Kurt's Hike: March 30, 2013Skunk cabbage – as sure a sign of spring as the first pitch of the season.
At last it's the time of year when I have a better chance to keep up with the fast strides of The Greatest Day Hiker Of Them All. Especially during winter, she gets away from me fast, rushing through the cold as she does, to get to either lunch or the car.
But come March, her eye is drawn back to the ground. And maybe especially along the Andy Lane Trail, with its marshy areas, stream-side distances and other moist wildflower havens. She takes over the camera come this time of year, and pauses here and there to get down near the ground and clear away a few crinkly, last-fall leaves, as if to assure the buds she's awaited will emerge fully into the new season. I get to go on by, and lead along the trail for a brief distance.
This was a good day not just for early wildflowers, but also pent-up hikers, as the parking lot along Va. 779 was just about full when we arrived, and we crossed and passed many sets of hikers, with many commenting on what was by far the muddiest trail we have walked on in all these years of the hiking oddity.
Up top, as nearly always it seems, the sky was blue, the breeze pleasant and the views terrific, even if there were lots of people scurrying around, with a few also doing things like whoopin' and hollerin' and throwing rocks of the edge of Tinker Cliffs. I'm told that after lunch I napped through a bunch of the noise and rucus.
The way down had fewer snowy spots but just as much mud. There was some talk about the dog getting her annual bath whether she needed or not, but I think the owner forgot; and Cookie is not prone to remind of such.
Andy Lane Trail to Appalachian Trail to Tinker Cliffs and back. 7.2 miles
How to get there: Va. 311 west of Salem to a right onto Va. 779 for about 7 miles to the parking area on the right.