Friday Hikers: AT – AT from Carvers Gap to Hughes Gap, Trip Report

Collins Chew reporting

Event Date: April 20th

We had a great hike on the AT over Roan Mountain today.  The day started chilly and foggy but warmed and cleared.  Until we started down from the top, we saw no wildflowers, but they began to show up as we descended toward Ash Gap.  With each increment of descent, a different assemblage of flowers appeared.  We ended up with a really great day of flowers with great diversity.  There were carpets of various flowers at different places.  The trout lilies were very large as well as numerous.  We rolled the relocation with a wheel and mapped it with GPS.  It was 0.4 miles longer because of a long switchback added recently.  Hikers were: Olin Babb, Kathy and Jerry Case, June Donaldson, Howard Guinn, Carol Idol, Lowell Toof, Jane Whitson and Collins Chew.

Friday Hikers: Max Patch, Trip Report

Collins Chew reporting

Event Date, April 13th

We had a beautiful day with pleasant temperatures for our annual trillium hike over Max Patch.  The veterans all think we saw more trillium this year than ever before, with at least four varieties/colors.  There were a number of other flowers with a carpet of trout lily in one place.  Hikers were Gary Bailey, Lee Bockman, Kathy and Jerry Case, Andy Gilbert, Ryan Sheeley, Jane Whitson, Laura Ward, and Collins Chew.

Friday Hikers: Laurel River, Trip Report

Collins Chew reporting

Event Date: April 6th

We had a beautiful day with early clouds for our annual 7-mile wildflower hike on Laurel River, NC.  The night’s rain had dropped the flowers in the morning, but they recovered well during the day.  Lunch was at the abandoned site of Runion as usual. The river flow was heavy and we spent a fair amount of time watching kayakers and rafters going through the very impressive rapids.  Hikers were:  Kathy Case, Carol and Dave Dunham, Jerry Jones, Jan Mather, Susie Seiler, Shirley and Lowell Toof and Collins Chew.

Friday Hikers: Carvers Gap to Grassy Ridge, June 17

Collins Chew reporting

We had ideal weather for our 4.8-mile hike from Carvers Gap to Grassy Ridge and return and then another 0.5 mile (about) hike through the Rhododendron Gardens.  Along the AT, the rhododendrons were upstaged by a nearly continuous, beautiful display of flame azalea with many colors showing.  The rhododendrons were also very nice, particularly near the top of Grassy Ridge and in the Gardens.  There were many other wildflowers, including American Mountain Ash, Grays Lily, bluets, ragwort, and more.  Many others shared our enjoyment of the day.  There was the usual stop for peaches as well.  Hikers were:  Olin Babb, Lee Bockman, Anne Cosby, Carol and Dave Dunham, Judith Foster, Bob Harvey, Jerry Sluder, Judy and Bill Tindall, Lowell Toof, first timers Rikki Rhoton and Sharon Trumley, and Collins Chew.

Friday Hikers: AT – Braemar to Shook Branch, June 10

Collins Chew reporting

We hiked from Braemar over Pond Mountain on the AT to Shook Branch to measure a new relocation near the top of Pond Mountain.  The relocation measured 1851 feet long and the entire section ended up 0.1 miles shorter than the guide book distance.  We walked about 7 miles including the mile on the blue-blaze trail from Braemar.  There were a fair number of wildflowers with Mountain Laurel the showiest.  I was also fascinated by the white and pink-flowered shrub at low elevations at both ends.  I guess it is Corymbed Spirea.  The flower spikes of Galax got the most comments.  Some flame azalea was still blooming.  Hikers were:  Bob Harvey, Lowell Toof, and Collins Chew.

Friday Hikers: AT – Whitetop Mountain, June 3

Collins Chew reporting

We had a beautiful day for our 7-mile hike on the AT over Whitetop.  I have never seen the field so green.  There were many wildflowers including flame azalea.  Hikers were: Jack Aaron, Olin Babb, Lee Bockman, Kathy and Jerry Case, Andrew Cleland, Anne Cosby, Carol and Dave Dunham, first timer Irma Graf, who was scouting for the ATC meeting next month, Bob Harvey, John and Helen Hoover, Carol Idol, Heather Jacob, Larry Miller, Susie Seiler, Jerry Sluder, Lowell Toof, and Collins Chew.

Friday Hikers: AT: Yellow Mt. Gap to Little Hump, May 20

Collins Chew reporting

We had a beautiful hike in pleasant, cool weather to Yellow Mountain Gap and on the AT to Little Hump and back to Big Yellow Mountain where we crossed over to the magnificent bald for lunch, then return.  Views were hazy but nice.  Wildflowers were out in profusion; white fringed phacelia and wood betony (lousewort) perhaps the most spectacular with occasional carpets of bluets. Hikers were Jack Aaron, Lee Bockman, Olin Babb, Kathy and Jerry Case, Anne Cosby, Carol and Dave Dunham, Bob Harvey, Jan and Chuck Mather, Susie Seiler, and Collins Chew.

Friday Hikers: Lake Keokee to a point near High Butte, May 13

Bob Harvey reporting

The hike of May 13 was from Lake Keokee to a point near High Butte on the crest of Stone Mountain and return, a total of 9.0 miles.

Lake Keokee possibly is a water source for one of the towns of Southwest Virginia, and it’s not far from Appalachia.  We began the hike by going part way around the lake, walking over the big earth-fill dam, then going to the top of Stone Mountain on an easy ascent, arriving at Olinger Gap.  From the huge pile of empty beer cans we found at the gap, we could see that there must have been a four-wheelers’ party in the recent past.

Turning to the northeast at Olinger Gap we hiked along the crest of Stone Mountain.  For several short sections the trail was bare rock.  Much of this crestline trail, except for a few blowdowns, was no problem.  There was, however, the matter of two gaps that had steep descents and even worse ascents.  When we finally clawed our way to the high point, we took a welcome break to eat lunch, then headed back.

The hike back took a little less time, possibly because we were spurred along by hearing thunder coming from Kentucky, just two miles to the north.  According to fellow hiker Don Baker, the bad weather often comes from there, and so it did this time.  The rain began, but it wasn’t too bothersome until well after we had gotten back to the cars.

The hikers were Jack Aaron, Olin Babb, Don Baker, Collins Chew, Andrew Cleland, Anne Cosby, Bob Harvey, Carol Idol, Chuck Mather, Larry Miller and Jerry Sluder.