This was my first season as an East Coast backpacker:
Duncan Knob, February 21, 1998
I know that Tino and I went to Wolf Gap/Big Schloss and that we went to the Massanutten Mountain area. I went back to Massanutten by myself and did an 8 mile hike. We probably even went to Laurel Fork. As I recall, we tried to find the trail head for the Middle Mountain Trail and failed to do so. We decided to find somewhere else to camp, and it started pouring. I think we camped at the trailhead for the Bearwallow Trail. We saw a big damn bear being released by the USFS into the woods which we were about to enter.
On one wicked hot day in late summer, I hiked on the AT for the first time.
In the fall, I hiked some AT miles with Felix and a couple of other people.
In March, I visited Big Schloss. Later, I returned and climed up Little Sluice Mountain for the meteor shower. There's a meadow up there, and I had it to myself, which, considering it was a weeknight, is I guess not a surprise. I was trying to adjust to being in the woods alone, but as it turned out, the AT was completely different than doing USFS hikes on your own.
I decided to take some time off in May to clean up some AT miles, so I went up to PA since I missed a bit there. That sucked, so I came back to Virginia and went to Ramsey's Draft to actually climb up and see the hemlocks before they were all completely destroyed.
I didn't hike at all the rest of 2000. I did walk a lot in Reston, but that was more of an exercise thing.
I've continued hiking parts of the AT, and those hikes can be viewed via the AT index page. I'm getting farther afield from AT day hikes as I have done all the easy to reach mileage in the area. I'd love to take 5 day trip this fall, but due to my new job, that won't be happenning. Yes, I'm pissed off about that.
On one Eastern ridge trip, I hiked up Shawl Gap Trail from the Shenandoah Valley side, used the Big Blue Trail to traverse the ridge and descended via the Sherman Gap Trail. It was around 7 miles and took about 3 hours. There was almost no flat ridge line on this hike -- it was all up or down. The weather was cool and splendid, and I didn't see a single other human being. I love when that happens.
On the other, I did the Kennedy Peak hike.
For the Western ridge hike, I took the Signal Knob Trail up from the Fort Valley, used the Meneka Peak Trail to cross the ridge and descended via the Big Blue Trail. The Signal Knob hike is really pretty, as is the Meneka Peak Trail. That part of the Big Blue, while not without it's charm, was not particularly interesting. Standing in stark contrast to the previous week, in 4 hours, I never went more than 30 minutes without seeing people, usually in groups of 5 or more, so you could hear them coming and going. The flying bugs kept heading for my eyes and ears, and I had not seen any bugs to speak of the previous week. It was a *very* warm day for October, breaking a record at 81'. All that aside, it's a very pretty fall hike.