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Kurt's Hikes: May 2, 2012
Gail and Kurt at the third overlook of the Jomeokee Trail with Pinnacle Mountain behind.
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Kurt's Hikes: May 20, 2012
Cicada and cicada exoskeletons around an AT blaze near Troutville.
May 4, 2012: Pilot Mountain loop. About 7.5 miles.
With a trip to Winston-Salem concluded (for the release of my new story collection "Finding Grace" at the offices of Press 53), we paused a little ways up the road for a first-ever climb of Pilot Mountain, in North Carolina's Pilot Mountain Park. We walked a loop including the Grassy Ridge, Grindstone, Ledge Spring, Jomeokee and Mountain trails, a fairly gentle walk that provides good views of the summit and the surrounding countryside, as well as a circle around the Pilot summit.
This is a pleasant, easy hike, especially given its distance.
How to get there: Follow the signs from U.S. 52 north of Winston-Salem.
May 12: Appalachian Trail from Va. 311 to McAfee Knob and back. 7.8 miles.
This Roanoke-area and personal favorite was walked amid lots of company on this day, from thru-hikers to clusters of Tech students and others. The formation was crowded enough that we moved around a time or two before we found a spot that was quiet and away enough for a quiet lunch.
How to get there: Va. 311 west from Va. 419 in Salem
May 20: Appalachian Trail from U.S. 220 at Daleville north to "Halfhart" Knob and back. About 6 miles.
Since we completed all of the Virginia miles of the AT back in 2008, we have repeated the sections near Roanoke many times each.
Except this one.
Who wants to get out of the car, cross busy U.S. 220, walk through a brief wooded area and then some fields, then under I-81 via a paved road, then cross U.S. 11, and then some more fields before finally getting to the woods?
Well, not us, and especially not The Greatest Day Hiker Of Them All on this particular day when we got out of the car to the high huge noise of the 17-year cicadas, several of which soon flew into The Day Hiker, causing both shrieks and promises that she was not going to do this if it kept up.
It kept up quite a bit, with a few more brief in-the-hair shriekettes, but no more real threats to turn around. At least the cicadas provided some interest on an otherwise fairly uninteresting section, as we saw the holes where they'd come up out of the trail, many live buzzers and nearly as many abandoned exoskeletons.
We chose this section in anticipation of being a part of Troutville Trail days on June 1-2, when we were to be a part of student education on Friday; seemed like a nifty idea to walk the section through Troutville in case anybody asked. (Which, on that Friday, no one did.)
We stopped to eat at the little flat spot on the first rise of Fullhart Knob--Halfhart Knob, you could call it.
How to get there: Exit 150 N of I-81 to parking area near the Exxon station.
May 28: Appalachian Trail south from Va. 42 to Kelly Knob and back. 6.6 miles.
The Day Hiker, slightly under the weather this day, says this was "the worst hike we've ever done."
It is, of course, no such thing. I mean what about 19.6 miles into Harpers Ferry in the rain, dude, just to name one.
Problem was, we'd talked about a short hike, and she kind of had this in her mind and very early on started anticipating Kelly Knob being around the corner.
And that .9 the map and guidebook assert as the distance between Laurel Creek Shelter and Kelly Knob? I'm not so sure either, as it took us 40 minutes to cover that distance going up, and 45 coming down.
And simply, we just don't walk that slowly . . . 30-minute miles do occasionally happen, but not often. Nine-tenths is 25 minutes tops.
The trees have grown up some since the last time we were there, blocking some of the view at the knob. And the big old spooky house along this stretch is now a pile of rubble.