Apple Orchard Mountain
The top of Apple Orchard Mountain is still home to a giant ball from the FAA.
From Blue Ridge Parkway Sunset Fields Overlook: Unnamed forest road to Glenwood Horse Trail [pdf of trail information here] to another forest road to Appalachian Trail loop. 10.8
Not The Day Hiker's favorite walk, this.
Though it seemed at the planning stage – for a brand new hike for us – to be pretty nifty: Start from the parkway, walk a loop, get to go over the highest mountain on the Appalachian Trail to the north all the way to New Hampshire (and 200 miles to the south).
And all those things were indeed nifty. What bugged Gail, mildly, was that the first 7.7 miles are all on grassed-over forest roads – some as wide as a boulevard and the first half mile or so unmaintained to the point that you're walking with knee-high growth brushing against you.
Which delivered what really bugged her, though we did not realize it until the next day, at which point she delivered the insightful perspective she does about this time every year: "Stupid, Kurt, just stupid. Every year we pretend they won't be there."
What showed up the next day was scores of little red dots about the ankles, the very place we'd noted, along the trail, as "kind of itchy – you too?" And then proceeded along, not thinking at all of… CHIGGERS!
Still a small price to pay for a good long trek ("those forest roads are more like a walk than a hike," opined The Day Hiker when at last we reached the narrow, forested treadway of the AT), lunch and views at 4,225 feet, and an especially easy second "half" of a hike. Plus a pretty holiday day with the whole loop and the whole mountaintop entirely to ourselves.
September 7, 2009