Kurt's Hikes: 95 Degrees at Home, 75 at Wind Rock
You drive out of Roanoke at about 11:20 and it reads 95 on the car thermometer, you assume you're in for one hot hike.
Less than an hour later, at the little parking spot at the War Spur Trail on Va. 613 a few miles beyond Mountain Lake it is, astoundingly, just 77, and Gail reaches into the back of the car to put a long-sleeve shirt into her backpack.
Not that this wonderful loop was a cool-weather walk. The high humidity and the exertion of the climb assured that.
And what a glorious collection of trail nuts we came across. Two women heading south and about to end a section hike that had begun in Waynesboro. A set of four other ladies headed north, also on a long section hike. And three or four young men, also carrying overnight gear and asking how far it was to the shelter.
They were effective to keep The Day Hiker focused, during the climb she chewed up as usual, on the fact that we are, after all, just day hikers – never sleeping on the ground, always drying out even if we get wet, always having a dry shirt after we've sweated through the one we started with, always being out of the woods and on our way home to go out to dinner by late afternoon. These facts not only reassure us, but also make us appreciate, on a day like this one, the people who are out there on the Great Trail for many days or weeks at a time, fighting the elements, building wonderful life memories and also giving day hikers a feeling of being a part of something big and very nifty.
At Wind Rock for lunch, as we watched a storm head toward us from the west, the temperature got as low as 75 on Gail's little thermometer, and might have gone even lower, as once the rain, lightning and thunder were clearly approaching, we removed ourselves from the high precipice.
We reached the small kiosk where the AT crosses 613 just about the time the rain got serious, and spent 15 or so minutes waiting it out along with the two hikers awaiting a ride at the end of their multi-day hike.
The way back to the car along the gravel road was much more tolerable than it could have been and usually is, as drizzle persisted for a time, and the day remained cool and cloudy for the full stretch.
War Spur Loop, War Spur Connector, Appalachian Trail, Va. 613 loop hike. 6.4 miles.
How to get there: West on U.S. 460 from Blacksburg to Va. 700 up to Mountain Lake, then left onto Va. 613 to the War Spur parking area.