outing up the Andy Lane Trail to Scorched Earth Gap and then south on the Appalachian Trail along the Tinker Mountain ridge line to McAfee Knob, The Day Hiker and I were cajoled to: lead them in their truck to the parking lot at 311; leave the truck there and drive them to the base of the Andy Lane Trail; drive on along Va. 779 into Daleville to hit the Kroger; stuff our packs with food and drink for four instead of two; drive the 16 miles of 779 back to 311 and then up the mountain to the parking lot; start our own climb on the AT up the McAfee.
Which, with The Day Hiker hitting her usual acceleration point about two miles up, all turned out to produce pretty amazing timing, and the two 20-something semi-runners arrived within five minutes of when the semi-geezer hikers (OK me, not her) sat down on the rocks and spread out the lunch goodies. We'd picked a spot over toward the east – looking toward Roanoke – but a bunch of likely first-timers seemed to think this was THE spot on McAfee, and gathered around us as if we had the only viewpoint along the 1/4 mile of rocky precipice.
Going down, we succumbed, for the second time in a matter of weeks after never once doing so for at least six years, to taking the forest road down from where the trail crosses it just above Catawba Mountain Shelter. It's a pleasant, easy walk, and especially enjoyable in the context of being able to walk four abreast. Predicted drizzle started when we were still about a mile up and built slowly toward light rain by the time we reached 311, the two vehicles and a good walk.
Getting there: Va. 311 west from Va. 419 in Salem, to the parking lot at the top of Catawba Mountain.
Hike, May 16, 2010