Thursday, October 31, 2013

Two Days on the Appalchain Trail

Returned last night from two days out on the AT down in Shenandoah National Park.  I went with Judy and our friends the Barrs.  As part of my Aconcagua build I carried most of the group's load--55/60 pounds to start each day (less as the day went on as we consumed the water--I started carrying 9 liters).  We had fantastic weather--eapecially the first day.  The foilage was marginally past peak--high on the ridges a lot of the leafs had fallen but down the slopes the colors were very impressive!  This led to some truly memorable vistas.

The first day we went Southward from Thornton's Gap all the way to Skyland.  This is a trek of about 9.5 miles and I'd guess somewhere around 4-5 thousand feet of vertical.  There were two major climbs--the first right out of the gate up to Mary's Rock--about 1500 feet over 1.9 miles and the second near the end as we ascended Stony Man Mountain--the last climb was about 1,000 feet or so over a little more than a mile.  we ended up summiting three mountains: Stony Man, Mary's Rock and The Pinnacles.  Stony Man's elevation is 4,011 feet, Mary's Rock is 3514 and The Pinnacles is 3730.  with our breaks it took us 7:30.

The second day was longer at around 12 miles but had a 1000 feet less vertical so it was marginally easier.  However, our legs were pre-loaded fatigue wise so my companions felt the second day was physically more demanding.  This was a different type of trek.  The first day was mostly on the exposed western ridgeline and quite open with expansive views.  The second day was deep into the woods--se saw lots of evidence of bears and at the end of the day saw a big bear about 100 feet off busily eating something.  We climbed three mountains: Pass Mountain (3,052 feet), Neighbor Mountain (2,612) and Hogback Mountain (3,474).  We ended on Hogback after a strenuous 2.4-mile climb of over 1000 feet.

A fantastic trip with great training value for me.  I'm returning for three more days next Monday through Wednesday.  here is a short slideshow from our hike--be sure to toggle to HD for the best show!

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