Part of the crowd on McAfee Knob on a pretty Sunday.
I suppose if you head out to perhaps the most popular trail section around Roanoke on a perfect fall day, you ought to expect to have to get lucky to find a parking place where Va. 311 crests Catawba Mountain, and you ought to expect to see a lot of people from those cars out on the trail and on the precipice.
But when it turns out you see as many people you're acquainted with as not, then it starts to seem like an extra-unusual day.
And a glorious one to be sure – to see neighbors, old friends, sons' friends, almost-recognizers and more – heading up and down the Great Trail on a great day.
And upon the precipice, the views were sharp and crisp – out over Catawba Valley, south to Tinker Cliffs, east to the Peaks of Otter, and westward over the ridges into West Virginia.
Even headed back down for a 6:30 arrival in the parking lot, there were still sets of people on the way up.
Appalachian Trail from Va. 311 to McAfee Knob and back. 7.4 miles
How to get there: Va. 311 west from Salem to its high point over Catawba Mountain.