A Rare Two-Hike Weekend
Left: Green and full, Carvins Cove, April, 2011. Right: The Greatest Day Hiker Of Them All watches the fog blow from the top of Flat Top Mountain.
With a 5K race in the morning, a wine-and-music festival in the afternoon and ambitious bike-to-dinner-in-Vinton plans for the evening, we snuck in this ol' favorite up to "Hey" Rock overlooking Carvins Cove; and went a little farther than usual given the trail traffic and the fact that "Hey" itself is part of the trail.
And after a good-paced climb up and the walking of the ridge, we found a semi-private outcropping that provides just as good a view of the reservoir as Hey or Hay Rock, which was still .8 or so away from where we stopped to eat. The new green of the trees, the clear day and the full pond all made for great lunch-time views.
A great day for exercise overall: a not-too-embarrassing time for the first 5K race in the unbelievable age group called 65-69; a fine time with a son and family to watch the Carolina Chocolate Drops; this great lunch up on Tinker Mountain, and a terrific dinner at Red Jasmine with a 10-plus-mile bike ride on either side.
U.S. 220 at Daleville south on the Appalachian Trail for three miles and back. 6 miles
How to get there: Exit 150 from I-81 to parking area just south of the Exxon station.
And then . . . the next day (May 1) around midday as I'm about to start lunch, The Greatest Day Hiker Of Them All says so, Kurt, is it a movie or a hike?
And so, for the first time in a long time, we got to do two in one weekend, heading out into a misty, semi-threatening day that included some serious fog on the Blue Ridge Parkway as we drove to the trailhead at milepost 83.5.
Starting up, the woods were eerily full of fog and beautifully full of wildflowers, with Gail oohing, aahing and opining they need to provide a little flyer for what's in bloom by month.
This walk, for its relatively short length (the sign says 2.6 but the guidebooks say 2.8 to the top), is pretty strenuous, given the rocky stretches and the overall climb of 1,492 feet. It's also got a classic false summit, with the signpost talking about another half mile when it must be at least .7.
But the summit and its 4,001 feet sign always make the climb worthwhile. On this day, the clouds and fog were rushing in and through from the east, and so it was warmer – for the first time we've ever been up there – on the west side than on the east. And from the high rocks on the west, we could watch the weather whip through just below us to both the north and south, with big vistas opening up and then disappearing behind fog just as fast.
Flat Top Trail up and down. 5.6 miles.
How to get there: Parking lot at milepost 83.5 of the Blue Ridge Parkway.